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In The Unofficial Guide® to Hawaii you'll get the inside story on the islands' top attractions, such as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, and more, plus tips on travel packages, beaches, adventure outings, and golf. All the major hotels, resorts, and restaurants are rated and ranked for value and quality, and we've explored all the details of Hawaiian nightlife, from luaus to the legendary Don Ho.
The Top 5 Ways The Unofficial Guide® to Hawaii Can Help You Have the Perfect Trip:
About the Authors and Contributors.
Making the Most of Your Hawaiian Dream.
About This Guide.
Part One: Getting Acquainted with Hawaii.
About the Aloha State.
Choosing Your Island.
The Islands by Zone.
A Brief History.
Hawaii’s Diverse Population.
Local Customs and Protocol.
Part Two: Planning Your Visit to Hawaii.
Best Time to Go.
Gathering Information Before You Leave.
Getting to Hawaii.
So Many Islands, So Little Time.
Suggestions for Special Travelers.
Tying the Knot.
Part Three: Accommodations.
Where to Stay.
Getting a Good Deal on a Room.
Other Ways to Stay.
Hotels Rated and Ranked.
Part Four: Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii.
When You Arrive.
Things the Locals Already Know.
Part Five: Getting Around Hawaii.
Part Six: Excursions.
Adventures on Your Own.
Other Touring Suggestions.
Part Seven: Hawaii’s Attractions.
Part Eight: Great Outdoors.
Hawaii by Sea: Get Wet.
Hawaii’s Top Beaches.
Kayaking: Different Strokes.
Scuba: Dive, Dive, Dive.
Snorkeling: Exploring the Undersea World.
Surfing: Catch a Wave.
Windsurfing: Ride the Wind.
Charter Sportfishing: Reely Big Ones.
Hawaii by Land.
National and State Parks.
Camping in the Wilds.
Bicycling: Pedal Power.
Horseback Riding: Back in the Saddle.
Hawaii by Sky.
Spas: For Your Health.
Golf: Tee Time.
Part Nine: Dining in Hawaii.
Experiencing Hawaii’s Multicultural Cuisine.
Part Ten: Shopping.
Swap Meets and Flea Markets.
Part Eleven: Entertainment and Nightlife.
Before- and After-Dinner Lounges.
Dance Clubs and Nightspots.
List of Maps.
The Hawaiian Islands.
Zones 1–6: Oahu.
Zone 1: Waikiki.
Zone 2: Honolulu.
Zones 7–10: Maui.
Zone 7: Central Maui.
Zone 9: West Maui.
Zones 11 and 12: The Big Island.
Zone 13: Kauai.
Zone 14: Molokai.
Zone 15: Lanai.
It's easy to get around Hawaii when you know how.
Only Oahu is large and busy enough to pose a problem, and that's only during Honolulu's morning and evening commute hours, when traffic chokes freeways and city streets. Traffic in and out of Waikiki can get congested on weeknights and weekends. Hawaiian street names are difficult to read and recall, and gas is expensive. Fortunately Oahu is also the island with an outstanding municipal bus system. It's called TheBus.
You can ride TheBus, take shuttle vans, or hail a taxi to get almost anywhere you want to go. An open-air, motorized Waikiki Trolley tour stops at visitor attractions and shopping.
What you won't find in the islands are trains or subway systems.
Before choosing your primary mode of transportation, weigh the factors of convenience, flexibility, time, and cost. For example, catching a taxi from Waikiki to the Arizona Memorial may be the fastest and most convenient option, but it will also set you back about $25-$28. Catching TheBus is the cheapest way to go, but it will take longer and you won't have as much flexibility.
The only new highway, the Interstate H-3, links Pearl Harbor with Kaneohe Bay Marine Air Station on the Windward side of the island. This highway broke the bank (the most expensive in thenation at the time, topping $1 billion a mile) and triggered controversy because its route violated a sacred area and an ancient temple site. But the roadway today is underused and very scenic. It's worth a spin just for the views.
If you decide to explore Oahu by car, remember that Oahu reputedly has more cars per capita than any city in the United States. Avoid the freeways and major highways-H-1 in particular-during morning and evening weekday rush hours. It's worst on school days, particularly when classes start in August and September, and tends to jam up around downtown Honolulu at lunchtime. Road work is as big a cause of traffic backup as anything. The truth is that even Oahu's traffic looks tame next to many a big mainland city's problems. Drivers regularly exceed the posted speed limit here, but be aware that the Honolulu Police Department uses radar and cameras to nail offenders. Chief problem areas, says the HPD, are the H-1 Freeway, Pali Highway, and the Kalanianaole Highway, so be especially lawful on these roads.
Getting Around Neighbor Islands
You won't have to worry about major traffic jams on any of the Neighbor Islands, where the population is a small fraction of Oahu's. Barring accidents, traffic backups are nonexistent on Molokai and Lanai and the Big Island, the one island with well-designed roads, longer driving distances, and fewer cars. Maui and Kauai have developed their own commuter traffic, with the busiest times being 6:30-8:30 a.m. and 3:30-5:30 p.m. Road congestion intensifies on Maui and Kauai when jumbo jets and other planes land at once, and in Kapaa on Kauai during lunch hour.
