Getting round in Kauaʻi – Lonely Planet

There are solely two fundamental roadways on Kauaʻi – Kūhiō Freeway (Route 56) and Kaumualiʻi Freeway (Route 50) – and the island is 25 miles lengthy and 33 miles extensive. This implies getting across the Backyard Island isn’t very troublesome – you probably have a automobile.

There’s a public bus system on Kauaʻi and a few inns run shuttle providers, however routes are restricted. Taxis and rideshare choices like Uber and Lyft will be costly and troublesome to search out. You’ll desire a automobile to discover the greatest experiences the island has to supply.

If you happen to don’t wish to hire a automobile – or desire a greener strategy to get round – there are bike and motorcycle rental firms. You may as well stroll sure neighborhoods, too.

Eucalyptus tree tunnel near Koloa Town on Kauai, Hawaii
A journey by way of Kauaʻi will be taken by way of numerous modes of transportation  © MNStudio / Shutterstock

To discover essentially the most of Kauaʻi, hire a automobile

It takes about two hours to drive from Polihale State Park on Kauaʻi’s west aspect to Hanalei Bay on the north shore – a route that almost circles the island. And there’s lots to discover between the 2 seashores, from the majestic Waimea Canyon to the sunny seashores of Poʻipu to the beachy city of Hanalei. 

As a result of there are solely two fundamental roads that encircle the island – and others that lower inland to cities like Koloa and Kokeʻe State Park – navigating round Kauaʻi isn’t that tough. Many of the locations you’ll wish to go to, from fashionable eating places to seashores, can be alongside the 2 main highways.

Rental vehicles have been arduous to return by all through the state, as automobile rental firms offered their vehicles in 2020 in anticipation of the monetary blow they might face attributable to widespread COVID-19 journey restrictions. Tourism returned to the Islands in 2021 with pre-pandemic numbers of tourists – and fewer vehicles accessible. Individuals have been shelling out hundreds of {dollars} to hire vehicles, some even renting U-Hauls. Kauaʻi was no exception.

Whereas it’s not as loopy because it was a yr in the past, you’ll nonetheless wish to e-book your automobile upfront to make sure you’ll have a strategy to get round when you land, particularly if you happen to’re visiting throughout peak intervals. All main car-rental companies are on Kauaʻi, with heaps conveniently positioned close to Līhuʻe Airport. Avis rents vehicles from the Grand Hyatt Kauaʻi and Princeville Airport, too. Personal automobile rental choices are additionally accessible by way of Turo and Outdoorsy, however you’re not allowed to sleep in trailers, RVs or camper vans at county or state parks, and also you’ll want a allow to camp. Zipcar is just not accessible on Kauaʻi. 

Whereas driving round Kauaʻi, maintain up-to-date with highway work and land closures – these could impression your itinerary. Go to the state Division of Transportation’s web site to get every day updates for Kauaʻi. (Final yr Kūhiō Freeway to Hanalei was closed in each instructions at numerous occasions in the course of the day and evening, as employees wanted to repair the highway after a significant landslide. If you happen to missed the window of time when the highway was open, you wouldn’t be capable to get in or out of Hanalei.)

As wherever in Hawaii, drive with aloha. Drive slowly, yield to others and don’t tailgate. (Locals aren’t receptive to blaring automobile horns, both.) At one-lane bridges – just like the one in Hanalei – it’s essential to yield to oncoming visitors. Simply calm down and benefit from the drive. You’re on trip!

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Sure, there’s a bus system on Kauaʻi – however don’t get too enthusiastic about it

In contrast to Oʻahu, which boasts an intensive public bus system the place you virtually don’t must hire a automobile, Kauaʻi’s bus choice is proscribed in occasions and routes. The town-run Kauaʻi Bus gives service from Kekaha to Hanalei, and fares are $2 per journey. (It presents discounted fares for riders with disabilities, seniors over 65 and people between 7 and 18. Kids beneath 6 are free.) The routes are geared extra for residents than guests, so verify timetables on-line or name (808) 246-8110 to map out your go to. Observe that the bus can’t accommodate massive baggage or oversize luggage.

A trolley in Hawaii transports people
For shorter journeys round Kauaʻi, contemplate shuttles or trolleys, that are fast and sometimes reasonably priced © Osugi / Shutterstock

Take a shuttle for brief journeys

There are a handful of personal shuttle firms – Roberts Hawaii Airport Shuttle, Kauai Island Shuttle, SpeediShuttle – that present transportation from Lihuʻe Airport. Some inns additionally present shuttle choices for his or her friends to and from the airport. However Kauaʻi additionally has native space shuttles that could possibly be a very good choice if you happen to’re in search of a fast and reasonably priced (usually free!) strategy to get someplace close by.

