By Car—Oahu residents own more than 686,000 registered vehicles, but they have only 1,500 miles of mostly two-lane roads to use. That’s 450 cars for every mile—a fact that becomes abundantly clear during morning and evening rush hours. You can (mostly) avoid the gridlock by driving between 9am and 2pm or after 7pm.
All of the major car-rental firms have agencies on Oahu at the airport and in Waikiki. For listings, see chapter 10. For tips on insurance and driving rules in Hawaii, see “Getting Around Hawaii”).
By Bus—One of the best deals anywhere, TheBus will take you around the whole island for $2.50 ($1.25 for children age 6–17)—if you have the time. To get to the North Shore and back takes 4 hours, twice as long as if you travel by car. But for shorter distances, TheBus is great, and it goes almost everywhere almost all the time. If you’re planning on sticking to the Waikiki–Ala Moana–Downtown region, TheBus will save you a lot of car hassle and expense. The most popular route is no. 8, which arrives every 10 minutes or so to shuttle people between Waikiki and Ala Moana Center (the ride takes 15–20 min.). The no. 19 (Airport/Hickam), no. 20 (Airport/Halawa Gate), and no. 40 (Waipahu/Ala Moana) cover the same stretch. Waikiki service begins daily at 5am and runs until midnight; most buses run about every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the evening.
The Circle Island–North Shore route is no. 52 (Wahiawa/Circle Island); the Circle Island–South Shore route is no. 55 (Kaneohe/Circle Island). Both routes leave Ala Moana Center every 30 minutes and take about 4 1/2 hours to circle the island. Be aware that at Turtle Bay Resort, just outside Kahuku, the 52 becomes the 55 and returns to Honolulu via the coast, and the 55 becomes the 52 and returns to Honolulu on the inland route. (Translation: You’ll have to get off and switch buses to complete your island tour.) There are express buses available to some areas (for example, no. 54 to Pearl City, no. 85 to Kailua and to Kaneohe).
For more information on routes and schedules, call TheBus (808/848-5555 or 808/296-1818 for recorded information) or check out www.thebus.org, which provides timetables and maps for all routes, plus directions to many local attractions and a list of upcoming events. Taking TheBus is often easier than parking your car.
By Taxi—Oahu’s major cab companies offer 24-hour, islandwide, radio-dispatched service, with multilingual drivers and air-conditioned cars, limos, and vans, including vehicles equipped with wheelchair lifts (there’s a $9 charge for wheelchairs). Fares are standard for all taxi firms. From the airport, expect to pay about $35 to $40 to Waikiki, about $25 to $35 to downtown, $60 and up to Kailua, about $60-plus to Hawaii Kai, and about $90 to $125 to the North Shore (plus tip). Plus there may be a $4.75 fee per piece of luggage.
Uber, the taxi-hailing app, has arrived in Honolulu. Use it on your phone to summon and pay for a ride in a private vehicle (standard taxi meter rates, plus a $1 surcharge; gratuity automatically added). If you prefer to go the old-fashioned route, try The Cab (www.thecabhawaii.com; 808/422-2222) or EcoCab (www.ecocabhawaii.com; 808/979-1010), an all-hybrid taxi fleet.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.