Hawaii's road system is simple if somewhat arcane, with posted signs (white lettering against a dark green background) providing directions. Considering the number of vehicles, particularly on Oahu where the number of registered vehicles doubled in the past two decades, Hawaii's roadways and streets are in relatively good repair. You may hit rough spots along the H-1 (eastbound) near the Aiea exit and on Kamehameha Highway on Windward Oahu and the island's North Shore.
Here are some estimated drive times from popular resort areas to specific points of interest. The estimations are given for periods outside rush hour.
Finding a parking spot isn't a problem in most areas. Waikiki hotels and downtown Honolulu offices charge the highest parking rates in Hawaii. Your hotel will charge you a daily rate of at least $12 to park your car. Some Neighbor Islands resorts charge a daily fee if valets park your car long term, but they have free self-park lots as well.
Parking rates in private lots in Honolulu's main business district start at $3.25 per half hour, but banks, stores, restaurants, and most professional offices validate.
There are two city-operated affordable parking structures to keep in mind: the Alii Place lot at Alakea and Hotel Streets (enter off of Alakea) charges $1 per half hour for the first two hours and $2 per each following half hour. On weekends and evenings, the rate is only 50 cents per half hour, with a $3 maximum. The Chinatown Gateway Plaza lot at King and Bethel Streets (enter off of Bethel) also charges 50 cents per half hour for the first two hours and $1 per each additional half-hour.
In the downtown area near Iolani Palace, your best bet is finding a metered parking spot on the street, either Richards or Punchbowl Streets (the rate is $1 per hour, with a two-hour limit). There is no metered parking available on King Street.
You can also try to find a metered parking spot on Bethel, Merchant, and Nuuanu Streets in Chinatown. The best times to find an empty space are mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
If you're catching a show at the Hawaii Theatre downtown, we recommend parking at the Liberty House lot at King and Bethel (enter off Bethel Street). It's a flat rate of $4 any time after 4 p.m.
In Waikiki, the best option is to leave the car in your hotel parking garage and explore the area on foot. If you're driving into Waikiki, however, the best parking option is the multilevel IMAX garage located on Seaside Avenue (on the right immediately after turning left from Kalakaua Avenue). This parking garage is centrally located and has the most affordable rate (a flat fee of $6 for all-day parking). In the Honolulu Zoo and Kapiolani Park area, street parking becomes much easier to find. Metered stalls there cost only 50 cents per hour, with a four-hour limit at Kapiolani Park and a three-hour limit near the zoo.
On Neighbor Islands, finding an available parking space is most difficult in Maui's congested Lahaina. The best option is to park at the Lahaina Center (enter from either Papalaua or Wainee Street). If you purchase anything from a shop-even a single postcard-they'll validate your parking, up to four hours.
Currently, no parking meters exist on the Neighbor Islands except near a few public office buildings. Downtown Hilo had meters, but they recently discontinued them.
All parking lots are fairly well lit, almost always filled to near capacity with frequent turnover (particularly in Waikiki), and considered safe for your person if not your valuables. Do not leave valuables in your car, even in the trunk.
Using the Bus
TheBus is the inexpensive way to get from here to there on Oahu. It is safe, friendly, and efficient and has twice been recognized by the American Public Transit Association as the best in the nation. Each day, the fleet of buses collectively transports 260,000 passengers and travels 60,000 miles, equal to two and a half trips around the world.
The advantages of riding TheBus go beyond cost. This is an excellent opportunity to mingle with local residents too (chances are you'll want to ask their help in figuring out which stop you want). Strike up a conversation and, hopefully, enjoy a sampling of Hawaii's aloha spirit. Outside rush-hour traffic, the buses are usually uncrowded and the ride is pleasant. Tell the driver where you want to go, and he'll help make sure you get off at the right place.
The exact-change, one-way fare on TheBus is $2 for adults and $1 for students (ages six through high school); exact change, please, dollar bills accepted; child sitting on adult lap, free (max age 6). You can request a free transfer, which entitles you to board up to two other buses where routes intersect, at the time you pay your fare. Stopovers or picking up a bus again in a continuous direction is not permitted, and there is a time limit to the transfer. You can pay $1-$2 per person and ride around the whole circle-island route, which takes about four hours.
If you plan on using TheBus frequently during your stay, we recommend purchasing a $20 visitor pass, which allows you unlimited rides for four days, or a $40 monthly pass ($20 for students). These passes are available at all ABC stores in Waikiki.
For bus route information, call (808) 848-5555 between 5:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Be sure you have a pencil and paper handy, and be ready to provide the following information: your current location, your desired destination, and the time of day you need to arrive at that destination. TheBus also has an informative website, thebus.org, with a complete schedule you can download.
Also, you can get recorded route information from Waikiki to some of the most popular visitor attractions by calling (808) 296-1818, entering code number 8287, and then following the directions. If you want to take TheBus to the Polynesian Cultural Center, for example, select option 13 and listen to the recording, which will instruct you to board any Ewa-bound bus numbered 8, 19, 20, 47, or 58; ride to Ala Moana Shopping Center; then transfer to the #55 bus, which will take you to the cultural center. It's that simple.