The Aloha Spirit Kauaʻi Shuttle presents free service to eating places, procuring areas or the seashore within the Poʻipu space. (You may as well e-book personal charters, too.) The free shuttle rides run from 6 to 10 p.m. every day. And the North Shore Shuttle gives transportation to Haʻena State Park, which incorporates Keʻe Seaside and the well-known Kalalau Path. The shuttle departs the Waipā Park & Journey (the place you possibly can depart your rental automobile) each half-hour between 6:30 and 11:30am every day, with return service from Haʻena State Park between 7am and midday and a couple of to five:30pm. Price is $35 per grownup ($25 per youngster) and contains entry charge into the state park.

Rainbow forms near the base of Wailua Waterfall.
Some taxi firms supply thrilling sightseeing excursions, together with visits to Wailua Falls © Michael Warwick / Shutterstock

Rideshares and taxis are nice for fast rides

You could find Lyft, Uber and a domestically run rideshare choice known as Holoholo on Kauaʻi. Wait occasions could also be a bit of longer than in Honolulu, the place there are extra drivers, and rides will be dearer than the every day value of a automobile rental. (A trip from Lihuʻe Airport to Poʻipu Seaside Park on Holoholo, for instance, begins at $60. You may hire a automobile for about $80 a day.) However if you happen to want a fast trip someplace, it is a nice choice. 

There are a number of taxi firms, too, a few of which supply constitution providers. You could find most of them on the aiport and a few drivers solely settle for money (not bank cards). Kauaʻi Taxi Co. presents three sightseeing excursions, even one to see ʻOpaekaʻa and Wailua Falls, and 635-TAXI has seashore and journey excursions. You may as well e-book taxi drivers for the whole day if you need a private tour of the island.

Two wheels will be higher than 4

If you happen to favor to expertise Kauaʻi on two wheels, you possibly can hire a motorbike from a number of outlets, which ship to particular areas on the island. Eco e-Bikes Kauaʻi rents pedal-assisted bikes full with gear ($24 an hour, $79 for twenty-four hours, $279 for six days) and delivers them freed from cost from Poʻipu to Kapaʻa. The Bike Doktor has a collection of bikes – from single-speed cruisers to road-hybrid bikes – with drop-off and pick-up service for weekly leases from Princeville to Haʻena. 

An excellent place to bike is the Ke Ala Hele Makalae (Hawaiian for “The Path that Goes by Coast”), a paved path that runs 8 miles (in two segments) in Kapaʻa. The trail runs alongside the shoreline from Lydgate Seaside Park to secluded Kuna Bay (aka Donkey Seaside). You may hire a motorbike proper in Kapaʻa city – Hele On Kauaʻi has cruisers, mountain bikes, hybrids and even tandem bikes – and luxuriate in this attractive stretch of Kauaʻi. (You would possibly be capable to see migrating humpback whales within the winter months.) 

Want extra pace? There are a number of outlets that hire mopeds, bikes and scooters. Kauaʻi Mopeds in Lihuʻe presents all three with free supply islandwide. Price ranges from $110 a day for a 49cc moped to $300 a day for a Suzuki DR 650 Twin Sport Motorbike. Because of COVID-19 and the state’s emergency guidelines, the corporate doesn’t present using classes. All renters should know the best way to function a motorized two-wheeled car. Motorbike riders should have legitimate motorbike licenses.

A couple walking along a paved pathway surrounded by lush trees, with mountains in the background
Many locations in Kauaʻi, akin to Hanalei Bay, are excellent for a stroll © Maridav / Shutterstock

Hit the pavement 

Generally the easiest way to expertise a spot is by strolling. Kauaʻi options numerous charming neighborhoods nice for wandering. The half-mile stretch of highway in Previous Koloa City is a walkable procuring and meals space, with meals vans, boutiques, espresso outlets and two supermarkets. Seize an all-natural shave ice from The Contemporary Shave or a burger utilizing 100% Kauaʻi-grown beef from Kenji Burger. Or stroll alongside Rice Road and the encompassing space in Lihuʻe and go to eating places, outlets and different native companies. Seize a bowl of saimin from Hamura Saimin Stand, which was acknowledged by the distinguished James Beard Basis as one among America’s Classics in 2006, or pop in Kauaʻi Beer Co. for a pint of domestically crafted beer.

Hanapepe City looks as if it was constructed for strolling – the quarter-mile part of Hanapepe Street is dotted with artwork galleries, boutiques and cafes. Get a macadamia nut cinnamon roll or sizzling panini sandwich from Midnight Bear Bakery or browse the charming indie Speak Story Bookstore  on this little city, which was the backdrop for Disney’s Lilo & Sew. If you happen to love Niʻihau shell jewellery – dear however actually an artform – go to J.J. ʻOhana.

Test the native steerage

The County of Kauaʻi’s Workplace of Financial Improvement collaborated with the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority on web site centered on transportation choices on the island. Get Round Kauaʻi  has info on numerous methods to get round, from renting vehicles to ridesharing to strolling guides. The location encourages the usage of low-impact, inexperienced choices which are higher for the setting and scale back visitors for residents.

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