Do You Need a Car In Kaua'i?

Having a rental car while traveling in Kaua'i can be super helpful, especially if you’re planning to do a lot of hiking.
Written by Liz Jenson
Reviewed by Pat Roache
While there are public transportation options in Kaua'i, Hawaii, having a rental car can still be helpful if you’re operating on a schedule.
Public transportation in Kaua'i isn’t as frequent as it is in big cities, and you may find that some of your desired destinations won’t be reachable via bus or cab at all. In these situations, having a rental car to get yourself from one location to another can be super helpful.
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Where to get a rental car in Kaua'i

When visiting the beautiful city of Kaua'i, Hawaii, having a vehicle of some kind at your disposal can be really helpful. While this city does offer some public transportation options, the bus won’t come as often or visit as many stops as it might in a big city. You could find yourself paying for a very expensive Uber if you don’t plan your day trips accordingly.
To find a rental car in the Aloha State, you may need to turn to big-name companies like
Enterprise Rent-A-Car
, and
. These companies offer great customer service and loyalty programs, so if you rent cars for trips frequently, it might be worth choosing your favorite and sticking to it.
Of course, you could also turn to local vehicle rental companies, like
Discount Hawaii Car Rentals
. This company is based in Hawaii and only serves people on the islands, so you’ll get service from people who know a lot about the lay of the land and which vehicles might work best.
Many travelers recommend renting a convertible so that you can fully enjoy the balmy breezes and fresh air that Kaua’i has to offer. You’ll be able to stick to paved roads if you like, so don’t worry about getting a super sturdy car. If you’re planning to do a lot of hiking off the beaten path, however, it might be helpful to rent a 4x4 vehicle, as this will help you travel more safely on rough terrain.
On average, you can expect to pay about $152 per day for a rental car in Kaua'i, so you won’t break the bank by getting a vehicle for a day or two of your trip. This is significantly cheaper than most U.S. cities, too, so you can feel comfortable knowing that you’re getting a good rate! To save even more, though, it’s a good idea to book your car rental in advance, as many companies will offer discounts for drivers who plan ahead.

Do you need rental car insurance?

Whether you’re renting a car in Hawaii or Alaska,
rental car insurance
will typically be offered by your vehicle rental company. But is this product necessary for your safety while you’re traveling?
In truth, it depends on what type of car insurance you have. This is because if you have a full coverage auto insurance policy of your own, you probably won’t need the rental company’s insurance. The
comprehensive coverage
that you already pay for will extend to your rental car, so purchasing extra insurance isn’t necessary. You may even have rental car insurance through your credit card!
If your vehicle just has
basic liability insurance
, or if you don’t carry car insurance at all, the collision damage waiver (CDW) offered by your rental company is a great option. This covers collisions, loss of use to the rental company, towing charges, administrative fees, and diminished value. Basically, your wallet will be safe if you get into an accident.

Do you need a rental car in Kaua'i?

Now that you know a little more about the process of renting a car in Kaua'i, let’s decide: is this extra cost necessary for a good trip?
According to most travelers, yes! While Kaua'i is on an island, there’s a lot of ground to cover. You could always opt for rental bikes, of course, but you’ll still need to spend more time traveling than you would in a car—and your range will be pretty limited.
So, unless you’d like to remain in the same area for the entirety of your stay in Kaua'i, having a rental car is essential to a vacation full of secret beaches, beautiful hiking trails, and remote locations free of tourist crowds!
Of course, there are also public transportation options available in Kaua'i! The main issue that travelers reported is that public transportation is pretty limited and infrequent. This means that your traveling options will need to be much more structured if you’re hoping to use public transportation.
Let’s take a look at where you can go and what you can do on public transportation in this beautiful area.

Where public transportation can take you

If you intend to use public transportation rather than taxi services or rideshares, you’ll be using The Kaua'i Bus. There are eight bus routes in Kaua'i that run from 5:30 a.m. until 9:45 p.m. These routes include locations like Kekaha, Wailua Homesteads, Lawai, Koloa, Lihue, Kalaheo, and Kapaa.

Where public transportation can’t take you

One of the main draws about staying in a place like Kaua'i is the variety of activity options at your disposal. While you can certainly get to some of the most popular beaches, restaurants, and other tourist spots on the Kaua'i bus, some of the more remorse locations will be much more accessible via car.
Places that you can’t get to via bus in Kaua'i include secret beaches and many hiking spots. If you’re hoping to explore beautiful, scenic locations without lots of other people around, you’ll need to find another method of travel.

Other transportation options in Kaua'i

One of the most popular forms of transportation in Kaua'i is rental bikes! Services like
Eco eBikes Kaua'i
Kaua'i Beach Bike Rentals
are great options for visitors hoping to have a more localized experience without the hassle of using public transportation. This is also a great activity for a day trip since it allows you to slow down and appreciate the beautiful scenery that Hawaii has to offer.
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