Driving is by far the best way to travel around the islands of Hawaii. There’s not much by way of public transportation on most of the islands, and most of the major ones are too big to be experienced on foot or with a bicycle. However, driving in Hawaii does come with its own set of challenges that you should be prepared for, including poor road conditions. While the more populated islands like O’ahu or the Big Island have decent roads, the more rural isles like Kaua’i have roads that are often unpaved and difficult to drive on. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to rent a Jeep instead of a standard sedan when visiting Hawaii, especially if you intend to spend some time out in nature. Even the paved roads aren’t in the best condition, so be prepared for some rough driving.
The traffic in Hawaii can also be surprisingly heavy, especially on O’ahu. In fact, the traffic conditions in Honolulu rank among the worst in the nation, competing with famously gridlocked cities like Los Angeles and New York. If you plan on spending time in the city, you should expect to sit in traffic for longer than you’d like. Hawaii also has extremely high gas prices, ranking just below California at the top of the list of most expensive states to buy gas in. As of March 2023, when this blog post was written, the average price of regular grade gas in Hawaii was $4.82 per gallon, about $1.40 higher than the national average.
Despite the downsides of driving in Hawaii, it’s still well worth it to rent a vehicle. The Hawaiian Islands have some of the most gorgeous scenic routes in the country, including the Road to Hana and the Honoapiilani Highway.
To make the most of your trip, we recommend checking out our All Hawaii Self-Guided Driving Tour Bundle. More prolific travelers might also be interested in Action+, a yearly subscription that grants access to all 99+ of our US tours.
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