For customer service information, call (808) 848-4500.
Riding the Waikiki Trolley
Take the Waikiki Trolley for a fun and pleasant way to get around Waikiki and Honolulu. You can choose the Red Line, Blue Line, or Yellow Line. You'll get a good look at Oahu as you go.
The trolley's Red Line covers all of Waikiki and Honolulu, stopping at the Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Bishop Museum, Chinatown, Aloha Tower, and Iolani Palace (26 stops in all).
The Blue Line traces Oahu's scenic southern coast, including stops at Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park (11 stops in all).
The Yellow Line takes passengers on a shopping and dining excursion, with dropoff/pickup points at Ala Moana Center, Ward Warehouse, Ward Centre, Duty Free Shoppers, and other locales (20 stops in all).
Four-day passes are available at the following rates: $25 per adult ($12 per child ages 4-11) for unlimited rides on either the Red and Yellow or Blue and Yellow routes, and $45 per adult ($18 per child) for unlimited rides on all three routes. For a one-day pass, the cost is $25 per adult ($18 per child) for either the Red and Yellow or Blue and Yellow routes, and $30 ($12 per child) for all three routes. Passes may be purchased at all major hotel tour desks or from service representatives at selected stops.
The Waikiki Trolley, operated by E Noa Tours, runs daily from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Red Line trolleys arrive/depart at appointed stops every 20 minutes; Blue Line trolleys every 60 minutes; and Yellow Line trolleys every 10 to 30 minutes. All routes originate from the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center depot in Waikiki on Royal Hawaiian Avenue.
E Noa Tours also operates several tours via trolleys and air-conditioned vans to popular visitor attractions, such as the Arizona Memorial. Call (800) 824-8804 for more information.
A taxi is probably the best way to travel through Honolulu when you don't know your way around. Taxis are not cheap, but they will save you time and frustration. If you are staying in Waikiki for, say, only three days and have no plans to leave the beach resort, your best bet may be to take a taxi.
A fare from the Honolulu International Airport to Waikiki will be from $25 to $35, depending on which end of Waikiki your hotel is located. Typically, meters begin at $2, with 25 cents added for each eighth of a mile. A few taxi companies provide sight-seeing excursions at a fixed rate. At the airport, curbside attendants assign taxis to riders on a first-come, first-served basis outside baggage claim.
Of the 30 taxi cab companies on Oahu, you may choose those with a flat rate, metered rate, or hire a limo for sight-seeing trips around the island.
If you need to call a cab, we recommend Charley's Taxi and Tours, one of the oldest, locally owned companies, (808) 531-1333.
Resort and Shopping Shuttles
Take a shuttle van, which is often free or inexpensive. Shuttles are airconditioned vans or buses that go to and from a specific destination. Many hotels and resorts operate shuttles of their own, while private operators, who pick up passengers by request or at multiple designated sites, tend to offer more elaborate routes. Ask your hotel concierge for any shuttles that serve your hotel. Some widely used shuttle services are the following.
A trolley service between Waikiki and the Aloha Tower Marketplace is available daily from 9:15 a.m. (departing the Hilton Hawaiian Village) to 9 p.m. (departing the Marketplace). Pickup/dropoff points in Waikiki include the Hilton, Outrigger Islander Hotel, the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Outrigger Prince Kuhio, Out-rigger West, Outrigger Waikiki Surf, and Waikiki Parkside. The one-way fare is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Call (808) 528-5700.
Free shuttles offer visitor transportation within the island's Wailea Resort, with stops at the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort, Grand Wailea Resort, Four Seasons Resort Wailea, Outrigger Wailea Resort, and the area's golf courses and (on request) tennis facilities. The shuttle operates daily from 6:30 a.m., with the final dropoff at 8:30 p.m. Call (808) 879-2828.
In Kaanapali, a shuttle transports guests between the Whalers Village Shopping Center and hotels within the resort area. The service is provided daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and costs $2 per person. Call (808) 669-3177.
Guests staying at Kapalua Resort can take advantage of a free shuttle that stops at the major hotels, golf courses, tennis facilities, and shops in the area. The daily service runs from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call (808) 669-3177.
Big Island of Hawaii
In the Hilo area, the Hele-On Bus can get you to where you want to go. Fares can range from 75 cents to $6, depending on the length of the route. Several bus pass options are available. Call (808) 961-8744.
The daily shuttles of Roberts Hawaii's Kona Coast Express System link resorts on the island's northeastern Kohala coast with shops along its southeastern Kona coast. All-day passes on one of three shuttles are $4, while a system-wide pass costs $13. Shuttles begin running between 6 and 8 a.m. and stop running between 10 and 11 p.m. A round-trip averages two hours and ten minutes. For more information, including route stops, visit robertshawaii.com or call (800) 767-7551.
Guests staying at either The Lodge at Koele or Manele Bay Hotel on Lanai enjoy shuttle service between the hotels and the airport.
Excerpted from The Unofficial Guide to Hawaii by Rick Carroll Marcie Carroll Betty ShimaBukuro Excerpted by permission.
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