Hawaii Public Transport
Oahu has fantastic public transport, literally called The Bus (shown below). It is a very reliable bus system with convenient stops at visitor centers, near beaches, hotels, and shopping centers. Schedules and tickets can be purchased online or at any ABC store (and there are many ABC stores). You can buy as you go or purchase 4-day passes at reduced rates.
Taxi service is easy to find throughout the airport, Waikiki, and downtown Honolulu. Fares are metered and regulated in Oahu. Rates can vary, but expect to pay between $25 and $40 from the airport to your Waikiki hotel. Fares run $3.20 to $3.50 per mile plus a meter drop.
The Big Island offers limited bus service for free though the Hele-On bus. However, the Hele-On bus schedule and routes were created to serve the interests of commuters, not tourists. The major routes serve Hilo, Waimea, Pahoa, and Kohala. Many of Hawaii's best attractions can only be reached via rental car or tour service.
Due to the larger size of Hawaii, a taxi ride can be prohibitively expensive. The seven mile trip from the Kona airport to the town of Kona will rack up a bill of around $30. Take a hotel shuttle or rent a car at the airport.
Maui provides a very basic bus service with routes sprinkled from the airport to the west shore. There are also a handful of tourist trolleys that connect hotels to shopping centers and the occasional town.
Taxis are fairly expensive on Maui, about $3.00 per mile and some companies add fees like a meter drop and baggage handling charges. Using taxis for short distances, especially throughout West Maui is worthwhile, but it is recommended to rent a car to truly explore the island and use hotel shuttles to and from the airport.
Kauai offers the
Taxi service must be reserved in advance as there is no hailing of cabs in Kauai. Rates are state regulated with a $3.00 meter drop plus $3.00 per mile. Even on this tiny island taxi fees can rack up to $50 from the airport to Poipu and over $100 from the airport to Hanalei. With those rates, a car rental fee doesn't sound so bad.
Molokai & Lanai
There is no public transportation to speak of on either Lanai or Molokai. Renting a car or riding a bike is really the only way to see either island. Hotels often provide free or discounted transport to and from the airport. Confirm this option with your hotel prior to booking.
There is limited ferry service between the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai. The Maui-Lanai ferry departs from Lahaina's waterfront five times daily to Manele, Lanai for about $30 each way.
The Maui-Molokai ferry departs twice daily from Lahaina, Maui and lands at Kaunakakai Harbor, Molokai with rates around $50 each way.
Please note that both ferries are for foot traffic only and cannot accommodate a car.
The Super Ferry was shut down as of March 2009. It is unsure as to when or if it will resume operations. The massive controversy was surrounding the unknown environmental impact on the coral reefs and sea life. Currently, there is no island-wide ferry service nor is there a ferry that will accommodate a vehicle.
Inter-island travel can be accomplished by private boat charter or an inter-island airline.