Getting Around Without A Car
– Hanauma Bay
– Nearest Walmart / store for grocery 🙂
Other suggestions that 4 year olds might enjoy which are accessible by bus etc are welcome 🙂
Thanks in advance.
To be honest, if you have a kid, I would rent a car. Try to find a deal on Priceline for the days you’re staying and rent straight from the airport to make things easier. It’s not so bad, driving throughout Honolulu and the island.
I’m the biggest advocate of using mass transit while on vacation in places with great mass transit, and Honolulu has a GREAT Bus system…but I honestly can’t recall ever seeing a child younger than maybe 12 on ANY of the buses I was on while on Oahu. They get so crowded, especially during rush hours, that I really don’t think they’re good for children so young.
If you are determined to use the bus , then you can find which bus routes to take and which stops to get off for most major attractions on The Bus’s official website .
There are tours that will take you to Hanauma Bay. Pick up all the free coupon books , and you’ll see some good prices. You can also get there by “The Bus”, but be careful with the schedules.
The PCC has packages that include transportation from your hotel. I would look into that.
At 4 years old, I’m thinking the beach is your best bet.
I ride TheBus all the time and guarantee you there are plenty of children on them!!
Oahu Itinerary For A First Trip To Hawaii
Below is a mini Oahu travel guide and ideas for traveling to Hawaii and ideas on things to do in Oahu.
These activities on the list below can also be perfect for a first trip to Hawaii, as it will allow you to experience different things about Hawaii!
If you want a little more Oahu beach time, it will be pretty easy to adapt this itinerary by taking out an activity or 2 so you can head to the beach early afternoon to hang out. On each of the days, there are different beaches you can choose from in the area if you want to experience the different beaches of Oahu.
Below you will first find the quick list of some of the top things to do on Oahu.
Then there will be a bit more on how to plan the days, including getting around Oahu on a budget from place to place by using Honolulu public transportation.
Is 3 days enough for Oahu?
No, 3 days is not enough for Oahu, because more time is always better.
But 3 days in Oahu is enough to get a taste for different parts of the island.
You can experience 3 different areas of the island that will each give you a different vibe!
This means that 3 days can actually be a perfect amount of time to spend on Oahu.
You can experience a little bit of different parts of Oahu in just a few days!
For this plan, youll need 3 FULL days in Oahu.
Renting A Car On Oahu
It can be tough to decide whether or not to rent a car on Oahu. On the one hand, a car gives you the freedom to come and go and to explore the best Oahu scenic drives. It also allows you to use your time most efficiently since you wont be waiting around for a bus or trolley or making stops you dont need. If you stay outside of the big city, you need to rent a car. Check here for the best prices.
At the same time, rental cars on Oahu can be surprisingly expensive and many hotels in Waikiki charge huge parking fees think $45 per night, even if you end up spending the day lounging on the beach and dont drive anywhere.
One potential option if youre staying in Honolulu/Waikiki is to rely on walking, Uber and public transportation for part of the time and just rent a car for one or two days if you want to go further afield. Its definitely worth pricing out a few options and comparing different companies.
Read more: 10 tips for renting a car in Hawaii
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Visit A Botanical Garden
You can go to a many of Oahus botanical garden for free and explore the many tropical plants and lush landscapes on your own instead of booking a tour. Check out the Parks and Rec botanical garden site here of all these spectacular gardens for doing your own DIY tour or follow along with a docent on a guided tour.
Getting Around On Oahu
Of the 4.5 million folks who visit Oahu every year, about 98% arrive by commercial airlines at Honolulu International Airport. The airport is located northwest of the city of Honolulu and about 10 miles from the popular tourist destination of Waikiki.
Visitors who will be staying in Waikiki have numerous options to chose from in getting to their hotel or resort.
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Use Tour Companies To Get Around
There is a lot to do and see on Maui and without a car, you might feel like youre missing out. No Road to Hana, no hiking, no Haleakala sunrise.
Only, without a car, youre now opening yourself up to some pretty amazing tour options. You can take a helicopter ride to Hana and a shuttle home. Have a tour guide show you the Road to Hana in A/C comfort like Hana and Beyond. You can have a guide take you to hike around and swim in waterfalls. Or you can have a shuttle bus pick you up at 2:30 am and drive you up the mountain for a Haleakala sunrise.
Some sailing operators like Kai Kanani will offer pickup and drop-off for snorkeling trips.
