Do You Need a Car in Waikiki?

You probably won’t need a rental car while staying in Waikiki, thanks to the great public transportation options and general walkability. Read more here!
Written by Zachary Morgan
Reviewed by Brittni Brinn
If your big trip to Waikiki is coming up soon, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t really need to rent a car to enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful Hawaiian city!
Having a car when you’re visiting a new town can be a huge asset—or a huge pain! Depending on the driveability of a city, transit options, and nearby attractions, you may be able to get away with steering clear of a rental.
Wondering whether or not to rent a car for your relaxing getaway in Waikiki? Well, don’t worry about a thing, because this guide can help you decide!
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Where to get a rental car in Waikiki

Part of the beauty of Waikiki is how accessible everything is, with plenty of excellent shops, restaurants, and beaches well within walking distance of the major hotels. If you want to explore the rest of the island, though, a car might come in handy.
Fortunately, there are plenty of places to get a rental car in Waikiki, and most of them are directly adjacent to the beach.
If you love good customer service and can’t say no to a quality rewards program, we’d recommend
Enterprise
or
Hertz
. If competitive discounts and unlimited mileage are more your speed, you couldn’t go wrong with
Thrifty
,
Budget
, or
Avis
.
Try to pick a vehicle that is as small as possible. Don’t go for anything big and unwieldy, because both
driving and parking
can be a bit of a challenge. When it’s time to squeeze into that last spot or make a light in the nick of time, you’ll be happy you went with a smaller, more nimble vehicle.
Smaller cars are also cheaper to rent, which is really beneficial considering that the average weekly price for a rental car in Waikiki can go as high as $2,500! One trick you could use to save money is to wait until the last possible minute to rent your car. It might seem counterintuitive, but drivers who book in advance could pay as much as 13% extra for their rental compared to those who wait until right before they leave.
MORE: 7 ways to save money on car rentals

Do you need rental car insurance?

Chances are, the salesperson is going to talk your ear off about purchasing rental car insurance, but do you actually need it?
If you already have a full coverage car insurance policy, you’re already protected and can skip the rental car insurance. Any
collision
and
comprehensive coverage
that you have on your policy should also extend to your rental vehicle. It’s even possible that you already have free rental car insurance through your credit card provider.
However, if you’re only carrying
basic liability insurance
or less, you would be better off paying for the rental car insurance since the coverage from the collision damage waiver (CDW) is much more extensive.
MORE: How to avoid being unfairly charged for rental car damage

Do you need a car in Waikiki?

Since we’ve already covered where and how to get a rental car in Waikiki, it’s time to discuss whether or not you actually need one. 
The answer honestly depends on the nature of your trip. If you’re planning to simply spend most of your time by the pool or on the beach, browse the shops, and enjoy the fine restaurants, then you would be much better suited to traveling on foot. With such lovely weather and scenery, you would almost be doing yourself a disservice by not walking around and taking it all in!
If you want to explore the rest of Honolulu and/or the island of Oahu, it would make more sense to rent a car. There is, however, a bus service that covers the majority of the island, which is probably the more scenic and affordable option.

Where public transportation can take you

As we just mentioned, the island of Oahu has an efficient and expansive bus service that covers virtually the entire island—a guide to the bus routes can be found
here
. The best way to get around Waikiki proper, though, is the
Trolley
. You can get on or off as you please, and day passes are available starting at $25 for adults.
The Trolley can take you to most of the major attractions in Waikiki, including:
  • Duke Kahanamoku Statue
  • Waikiki Shopping Plaza
  • Waikiki Beach
  • Honolulu Zoo
  • Trump International Hotel
  • Koko Marina Center
  • Kahala Mall
  • Sea Life Park
  • Halona Blow Hole
Naturally, Uber, Lyft, and other taxi services are available in Waikiki and can help cover the blind spots in public transportation at a little extra cost.

Where public transportation can’t take you

Well, Waikiki is on an island after all, so there aren’t many places you can’t go between the bus and the trolley. In fact, the Honolulu bus system is ranked as one of the best public transport systems in the entire world!
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