Why Driving Is the Best Way to Get Around Hawaii

Thinking about taking a trip to Hawaii? It sounds like the ultimate paradise and a great place to sightsee, but it is no secret that traveling can be exhausting for anyone. The exhaustion ranks up the less you plan on your adventure. To save you from that, the research has been done and compiled to tell you why driving is the best way to get around Hawaii.

Driving in Hawaii is a preferred method of transportation because it is relatively economical and allows a traveler to reach more places and take in more sights on their own schedule. While some Hawaiian roads can be rough, they are also well-signed and strict traffic laws are in place to keep motorists safe.

Some islands have more roads than others and with more roads comes more drivers. If you plan to drive in beautiful Hawaii, you probably don't want to spend too much time in traffic. Read on for some tips about getting around and why traveling by car is still the way to go on the Hawaiian Islands.

The Pros of Driving in Hawaii

As you begin your preparations for your adventure to the beautiful islands of Hawaii, it can be inspiring to know the positives of your trip. If you're going to be driving around Hawaii, here is why it's the best.

It's Economical to Rent a Car in Hawaii

When you are visiting Hawaii, if you are renting a car, you can expect to pay less than $40 a day. Similarly, if you were to take a regular taxi, you could be paying $40 for a one-way ride alone. 

TheBus is the public service in Hawaii and has buses running every 15-30 minutes all over the islands. These cost about $3.00 per adult per ride, which could add up depending on how many trips you are going to be taking; the same case with Ubers and Lyfts – the trips you take will add your total up quicker than expected.

The best part? If you want to travel across the ocean to another island, most rental companies have partnered with Hawaii's ferry to transport your car as you go. Talk about nifty!

You Can Get to More Places and See More 

When wanting a little more relaxing of a trip, consider going to the islands that have more scenic routes for you to enjoy. 

The islands of Maui have many roads for you to explore on your adventures! You can also take time to visit the archipelago's largest island, nicknamed the "Big Island," it is the island that is actually named the Island of Hawai'i. We'll talk more about some of these scenic routes later. 

While trolleys may seem like a cool way to go, having a guide to point things out along the way, they can also take away from the experience. The time you spend on a trolley can range from an hour to several, and as we mentioned above, the money you may need to spend to get to each location in a bus, cab, or Uber/Lyft will add up.

Road Safety in Hawaii Is Serious Business

Hawaii, like all states, added laws for the safety of both its residents and tourists whenever a situation arises requiring it. Driving is encouraged to be slow, respectful, and quiet, while punishments include fines of up to $500 for minor violations.

Some laws that you can find in Hawaii include:

  • Seatbelt Law. Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt at all times when in a motor vehicle.
  • Child Restraint Laws. All children must be in the appropriate seating for their age group.
  • Motorized Scooters/Bikes Helmet Law. Individuals who are the driving age but not legally an adult must wear helmets at all times when operating a motorcycle or motorized scooter.
  • Bicycle Helmet Law. If an individual is under the age of 16, they must be wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle.
  • No mobile electronic devices while driving. At all. None. Not even at red lights or stop signs. This goes for everyone who drives. If you're caught breaking this law, the fines start at $257 and increase in price depending on the offense's manner and details.

These laws are in place for Hawaii to protect its people, and they take them seriously to ensure they keep the roads safe. 

The Cons of Driving in Hawaii

While rental cars are reasonably priced, and driving can get you just about anywhere you want to go on the islands, traveling by car in Hawaii isn't without its challenges. 

Terrible Traffic

In Honolulu, traffic is bad. In fact, Honolulu traffic is so awful that in 2019, it was ranked in the nation for most traffic congestion in a city with a population between 500,000 and 1,000,000 in a study done by Texas A&M. Now we know why Hawaii has serious laws in place to keep distractions away while you drive in the islands' congested traffic. 

Lousy Roads

The roads, in general, are pretty terrible in Hawaii, with the state ranking at number 3 for states that had the worst road conditions, according to the study done by ConsumerAffairs. Not every location on the islands will have awful roads, but you will have to travel on some if you go to a popular tourist destination.

Gas Is Pricey in Hawaii 

Hawaii has some of the highest gas prices in the United States. According to AAA's report of the average gas prices per state, this archipelago ranks just under the state of California. It is common to find Hawaii nearly a full dollar higher in price than the majority of other states in this country.

Roads to Take for A Scenic Drive in Hawaii

If you are going to be going to Hawaii and driving yourself on the roads, you may also be looking for scenic routes for you and whoever may accompany you to take. There are different roads that you can travel along on every island to get a beautiful view, but here are some for you to consider.

Hana Highway

Referred to be one of Hawaii's best scenic routes, Hana Highway offers a chance of a lifetime. This highway is just less than 65 miles and takes you through the lovely lands that the island of Maui offers. 

Some may say that the road sounds scary, which is fair. You are driving into high locations at times, and there are bridges you will come across that only allow one lane of cars across at a time. 

However – 

The lush vegetation that you will be gifted with along the drive should keep you relaxed. Along with the sight of the plants that are native to the island of Maui, you will also see the ocean at times on your trip, and you will come across many streams and waterfalls as well. It is an incredible ride.

Honoapiilani Highway/Highway 30

Highway 30 takes you on a 35-mile-long adventure near the coastline of Maui's North Circle. 

This road will take you through some breathtaking locations and scenery as you ride through towns and cities located on the island, giving plenty of opportunities for some foot exploring at times as well.

In fact, one popular spot on Maui is Lahaina, a coastal city. This is a tourist destination that appeals to many, as many services offer whale watching experiences. For anyone who loves the natural elements of the world, seeing these majestic creatures up close is a life-changing experience.

Honolulu to the Windward Side

If you aren't entirely against driving near the busy capital of Honolulu, there are mesmerizing sites to be seen on Oahu's Windward Side. 

The route you take to get there holds just as many lovely views to keep you amazed on this short 15-mile ride.

The Windward Side is known for its fantastic beaches and the Koolau Mountain range that provides the backdrop for the cities on this side. The community in this area is very close, and you can feel that energy as you get near to the civilized areas. 

The Windward Side is also a great place for a history lesson as well, as if you make it to Kaneohe, you can see a Buddhist temple called "Byodo-in Temple" that was constructed in 1968. This temple was created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese migrants to Hawaii, replicating the Byōdō-in located in Kyoto, Japan.


If you are prepared to drive yourself on your travel to Hawaii, you will not regret it. Being inexpensive is really just the start of why to do it. The beautiful scenery is experienced best when you are in control of the vehicle being operated, the schedule, and the itinerary – allowing you to take in the sights and properly enjoy the paradise you've found yourself in.

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