It should be noted that like everything else on the island currently, youll want to book in advance.
Hana and Beyond and other tour operators will do the driving for you, like this one on the Road to Hana.
Popular Oahu Sights Are Centrally Located
While our Oahu, Hawaii itinerary below takes you to all corners of the island, the most popular sights worth visiting are located near Honolulu and Waikiki. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is the main commercial airport and is located a mere twenty minutes from central Waikiki.
One doesnt need a rental car to hike Diamond Head from Waikiki or hit up the local breweries in Honolulu. Pearl Harbor is a quick taxi or bus ride away from Waikiki.
Some of the islands best beaches are also along the southern shore around Honolulu or a shuttle ride to East Oahu.
Besides the beautiful Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Beach Park is in front of the Ala Moana Mall and is a local favorite.
Looking for some great snorkeling? Ive taken the bus out of Waikiki to go snorkeling at the famous Hanauma Bay. Queens Beach, part of Waikiki Beach, has good snorkeling also as we share in our Top 5 Oahu Snorkel Spots video.
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Oahu Rental Car Estimate
To estimate the cost of a rental car on Oahu, I looked at various weekly rentals during the busy winter season and the shoulder season of March to May. I also used Discount Hawaii Car Rental as they have the best deals.
A mid-size car averaged $685 a week, including taxes and fees.
Prices change a lot based on time of year, demand, and when one reserves but this is a fair estimate for normal times. Expect to pay more during the busy summer months and holidays but you could pay less during the shoulder season or if a company is running a promotion.
The rental car rate is but one part of renting a car in one of the states with the highest gasoline prices in the country . Expect to pay $70 to fill up the tank after your week of cruising the shoreline.
Parking though is the second largest expense next to the rental car rate. Hotels and resorts in Waikiki and Ko Olina charge a parking fee. The parking fee averages $35 a night.
$245 in parking fees is expected for a one-week stay in Waikiki.
Free and cheaper parking is available but availability is scarce and you may spend a lot of time finding a spot.
The total estimate for a one-week stay on Oahu with a rental car comes to $1,000.
Lets see if we can beat $1,000 with this seven-day Oahu itinerary with no rental car.
Do you need a Jeep on Oahu? Not in the least. But they are fun if you decide to rent.
This Is How To Easily Get Around Hawaii Without A Car Rental
When visiting Hawaii, the first thing that one must pay attention to is planning the accommodation out and making sure that B& Bs, vacation rentals, and hotels are in a super central location. This is essential because people staying in the center of Hawaii will be within walking distance from grocery shops, shopping malls, and restaurants.
Additionally, staying at a location further away from the center of the island will turn out to be a major inconvenience, especially when not having a car in Hawaii. People who have already booked a hotel or Airbnb away from the middle of the city must consider canceling their reservations if they are allowed to and opting for a more centrally-located accommodation. For instance, those staying in Maui must book a stay in Kaanapali, Lahaina, or Kihei. By that, they will be able to walk to snorkel spots, restaurants, beaches, and grocery stores without putting in much effort.
An even better option is to rent an RV, which consists of a drivable hotel. Those are amazing for camping and for exploring various sights on the island.
- Recommended: People willing to rent a camper van in Hawaii must opt for Surfer Van Hawaii in Oahu, Huakai Campers on the Big Island, and Kauai Camper Rental on Kauai.
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Find The Bridge At Maunawili Hike
The Maunawili hike is another trail into the jungle! You will find a large pool of water and even a rope swing. But can you get off the beaten path and find the bridge?
Bodyboard in the Shore break at Sandys
Nicknamed Neck Break Beach the waves at Sandy Beach are unforgiving. Huge waves crash directly onto sand or only a few feet of water. It sounds like there would be few venturing into the water however, this is the most crowded beach on a weekend. Locals flock to get barrels before getting dumped and the beach is always full of action.
Parasailing at Waikiki
What better way to see Oahu than from hundreds of feet up in the air. Parasailing is the perfect activity on Oahu as the sun sets so you can enjoy the beautiful colors from up high, looking down on the city. This tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off.
Book your tour:Parasailing on Oahu
See a Hawaiian Monk Seal
The Hawaiian monk seal is the only seal native to Hawaii and is one of only two mammals native to the islands. I was lucky enough to see a few monk seals both in the ocean and on shore. They are protected so once they swim onto the shore you must keep a safe distance from them and definitely dont touch them.
