Aloha! Are you planning a vacation to Hawaii and considering renting a car? With so many options available, it can be overwhelming.
But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with all the information you need to know about renting a car in Hawaii for your upcoming trip.
From what types of cars are available, how much they cost, what documents are needed to rent, and more; we will provide an overview of everything related to renting a car in Hawaii. So if you want to make sure that your Hawaiian getaway goes as smoothly as possible, keep reading!
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you decide to make a purchase I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Looking into a Hawaii Car Rental?
You’ve come to the right place since I’ve traveled full-time for the last 4 years (renting a lot of cars) and have spent a good chunk of that time exploring the islands of Hawaii.
I am going to walk you through the process of renting a car in Hawaii so that you can make sure to start your vacation off on the right foot.
By the end of this article, you are going to feel confident about the entire Hawaii car rental procedure. You’re also going to learn about common Hawaii car rental scams and how to avoid them.
There’s even some info about car rental insurance in Hawaii including what type of insurance you need and how to get the best coverage for the best price.
Ready to learn all of the ins and outs of renting a car in Hawaii? Let’s go!
Renting a Car in Hawaii FAQ
First up, let’s cover the most frequently asked questions.
Do I Need to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
The answer to this is probably. Unless you’re planning to hang out at the resort for the duration of your trip or just want to live it up in the Waikiki area then you will want to rent a car in Hawaii.
The islands are bigger than they appear on the globe and there is a lot of country to cover. For example, to get from Honolulu to the north shore area on Oahu is about an hour’s drive.
That’s a pretty expensive Uber ride! Not to mention you have to cross your fingers and your toes in hopes that you’ll be able to get a lift back to town.
Also, if you like to get off the beaten tourist path and do some hiking or other adventures that will be difficult to do without your own set of wheels.
So to be able to really maximize your time experiencing these beautiful islands you are going to want to rent a car, at least for part of your trip.
What’s the Best Discount Car Rental Company in Hawaii?
In our experience, the best places to rent a car in Hawaii are Discover Cars and Discount Hawaii Car Rental. Both of these companies pull together and compare the local and national companies to ensure that you see the largest selection and the best rates available.
Remember to always check the ratings and reviews and never go with a low-rated car rental company.
How Much Does Renting a Car in Hawaii Cost?
Hawaii car rental prices can vary greatly based on supply and demand, the type of car you’re renting, and which island it is located on.
I have seen prices from $35 usd to over $600 usd a day during the pandemic. One thing for sure is that you can expect to pay more in Hawaii for a car rental than you will in most mainland locations. Welcome to Hawaii haha!
Can I Rent a Car in Hawaii?
If you can check off the 3 boxes below then you will have no problem renting a car in the Hawaiian islands.
1- Driver’s License
You need a current valid driver’s license from the US, or Canada or an international driver’s license and passport from one of the countries that ratified the Geneva Convention of Road Traffic (1949) to rent a car and drive in Hawaii.
2- Hawaii Car Rental Age
How old do you need to be to rent a car in Hawaii? You need to be between the ages of 18 and 70. However, if you are under 24 or over 70 you may have to pay a driver surcharge which typically run about $8 usd per day.
3- Credit Card or Cash Deposit
You will need a valid credit card with at least $350 of credit available or cash for the deposit to rent a car in Hawaii. Debit cards may work but most rental agencies are moving away from them. Also, with debit cards, they will remove the money from your account for the deposit and credit it back upon return versus with a credit card which just places a hold on the deposit amount.
What Kind of Car is the Best to Rent in Hawaii?
The best type of car, in general, to rent in Hawaii is a mid-sized SUV or truck. You’ll need extra space for luggage and/or beach gear. Not to mention that the off-road capabilities may come in handy in the rugged island terrain.
If you are traveling solo or just two of you then a mid-size car will work as long as you plan to stay on well-paved roads. Of course, if you are traveling with a family or more than 4 people then you may want to consider a large SUV or minivan.
What Are the Top Car Rental Companies in Hawaii?
All of the well-known US national car rental brands like Alamo, Enterprise, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, and Avis operate in Hawaii. The top rental car companies in Hawaii and the two that we use are DiscoverCars.com and Discount Hawaii Car Rental.
What’s the Easiest Way to Book a Rental Car in Hawaii?
Using the local company Discount Hawaii Car Rental is the easiest way to book a car rental in Hawaii because they have agreements in place to show the best pricing among all of the major car rental companies. The booking process is super simple and the customer service is top-notch!
