Everything You Need To Know About Driving in Honolulu

Honolulu’s traffic is some of the most congested in the country, but there are ways to avoid getting stuck in it.
Written by Matt Nightingale
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Honolulu is a major tourist destination and the biggest city in the state of Hawaii. The worst times to drive in Honolulu are rush hour and during big wave season.
With majestic volcanos and paradise-like beaches, Honolulu attracts nearly six million visitors a year. And with all those tourists comes traffic.
Whether you’re planning your dream getaway or relocating to the Aloha State, we've got you covered. In this guide we’ll look at some local traffic laws, best and worst times to drive in Honolulu, and even how the city’s traffic can affect your
car insurance
. So, read on and you’ll find everything you need to navigate The Big Pineapple like a pro.
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What is driving in Honolulu like?

Honolulu consistently ranks among the cities with the worst traffic in the country. Gridlock is commonplace in Honolulu and the average Honolulan loses 64 hours stuck in traffic each year.
On the upside, the average commute for drivers in Honolulu is 23.4 minutes which is less than the national average. Car insurance is also more affordable than the national average, by about $1470 per year. But Honolulu's drivers give some of that money back through significantly higher gas prices, high car registration prices, and very expensive parking rates.
Here are some other factors that you’ll need to consider when driving in Honolulu.


Honolulu's street system is a collection of winding streets connected by major arteries like the Ala Moana Boulevard, Kamehameha Highway, the H201, and the H3 highways, to name a few. The streets are named, not numbered. Streets are marked well, however, so getting around shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.
Driving is at its most hectic in downtown Honolulu. Some streets you’ll hear about often are Kalakaua Avenue, the city’s glitzy and bustling main street, the waterfront Ala Wai Boulevard, and Ala Moana Boulevard, the second busiest drag in the city. 
Ala Moana Blvd. has been called one of the most dangerous streets to drive in the country. Traffic can also get manic at the intersection where King St., South St., Kapiolani Blvd., and Alapai St. all converge in a cluster of competing one-way and two-way streets.


While congestion is a problem, the biggest challenge for drivers in Honolulu is probably the parking. Parking in Honolulu can get very expensive and drivers spend 20 minutes on average looking for a spot. Here’s a quick breakdown of parking in Honolulu:
  • Street parking: Street parking is available at a rate of $1.50 per hour. There are a lot of rules and time bans governing street parking, so be sure to check street signage to avoid getting towed.
  • Hotel parking: Most hotels offer parking at a rate of around $30 to $50 per night. Valet parking will cost you more than self-parking, and tips are not included in that price. Some resorts include the cost of parking in the resort fee, so be sure to confirm when you make your reservation.
  • In-and-out privileges: When you do find parking arrangements, check to see if your parking comes with in-and-out privileges or if you’ll need to pay every time you park. You should also check if your fees are determined by 24-hour blocks or by the calendar day.
  • Public garages: Public garages are also available for parking, however, the fees at these garages can vary tremendously, and you’ll likely be parked further away from your hotel than you’d like.


Summers in Honolulu are dry and hot and can wreak havoc on vehicles. High temperatures can cause tires to blow out and engines to overheat and catch fire. It's important to make sure that all of your fluids are topped up and your tires are properly pressurized when driving around Honolulu.
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Traffic and transportation options in Honolulu

The worst time to drive in Honolulu is during rush hour between 6 AM to 9 AM and 3 PM to 6 PM. Downtown Honolulu is definitely a place to avoid during rush hour, especially the area surrounding Ala Moana Blvd.
Traffic on the Kamehameha Highway can get particularly bad during Big Wave season when the big wave surfing competitions are on. The Big Wave season usually lasts from late October through to March.  
The best times to drive in Honolulu are between 9 AM and 3 PM, and during the summer months.
If you want some help navigating you can download the
Go Akamai app
which gives users an interactive congestion map, real-time driving times, and even offers access to traffic cameras. Or if you prefer the old-school method, you can tune into
radio for live traffic updates.

Should I rent a car in Honolulu?

Honolulu is definitely a driving city and if you’re planning on taking any day trips out of town, renting a car is a good option. 
The biggest problem you face when renting a car is finding a place to park it, especially overnight. One option is simply to rent a car every day and return it at night to avoid having to pay for expensive overnight parking.
You can also take advantage of
Hui Car Share
. This allows you to pick up a car from one of Hui’s 70+ locations, use it during the day, and return it when you’re done. Gas is free with this option, and you don’t have to worry about that expensive overnight parking.
If you’d rather not drive on vacation, rideshare options like Lyft and Uber are available in Honolulu. Taxis are available, too, but are very expensive, with rates of $5.88 per mile traveled. Honolulu’s public bus system is an affordable alternative to taxis and rideshares. One-way fares cost $2.75, or you can purchase a day pass from the driver for $5.50.
MORE: How to avoid being unfairly charged for rental car damage

Local driving laws in Honolulu

If you do plan on driving while you’re in Honolulu, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with local driving laws to avoid getting any unwanted tickets. Here are a few local laws to keep in mind:
  • It is illegal for drivers to use handheld mobile electronic devices in Honolulu. Be sure to use a hands-free setup if you need to use your phone to navigate while driving.
  • Speeding tickets typically bring a $200 fine, while speeding in a construction zone will cost you $350, and speeding in a school zone will cost $375.
  • Drivers must yield the right of way to emergency vehicles by pulling over as close to the right-hand curb as possible to let emergency vehicles pass.
  • Honolulu will be launching a two-year red light camera pilot project in the summer of 2022 in an effort to reduce red-light violations.

Crime rate in Honolulu

The crime rate in the Hawaiian capital is higher than the national average, but lower than in other cities of comparable size. However, Honolulu’s vehicle theft rate is nearly double the national average, which negatively affects motorists by driving up car insurance rates.
Honolulu is very safe for tourists. If you are planning on settling down in the area, some of the safer areas to consider include Manoa, Kaimuki, Kapolei, and Ewa Beach. Setting yourself up in one of these low-crime neighborhoods can help keep your car insurance rates low.

How to find car insurance in Honolulu

Accidents happen—even in Paradise—so car insurance is necessary. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay a ton for great coverage. If you want the best possible rate on car insurance in Honolulu, get the
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