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Do you need a car for vacation in Honolulu? The answer may not be very straightforward as it depends on where you’re staying, for how long, and what your intent is for your vacation. Unless you just want to sit on the beach or by the pool all day every day you’ll likely need to figure out your transportation options.
But the quick answer after spending 4 days in Oahu (and having visited three times) is no, you don’t necessarily need a car to enjoy your vacation on the island of Oahu. There are many excursions and activities that will offer pick-up. Even a full tour around the island of Oahu! So, you’re not limited by not having a rental car. This Oahu island travel guide will outline great activities you can easily do without renting a car in Hawaii.
To add more information to that decision, parking isn’t easy, and for most hotels, it costs extra, so not having to deal with picking a rental car company, paying a large amount per day for the car rental, parking fees, car insurance, and possibly having a hold on your credit card would be nice! Plus you can save money to spend on activities or food when Hawaii car prices for rentals can be expensive! This is especially important if you are visiting multiple Hawaiian islands. Additionally, the Hawaii car rental age is twenty five years of age and up (the standard requirement in the United States).
Let’s review some of the best activities you can do on the island of Oahu without having to rent a car!
**Note: most of these activity prices on the links are on a per person basis. (unless otherwise noted.)
TOP RECOMMENDATION: Hawaiian Full Day Adventure: Private & Customizable
This tour is the next best thing to renting a car in Hawaii. This fully private and customizable tour will pick you up anywhere on the island and work with you to create a full day tour seeing and doing the things you want to do!
Furthermore, you can use their snorkeling equipment, surfboards, SUPs, and kayaks. Snacks and water are even provided! So include this fun day in your Oahu itinerary and show up with a curious mindset to explore Oahu and have the best full day adventure without having to rent a car!
Especially if it’s your first time to Oahu and you’re not wanting to rent a car, this full 9 day tour will provide a good overview and experience of the island of Oahu.
You will stop at and experience all of Oahu’s must see attractions on one tour! From Diamond Head, The North Shore Beaches, Halona Blow Hole & Hanauma Bay. (Plus much much more!) This tour even includes no hassle pick up from a number of Honolulu & Waikiki area hotels. It’s a great taste of Oahu (beyond the Waikiki beach area) in a day!
This tour is practically like having your own car, however, being in Honolulu without a car this is your next best option for getting around and seeing the things you want to see. Since this is a private tour, you can customize your stops and have more flexibility, and you will get more attention from your tour guide. This is perfect for annoying people like me who have a lot of random questions I love to ask locals.
Included in this private tour is pick up directly from your hotel or accommodation. If you’re hesitant about Hawaii without a car, this tour is your sign that you can have it all without hiring a car in Hawaii.
What are you waiting for, book below!
This full day tour starts bright and early from your hotel in the Honolulu area. A small group tour with amazing stops!
You’ll hike the famous Diamond Head Crater to see beautiful views out over Waikiki, visit the Holona Blowhole, a Macadamia Nut Farm, Kualoa Regional Beach Park where you will see views of the Chinaman’s hat, the opportunity to purchase lunch at food trucks and farm fresh fruit stands, sunset beach, Haleiwa Beach Park, and the Dole Pineapple Plantation where you can have some tasty Dole whip ice cream!
All in all, this tour is a great way to explore beyond Waikiki and hit some of the must see stops on the island of Oahu.
This full day tour around the Island of Oahu includes lunch at a shrimp stand! (If you’re vegetarian or do not enjoy seafood there are other options available.) All entry fees to locations you’ll visit are covered in the cost of the tour.
Start your day by being picked up at your hotel and you will enjoy 10 different stops or pass by’s throughout the day including extended time at Waimea Arboreutem and the Dole Pineapple Plantation.
This small group tour gives you an abbreviated overview of Oahu making stops at a few of the island’s highlights while taking additional time to snorkel with Sea turtles. If you’re looking for a water adventure in addition to seeing a lot of sights this will be the tour for you!
Conveniently you won’t need a car as you will arrange pick up either at your hotel or a nearby Waikiki hotel.
Pickup is offered for this traditional Hawaiian luau or barbecue. Activities such as learning to play the ukelele, hula dance or string a flower lei will give you a lot of cultural appreciation that will last for years to come. These activities are family friendly so little ones are sure to be entertained.
During the luau, you will enjoy a buffet dinner, Hawaiian cultural activities, and the main event a fire show!
Alcoholic drinks are extra but are available to purchase. Be sure to try the traditional Hawaiian poi while there!
A Hawaiian luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast that includes food, music, and dance. It is a great way to experience local Hawaiian culture and history.
Here are some of the things you can expect at a Chief’s Hawaiian luau:
- A traditional Hawaiian feast with food like poi, kalua pork, and laulau.
- Hawaiian music and dance performances. (Including fire dance)
- A chance to learn about Hawaiian culture and history.
- A transfer via bus from the Waikiki area.
If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience, I highly recommend attending a Hawaiian luau!
A luau located right in the heart of Waikiki Beach at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort. Enjoy traditional Hawaiian music, a buffet dinner, and an enchanting hula show highlighting Polynesian culture and history.
