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Should I rent a car in Kauai?

The Ride at Hanalei Lookout
Enjoy the ride. Lookout over Hanalei Bay

Yes, but I have some helpful tips (PLAN AHEAD) for you if you are planning to visit the Garden Isle of Kauai. Kauai, known as the Garden Isle, has gorgeous views just about anywhere you go on the island. Renting a car can be a major expense but not having a car here on Kauai really hamstrings you before you’ve ever gotten here. 

If you are staying at the resorts in Poipu you do have a lot of things to do within walking distance. Poipu seems to host some of the more athletic types who like nothing better than rolling out of bed and jogging along our world-class beaches on the South Shore. Not me, but driving around sunny Poipu you will see lots of people jogging and exercising not to mention snorkeling and surfing. But there is so much more to Kauai than the South Shore and if you don’t have a car you will have to rely on public transportation, there is a new local private shuttle in Poipu, but you won’t be able to visit the Waimea Canyon(Weye-may-a) or the rest of the island with ease.  

Staying in Princeville is similar to Poipu in that Princeville is largely a mix of some private homes, resorts, and timeshare/condo hotels. Princeville sits on a large bluff so you do not have direct access to the beaches. Princeville does have a beautiful golf course with some of the most stunning views of the North Shore mountains. Poipu has golfing as well but golfing seems to be the dominant exercise of choice. There was a county shuttle but when it is going to return is anybody’s bet plus the Hanalei Landslide has drastically curtailed access to Hanalei, much to the despair of the local merchants. Access is only one highway and then they have only one lane open at certain times during the day, causing big backups.   

You should book your rental car as far ahead as you can to avoid paying peak season prices or be at the mercy of the going rate and you want to be assured of having a car! 

You might want to check with your hotel to see if they have rentals available at the Hotel. This is a relatively new service in Kauai which means you avoid a taxi back to the airport area where most rental car companies are located. It is very convenient to get your car at the hotel then you don’t waste the valuable time of your vacation just getting the car, not to mention a taxi fare as well. 

When I am doing my exclusive private sightseeing tours there are many jeeps on the road. I always have to chuckle because the Jeeps are a premium but there is very little off-roading you will ever do or get close to on Kauai. 80% of the island is inaccessible and if there are no roads it is probably private property or state parks. If you are budget-minded skip the faux jungle adventure and get a small car with good air conditioning and have a great dinner somewhere instead. Or book one of my tours, what am I saying? 

Now, I have the best tip about rental cars and my pitch. Book one of my tours on your first two days (second day is half price!) and then get a car after the tour or the next day. If you are with me, I pick you up in the morning at your hotel or accommodation and return you, and then you have half a day to laze around the pool. I’ll pick you up the next day and see the other side of the island. When I know, you are going to rent a car, I can point you to places and roads and beaches you may or may not find on your own or, gasp, might not be on Google Maps! Or if you are not staying at a hotel, we can end your tour AT the rental car depot. This way you can take advantage of my orientation tour, enjoy the sites and relax and leave the driving to me. Plan aheadplan ahead and book one of my tours and rent your car.

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The Ride at Hanalei Lookout
Smiling honeymooners in front of Hotel at night front of hotel
What you must explore on a Kauai Honeymoon or Anniversary trip? Previous Article