Guide To: Car Hire and Driving in Hawaii


If you’ve never considered car hire on your travels before then now might be the time to consider the change, especially if you are heading in the direction of Hawaii sometime in the near future! During my recent visit to Hawaii and more specifically Oahu, Maui and Kauai, I hired a car for all three islands and can guarantee it was the best way to really get out and explore more of the untouched parts of the islands and get away from the crowded tourist hotspots.

And fear not, as Hawaiian drivers are incredibly courteous, calm and cautious on the roads. While Oahu is significantly more build up with busy highways and tourist strips such as Waikiki, the other islands are much more relaxed. And really, I was utterly surprised just how much more pleasant it was in comparison to the aggressive drivers back home.


So why should you hire a car?


Get off the beaten track

Explore untouched and secret spots away from busy touristy areas. These will make the most memorable experiences when you discover secret, secluded beaches or beautiful lush rainforests.


No need to spend money on tours

There is no need to spend money on tours when you have a car to use to its full potential. The money spent on car hire will justify this.


Create your own itinerary

You can create your very own intinery that suits you, and only you. Unlike when you are touring around with a group of people, you can stop as you please, eat where you want and get out of bed when it suits you…that freedom feels so good!



Do it for the great experience. Driving in another country can seem daunting and scary but it really is an experience that will teach you and one you will never forget. And chances are you will come home with a story or two to tell!



Things to consider


Hotel parking fees

Check with your hotel when booking if they have available parking and if it’s going to cost you to park each day. Some are free but some aren’t, so its worth checking.


Filling up with fuel

It seems like a pretty straight forward procedure, however it can be done slightly different in other countries (coming from Australia is was different!). Generally if you are a local, they just stick their credit card straight into the machine at the bowzer, pay and fill up.


Miles vs Kilometres & Galleons vs Litres

Naturally, coming from Australia this confused me! As a general guide, approx.

1 mile = 1.6 kms

1 Galleon = approx. 3.7 Litres


Road Rule Differences

– Drivers seat on the left side!

– Drive on the opposite side (right). You must stick to the right lanes and where there are two lanes, the left side is generally the ‘fast/overtaking’ lane.

– When you come up to a red light, you are able to turn right, given there is no oncoming traffic, however turning left is a big no-no.

– Be patient & slow down. Drivers in Hawaii, particularly on the quieter islands tend to drive at a slower pace as there are slower speed limits – and no one is in a rush, so just sit back and relax!

– You must wear seatbelts at all times.

– Drink driving is not tolerated in Hawaii. Do not exceed 0.08, or better, if you know you will be driving don’t drink at all.

– As a rule of thumb, consider all general road rules apply as they do when you are driving back home.


Driving through a two lane road in Maui!


Driving Tips


Don’t honk

This is considered incredibly rude and only really used by locals when they consider it an emergency or if someone is driving dangerously.


Waving is appreciated

Or ‘shaka’ if you will. You will see shaka being used a lot amongst locals and for those who don’t know, it is an Hawaiian wave they have down pat. It entails waving your thumb and pinky finger while the rest of your fingers are closed..

You will see it often gestured by drivers particularly when there is a nice deed being done, for e.g. letting someone merge into your crowded lane, general giving way, pulling over to let people by on one lane roads or just being an all round friendly driver.


Pull over to let locals past

It’s pretty easy to get distracted by the beautiful views you will see as you drive by, and naturally you will probably be driving a little slower than you might usually as you aren’t used to the roads and conditions of an unfamiliar place. Just remember to glance in your mirror often to check if you are holding people up. If you see a line of cars behind you, be courteous, pull over and let them by before proceeding on.


Driving in the clouds in Maui to Haleakala Crater


Additional costs


Car insurance

I cannot stress this point enough! Get covered for $0 excess in case anything happens e.g. road side help, stealth and accidents – it’s really worth it, as in the case of something disastrous happening (not that it would but if it did) you will be completely covered.



For approx. $12 to $20 a day I would recommend purchasing one of the GPS’s available at the car hire place. They all have them and are a great navigation device. It’s stress free and no need to be looking up road maps and you won’t be getting lost. It’s really the way to go. Some of the later devices even have Wi-Fi access available 24/7 …bonus for all those internet junkies!


Parking Fees

Check with the hotel you are staying or are looking at booking to see if they have parking available and if it comes at a cost. That way you won’t be surprised by any parking fees that you might be hit with when you check out.



Don’t panic! Drivers in Hawaii are generally pretty laid back and calm on the roads (more so on the islands than in Oahu FYI) so just have a good time and don’t get frazzled if you slip up once or twice. It’s a great experience and there will be many breathtaking landscapes to take in, so drive with care and consider all the other road users around you.


 $ Dollar Rentals $

There are many companies available that you can go through, however from personal experience and one company I could highly recommend after great service was Dollar Rentals.



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    Exploring Maui: Things I Did & Things I Recommend – Pocketfull of Me
    April 14, 2015 at 7:50 am

    […] You could definitely get by doing booked day trips and excursions to see parts of Maui if you wish too, however hiring a car is actually quite affordable and you have the ability to explore parts of Maui you wouldn’t necessarily get to if you were on a tour. It’s a great option if you want to get off the beaten track or if you want to create your own itinerary. You can read my guide on car hire in Hawaii here for more info. […]

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