What Insurance Do I Need to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
Car rental insurance is not mandatory in Hawaii. The companies cannot require you to purchase their insurance policies. They do include the minimum state-required liability insurance as part of the basic rental car agreement.
However, liability insurance policies are limited and only cover the other party’s injuries and/or property damage. It will not cover you or the vehicle you rented.
For this reason, you will want to make sure that you have adequate collision coverage on your car rental. Often if you already have an active auto insurance policy for your own personal car they will cover any car that you drive. But, make sure to double-check coverage with your insurance company.
What if I Have Car Insurance through my Credit Card?
Many travel reward credit cards offer Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance coverage on rental cars when you use the card for the transaction. This coverage is a great way to supplement any existing car insurance policies that you have or even get you some collision coverage if you don’t have an auto policy.
Always make sure to read through their terms and conditions for the rental car insurance benefits before renting your vehicle.
*Bonus Tip: For your own auto policy or credit card coverage to be used make sure to decline all insurance options offered by the rental car company. That may invalidate and/or supersede any other coverage plans that you have which may be preferred.
What is a Deductible with Car Insurance?
If you don’t already know. A deductible is the amount of money you will have to pay out of pocket before your insurance company starts covering the cost of an accident or theft.
In most cases, a higher deductible means lower premiums and vice versa. So if you are willing to take on more financial risk then it could be beneficial to opt for a higher deductible which would reduce your monthly premiums.
Keep in mind though that if you do get into an accident or your car is stolen then you are liable for the deductible amount. So, make sure to choose a deductible amount that won’t break your bank if the worst happens.
Renting a Car in Hawaii: An Island-by-Island Guide
There are a few nuances between islands when renting a car in Hawaii. Here’s what you should know.
Car Rental: Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu is the most populous island in Hawaii and is also home to the largest international airport in the state. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (code HNL) is located in Honolulu and offers a wide variety of rental car company options.
There are six national rental car companies on-site at the airport at HNL. They are Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Sixt Rent a Car. The others are off-site with regular shuttles running to transport you to the facilities.
Should I Rent a Car on Oahu?
Yes! Unless you plan on staying in downtown Waikiki or at a resort you will want to have the ability to travel around the island. Oahu has a great public transportation system but it is limited and requires planning to make sure you get to your destination in time.
Plus, having a rental car allows you the freedom to explore the Windward Coast and North Shore without worrying about catching the bus or having to find an Uber in these more remote locations.
Also, a car is necessary if you’re interested in doing any hiking. Check out some of these easy family friendly hikes on Oahu.
Oh, and without a car you might miss out on those amazing Oahu sunsets!
What Kind of Car Should I Rent on Oahu?
The island of Oahu is relatively large and the best attractions are spread out away from the main city of Honolulu. For this reason, a mid-size car or compact SUV is ideal for navigating the winding roads of the North Shore and Eastern side of the island.
Plus, with more open land around the outskirts of Oahu, you don’t need to worry about fitting into tight spaces as you do in Waikiki. So a larger vehicle even a van may be more comfortable and offer more storage capacity.
Car Rental: Maui, Hawaii
Renting a car on Maui is a great way to explore the beautiful and diverse landscape of the island. From stunning beaches to majestic waterfalls, renting a car provides you with the freedom to explore all that Maui has to offer.
The Kahului Airport (code OGG) offers seven national rental car companies on-site: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Sixt, and Thrifty Rent a Car.
They are located in a facility across from the terminal. Exit the baggage claim and cross the street then look for signs for the free tram to car rental.
Should I Rent a Car on Maui?
Yes! Maui’s attractions are quite spread out. Having a rental car allows you to explore all that Maui has to offer, such as the famous Road to Hana and Haleakala National Park both of which are featured in the 4 day Maui itinerary.
What Kind of Car Should I Rent on Maui?
When renting a car in Maui anything will do but if you have a choice then you should opt for one that can handle rough terrain and winding roads especially is you’re planning to drive the Reverse Road to Hana. An SUV or 4×4 is ideal for traversing the bumpy and hilly roads throughout the island.
Another added advantage of having a 4×4 is that you can access more locations, such as off-road trails and rugged beaches. In addition, be sure to check if your rental car company offers additional coverage plans that may be preferred for your Maui car rental.
