Renting a car on Oahu or not?

Are you debating if you should rent a car on Oahu or not? Here is our take on this.


  • Renting a car on Oahu is certainly a good idea if you plan to do a lot of exploring. You will be independent to go wherever you want to and stay as long as you want to vs. guided tours or city buses that run on a schedule.
    Recently The Bus (the local public bus) schedule was changed and quite a few bus routes were either eliminated or buses run less frequent.
  • You can bring more items with you while traveling – Road by the beachcamera, pack your own food, beach chair or umbrella, etc. It is especially convenient if you travel with small children.
  • Other people will not sit next to you so you will have more privacy. Also, if you take the bus you may not even get a seat if it’s crowded.
  • Car rental companies on Oahu provide brochures including maps giving you an idea of all points of interest. You can also rent an additional GPS system.
  • You can choose the type of car you want to rent.


  • If you plan to stay mainly in the Waikiki area you don’t need to rent a car. Waikiki has it all – restaurants, beaches, shops and a variety of outdoor and evening entertainment. Also, most of the hotels charge extra if you have a rental car.
  • TrafficThe small island of Oahu has almost a million residents, so the island’s streets are pretty busy. There is usually a lot of traffic in and out of Honolulu and Waikiki.
  • Public parking is another issue. Finding a parking spot at popular beach parks such as Waikiki Beach, Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach can be challenging. These places are usually full even on days when there are no major events going on. You will find paid parking options, especially in Waikiki and Honolulu but it is costly.
  • There is always the risk of car break-ins, occurring especially at beach parks so don’t be surprised if you see smashed window glass in parking lots. Don’t leave any valuables inside the car. If you carry any packages or bags with food or less valuable items, best is to lock them in the trunk.
  • If you are not familiar with the island you need to spend much more attention on the road, where to turn, where not to turn, etc. That’s why many first-time visitors prefer guided tours, so they won’t have to worry about driving.