Almost everyone who comes to Hawaii rents a car. It's the easiest way to get around the islands, especially if you're staying anywhere but Waikiki. All the big companies - Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty - rent cars on all the major Hawaiian Islands.
You Probably Don't Need That Extra Insurance
The cost of renting a car in Hawaii is pretty reasonable compared to most vacation areas in rest of the United States.
And, if you own a car chances are pretty good that your own automobile insurance will cover your rental car in Hawaii. Check with your auto insurance company. For example, why pay $15 a day for 14 days for a collision deductible waiver when your own policy only has a $500 deductible?
Be sure to bring your insurance ID card if you decline the rental car company's optional insurance.
Many credit card companies also provide insurance for car rentals while on vacation. Take a few minutes and check with your credit card company to find out their policy.
Join a Frequent Renter Program and Save Time
If you don't belong to one of the main rental car company frequent rental programs, you may want to join one well in advance of your Hawaii trip.
For example, Budget's Fastbreak program with its RapidRez provision enables renters to keep their preferences on file which allows you to reserve a car online in a matter of seconds.
Then, when you get to Hawaii, you don't have to wait in line for a car like the dozens of others folks who arrive on the same flight. You go to a special agent and are usually in and out of the car rental location within 10 minutes.
Be sure to take a copy of the free local maps that each car rental company makes available to visitors.
The maps are excellent and will help you find your way around the islands.
Staying in Waikiki? You May Not Need a Car
If you're staying in Waikiki and plan to spend most of your time in Waikiki or downtown Honolulu, you may not need a rental car for your entire stay. Most places in Waikiki are within easy walking distance.
TheBus, O'ahu's public transportation system is great and cheap. It's no problem to catch a bus to downtown or to almost any other area of the island.
If you want to visit the North Shore or somewhere else on the island, there are numerous rental car agencies right in Waikiki where you can rent a car for a day or two.
A Word of Caution
Do not leave valuables in your car, including the trunk.
While violent crime is low in Hawaii, the theft rate is high. Parked cars are easy targets for thieves especially at beach parks and even such high traffic areas as the parking lot at the USS Arizona Memorial.
A Courtesy Tip
Use your horn only in an emergency.
Honking your horn for any other reason is considered the height of rudeness in Hawaii. It's a sure way to show folks that you're not from the islands.
Pedestrians have the right of way, so be patient and be polite.