Several levels are available for this experience some only include the hula show, some include dinner and VIP options include everything as well as alcoholic drinks. You can’t go wrong with any of the options for an unforgettable evening in the heart of Waikiki Beach on Oahu.
Spend a morning completing one of Oahu’s most popular hikes, Diamond Head. Included in this tour is convenient round trip transportation from Waikiki Hotels so you’ll hit the trail with no time to spare!
The climb can be moderately strenuous and it isn’t necessarily for those who aren’t in decent physical condition, the elderly, or really young children. The path, however, is paved so it’s pretty manageable for the average person. The effort is worth the views out over Waikiki and the beautiful turquoise blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
If you’re looking for a fun happy hour with views, the sunset sailing cruise is a perfect activity! It departs from a Waikiki hotel, so you won’t need a car to get there which is good because the drinks will be flowing.
The admission includes unlimited drinks aboard the catamaran, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Experience Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head from a different perspective as the sun sets over the ocean.
This evening tour includes pick up and drop off as long as you book more than 24 hours in advance. Drinks are provided for those who are 21 years of age and older. However, this tour operates on a BYOB policy, so you can bring your own food and beverages to enjoy (including alcohol.)
Cruise along the Waikiki coast enjoying the views until it’s time to be dazzled by the amazing fireworks display out over the ocean at night.
If you’re looking for an amazing day snorkeling in the pristine sparkling waters of Hanauma Bay. Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations on the island of Oahu.
In 1967 it was declared a protected marine life conservation area and an underwater park. If you want to see marine life underwater, this is the spot!
The bay area was formed by a volcanic cone so the bay is protected by tall crater walls. The peripheral reef makes the water in the bay calm and easy to swim in. Unlike some beaches across Hawaii where large waves are prevalent.
You can choose a morning or afternoon tour with a pickup that’s convenient for you. This tour isn’t available every day so be sure to plan your time in Oahu carefully to accommodate!
This small group tour is ideal if you aren’t hiring a car in Hawaii. But, if you’re also short on time and want to see a lot of the highlights this will be the tour for you!
This tour includes pick up and drop off at Waikiki area hotels, a tour around the island of Oahu, the use of snorkeling equipment, and a local guide.
Be sure you plan ahead and bring your swimsuit/a change of clothes and a towel. Other items that will be helpful are a water bottle, sunscreen, and sunglasses as this is a full and fun day!
Book now by clicking below!
Boat tour with pickup at Waikiki area hotels. Watching dolphins aboard the boat while learning more about the majestic creatures while viewing them in their natural habitat. Snorkel or partake in other water activities such as stand up paddle boarding or kayaking.
This half day tour will allow transit back to your hotel and give you additional time in the day to enjoy the beach, shop or relax next to the pool. This is the perfect activity for anyone ages 2 years old and up!
While this tour doesn’t have a pickup and drop off option, it’s still worth noting. The tour meeting location is just on the other side of Ala Moana Regional Park. You can easily navigate there on public transportation or take a taxi or Uber to the meeting point.
After a scenic drive along the coast and if you’re lucky you may spot Hawaiian spinner dolphins en route to your snorkeling destination. The highlight of the day on the sparkling Pacific Ocean, you’ll spend the day snorkeling with turtles and fish as well as exploring the beautiful marine life underwater.
All you need to do is show up on time with swimwear and a towel! Snacks and nonalcoholic refreshments are provided.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, parasailing would be for you! Parasail 500 feet up above the Oahu coastline. Choose to go up with a friend, family member or significant other. You can also choose to have them dip you down into the waters below before bringing you back up into the air.
This activity starts and ends just west of Ala Moana Regional Park near the Waikiki Beach area. You can Uber or take transit to get there.
Maybe you’re looking for that Instagram perfect photo to post from your recent Hawaiian vacation or you want a perfect photo to turn into a print or canvas to display proudly on your gallery wall. Whatever your motivation for wanting to learn how to capture the perfect photo, Hawaii is the perfect place to perfect that art with so much natural beauty!
As a part of this tour, you’ll be picked up and dropped off from your Waikiki area hotel and brought around Oahu to great picture locations. Learn from a professional how to take better photos and get some perfect snaps to do whatever you’d like with them.
If you’re a major history buff, this Deluxe Pearl Harbor tour is for you! Not only will you visit the USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Memorial, but have time to view the battleships and have additional aviation experiences.
Other than time spent at Pearl Harbor, you’ll explore downtown Honolulu making time for the Punchbowl National Cemetery, the historic Iolani Palace, and King Kamehameha statue.
Book your Historic Hawaiian tour today!
**Be sure to also check out my 10 Essential Tips for Visiting Pearl Harbor
Transportation from Waikiki hotels included to have an amazing time learning one of many local Hawaiian’s favorite pastime. The location is also near public transport, just be sure to arrive at least 20 mins prior to the start time. You’ll learn from a local professional instructor among calm waves with a long stable surfboard.
All equipment use is included. With optional fees for the use of a locker or rash guard.