Car Rental: Kauai, Hawaii
Renting a car on Kauai is the best way to explore all that the Garden Isle has to offer. From breathtaking waterfalls to hidden beaches and canyons, renting a car will provide you with the freedom to explore Kauai’s beauty at your own pace.
The Lihue Airport (code LIH) offers seven national rental car companies on-site: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Enterprise, Hertz, National Sixt, and Thrifty Rent a Car.
Should I Rent a Car on Kauai?
Yes! The island of Kauai is home to some of the most stunning views in Hawaii and having a rental car allows you to explore all these amazing sites. With a rental car, you can drive to some of the most remote and secluded locations on Kauai that are not easily accessible via public transportation.
What Kind of Car Should I Rent on Kauai?
When renting a car in Kauai you should opt for one with four-wheel drive capabilities as many attractions require driving over rough terrain. An SUV or 4×4 is ideal for traversing the bumpy, hilly, and often wet roads throughout the island.
If you plan to visit Kauai’s famous Na Pali Coast, a 4×4 is essential as most of these roads are unpaved and often require tackling steep grades and traveling across uneven surfaces.
Car Rental: Big Island, Hawaii
Renting a car on the Big Island of Hawaii is a must and the best way to explore the diverse and dramatic landscape. From breathtaking beaches to majestic volcanoes, renting a car provides you with the freedom to explore all that The Big Island has to offer.
The Hilo Airport (code ITO) offers nine national rental car companies on-site: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty Rent a Car. The rental car counters are on the ground level across from the terminal.
Should I Rent a Car on The Big Island?
Yes! The Big Island is called that for a reason-it’s big! All of the attractions are spread throughout the island and really the only way to get to them is by car. Furthermore, having a rental car allows you to explore all the different climates and terrains on your timetable.
What Kind of Car Should I Rent on The Big Island?
When renting a car on The Big Island you should opt for something roomy and preferably with four-wheel or all-wheel drive capabilities. Many attractions require driving over rough terrain or off-road trails. An SUV or 4×4 is ideal for traversing the bumpy and hilly roads throughout the Big Island.
Car Rental: Molokai, Hawaii
If you’re looking to rent a car on Molokai, the Kalaupapa Airport (code MKK) offers passenger service and two rental car companies on-site: Avis and Budget. The rental car counters are located across from the terminal.
Should I Rent a Car on Molokai?
Yes! Having a rental car is great for getting around Molokai, as this island is much more rural than the other Hawaiian Islands and public transportation is limited. A rental car allows you to explore Molokai’s pristine beaches, wildlife reserves, and stunning views at your own pace.
What Kind of Car Should I Rent on Molokai?
When renting a car on Molokai you should opt for one with four-wheel or all-wheel drive capabilities as many attractions require driving over rough terrain.
Don’t forget that your rental car company also offers additional coverage plans that may be necessary for your Molokai car rental-especially if you plan to go off-road.
Renting a Car in Hawaii Tips
1. Be aware of and be courteous to pedestrians.
There is a lot of foot traffic happening in Hawaii, especially since some of main the roads run right along the beaches and shoreline. Drive slowly and spread aloha by yielding to people who are crossing the street.
2. Gas is expensive in Hawaii.
Just like everything else gas is pricey. Fortunately, all three of the main islands have at least 1 Costco which offers huge savings on gas. Make sure to top up if you see one!
3. Everything operates on island time.
Be patient and respectful while on the islands. The lines to get gas can sometimes get quite long especially at Costco so just budget some extra time and set your watch to island time.
4. Don’t park illegally or block someone’s driveway.
Parking spots can be tricky to find sometimes, especially around residential neighborhoods. Be careful not to block anyone’s access to their home or business and respect the “No Parking” signage.
5. Lock your car and secure your valuables.
Hawaii is a safe vacation destination however petty theft is a problem. Make sure to lock your car doors and conceal all valuables.
Final Thoughts: Renting a Car in Hawaii
Renting a car in Hawaii is an excellent way to explore the islands and their diverse landscapes. Whether you’re on The Big Island, Molokai, Maui or Oahu, it’s important to remember that traffic laws are strictly enforced and everything operates on “island time”. Be sure to choose the right vehicle for your travels, watch out for pedestrians, fill up with gas at Costco when possible and always lock your car doors. With these tips in mind, renting a car can be a great way to discover all that Hawaii has to offer. Book your rental car for Hawaii today!