Visit Makua beach
Full blog post: Makua Beach
Go for the Laie cliff jump
A 25-30 ft cliff jump on the north shore is a great spot to spend the day. Make sure the conditions are right, the water is deep enough and you know the surroundings before taking the plunge.
Consider Alternative Rental Companies
This is probably my most favorite recommendation. Why not book a camper van? We enjoyed a three-day trip with a VW Westfalia over to Hana, but these camper vans arent only good for camping. Consider cruising around in one to see the sights on the island. We rented ours from Maui Westy Campers, but you can search for other camper van rental companies or look on Outdoorsy.
We also love using local rental car companies when we can. Theyre easy to call and talk to and can usually help you find a day or two of availability to do some fun days out. Some local rental companies include:
Maybe the Ecto-1 will be available on Turo in Maui! Oh, how I miss the Lahaina Halloween Parade.
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Challenge Yourself To Climb Up Koko Head
Climbing the steep Koko crater trail is a big challenge but you will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Eastern side of Oahu on your 1050 steps up to the top of the crater. Parking is free and easy and the trail head is easy to spot and before you know, youll be doing a major stair master challenge. Check out more details of the Koko Crater trail here for more information and images.
This Car Rental Option In Hawaii Is Much Cheaper Than The Traditional Way
Theres a unique car rental service in Hawaii, known as Turo, which allows one to rent a car from an individual instead of dealing with Budget, National, or other national car rental agencies. While Turo offers its users several benefits, it also presents some cons. Among its advantages, the Turo presents much lower prices than those charged at car rental agencies. Moreover, even if one is booking late, they will manage to get a car. On the disadvantages side, people renting a car through Turo will be dealing with an individual instead of a professional. As a result, sometimes, the rented car might present bad quality and lack cleanliness.
Despite the various options that people can use to tour Hawaii, some may still insist on renting a car and exploring the islands quickly. If no choice is possible other than renting a car, people will be recommended to reschedule their trip altogether. In the end, the car rental shortage will not last forever, and people looking to get the most out of their Hawaiian vacation would love to rent a car. Moreover, many consider visiting Hawaii a once-in-a-lifetime trip, meaning they wont accept touring the city without having their car to drive. Still, many options are available for getting around the island, including catching the city bus in Honolulu or renting a U-Haul.
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Hawaii Feels Very Safe For Solo Travellers
My favourite part of solo travel in Hawaii is how safe I felt. In fairness, I didnt go out to any bars or clubs but from walking around Waikiki alone during the day and evenings I never had an issue. No cat calls or snide comments, nothing. Im sure part of that had to do with the fact that I was also in busy tourist areas but it felt pretty good to feel safe wandering around as a young woman alone.
Public Transit Around The Island Is Definitely Lacking
I think this was my biggest disappointment when it came to solo travel in Oahu. While I could easily get around Waikiki and Honolulu with the local bus service, travelling around the Island itself was much more difficult- bordering on impossible. Maybe if I had more time and could afford to spend hours on small buses stopping at each town across the way but lets be honest, no one comes to Hawaii to spend hours sitting on a bus.
Renting a car is clearly the best choice when it comes to the Hawaiian Islands but that wasnt an option for me so I felt pretty stuck in Honolulu. Which wasnt awful, I found things to do, but Honolulu wasnt exactly the Hawaii I wanted to see. I wanted rainforest and mountains and secluded beaches. Not skyscrapers and shopping malls and crowds.
Thankfully, there are plenty of day tour options from Waikiki area that will take you to explore more of the island. I did a full day circle island tourone day which was perfect for seeing the countryside or, in my mind, the real Hawaii. I also splurged on a half day trip out to the west coast of the island to go swimming with wild dolphins. While neither experience was cheap, I was grateful for all the tour options available that meant I could get out of the city.
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How To Get Around Hawaii Without A Car Tip #: Waikiki Walking Distance
Waikiki is known to be a tourist center for those visiting the islands. However there are actually many high rise condominiums in the area that attract locals because of its beautiful views and short walking distance the beach and other locations. For example, Ala Moana, a popular shopping center is close by. Several restaurants, grocery stores, and nightlife centers are also nearby. If you live in Waikiki, or surrounding areas, theres a good chance that things will be in walking distance to you. I did not grow up in Waikiki, but where I did was close enough to grocery stores that I would ride my bike there as a kid. My sister and I would ride our bikes to get ice cream which would melt by the time we got back. But nonetheless, you get the point.