Although this is a group surfing lesson, you’ll get plenty of 1:1 time with the instructors. There is a 4:1 ratio of surfers to instructors so you’ll still get the attention you desire with a little less pressure to perform vs. a one on one session!
You’ll start with a 20-30 minute session on dry land and graduate to 70 minutes practicing in the water.
The location is near the Hilton Hawaiian Villiage Waikiki Beach Resort so it’s walking distance from most Waikiki area hotels. However, you could choose to hop on public transport to get here as well.
This session includes the instruction, use of a surfboard, leash, rash guard, and a wet suit if you’d like.
What are you waiting for? Learning to surf is on your Hawaiian bucket list!
Where this tour leaves from is near public transportation so if you’re in Honolulu without a car, it’s not an issue!
If you’re not into snorkeling or scuba and want more of an experience to stay dry but admire marine life, this submarine ride is a must do to add to your Oahu list! Submerge over 100 feet below the waters surface to view the ocean floor, turtles, and various other marine life in their natural habitat.
The start and end of this tour is near public transportation so it makes being in Oahu without a car not a problem!
As a beginner to scuba diving, the staff will review all of the equipment and testing to ensure you’re comfortable and ready to dive. The area you’ll dive in is calm waters and in no time you’ll be thinking about becoming scuba certified to have more unbelievable adventures like this!
After you’ve explored Oahu on a day tour around the island, viewing it from above is the next best thing! You will be rewarded with an aerial view of the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor, the North Shore of Oahu, Diamond Head Crater, and Hanauma Bay from above.
This tour departs and returns near the International Airport. The tour company does not offer transfers for this activity, but you can book a shuttle or Uber to and from the activity.
Manoa Falls is a closer in proximity hike to the Honolulu and Waikiki area. However, this tour will take you there and back, you’ll hike the 1.7 mile out and back trail to the stunning 150 ft Manoa falls within the Manoa Valley Rainforest.
You’ll then enjoy some lunch post hike and return back to your hotel afterward this half day activity.
This is a great option to get in some hiking in without dealing with car rentals in Honolulu!
The meeting point for this Waikiki walking tour is on the edge of all the action in the Waikiki Beach area. You’ll walk with the group to different bars. Along the way, you’ll learn much more about Hawaii than you were taught in Social Studies class.
Ticket options to purchase drinks included in your ticket or as you go on your own the day of the tour. Be sure to bring your ID for age verification as you are required to be 21 years of age to drink in Hawaii!
Visit 3 Honolulu breweries and sample some delicious brews! All while walking through the arts district admiring local street art and murals.
You’ll initially meet at Waikiki Brewery in Kaka’ako. (831 Queen St, Honolulu, HI 96813). Which is relatively close to the Waikiki area and easily accessible via public transportation and a short walk. Then once you meet up with the group you’ll visit the other breweries, and sample a flight of beer at each brewery along with some snacks.
Additional Thoughts: Do you need a car for vacation in Honolulu?
You can definitely do a lot during your vacation in Oahu without having to rent a car. The hop on and hop off trolley are very convenient for getting around the Honolulu area and there are abundant tours that I’ve highlighted above that are either near public transportation or include a transfer and round trip drop off.
So, it’s not a cut and dry decision that you have to have a rental car to enjoy Oahu and Honolulu. I hope this helps with your planning and you were able to decide on some great activities even though you won’t have a car at your disposal.
Below I highlight convenient trolley passes you can purchase as well as airport transfers so you’re prepped and ready to enjoy your Hawaiian vacation on Oahu without a car!
A great happy medium for not having a car, is planning where you want to go and buying a hop on hop off trolley pass. There are several options available from one day passes, 4 day passes, or 7 day passes.
The one day passes provide more flexibility as you can purchase for just one line if you have specific points of interest that you want to use in one specific area. But if you’re traveling to Oahu for 4 days, the 4 day pass would be the perfect addition instead of renting a car in Hawaii.
Buy your pass by clicking the button below!
Book a one way transfer for arrival and departure to Honolulu/Oahu! This is way more cost effective than waiting until the day of to get a taxi or Uber. You’ll be met at baggage claim and dropped off right at the curb in style to (sadly) head back to the mainland.
You can book this for both ways to the airport so you know your transportation is secured and confirmed so you can continue to enjoy your Hawaiian vacation.
Click below to book today!
Conclusion: Do you need a car for vacation in Honolulu?
No! You do not need a car for vacation in Honolulu or Oahu. While on Oahu, you can get around well and still explore other parts of the island and do many fun activities across the island (not just limited to Honolulu) without a car. You can leverage the public transportation system, take an Uber, and book tours with transfers so you don’t have to mess with driving and finding free parking while on vacation.
But, should you rent a car in Hawaii? If you are prepared with the extra cost, dealing with parking and parking fees you definitely can. But I wouldn’t recommend it if you want a relaxing Hawaii vacation.
A great option above is the hop on hop off trolley to get around the Oahu and Honolulu area with ease without having to deal with rental cars and difficult parking!
If you want to read more about Oahu and the best things to do, here’s my 4 days in Oahu travel guide. I hope this has helped you to plan not only your activities but also reassure you that having a car in Honolulu isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! Aloha!