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North America > United States > Kauai

See: Why hire a car in Kauai ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring. Yes, this site is being updated, but the graphics will come later)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Kauai?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest. That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than simple yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Kauai?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Kauai car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Kauai with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.


Should I rent a car in Kauai? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Kauai, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Kauai car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Kauai is in car rental price band: 7/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Kauai? 

No. Car rental is expensive by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Kauai between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 4/10

Non car score:6/10

Balance: 3

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Given that there is only really one major road running in a “C” shape around only part of the island of Kauai, we don’t really think that Lihu’e is a sort of destination where a hire car is going to be particularly useful. The island is also small enough that resort transfers can easily be done in a taxi without bringing up an exorbitant bill.

Why? Visiting Kauai using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Kauai ?

  • No buses on the island.
  • A car is useful to see Kauai on your own terms.

Why not? Visiting Kauai without a car

Why don't you need a car in Kauai ?

Yet to really appreciate the incredibly rugged interior, you will either need to go on a hiking tour or to take a “Jurassic Park” style helicopter excursion – the latter is the only way to actually see the famous falls which feature in the opening and closing scenes of the film, as it is located on a private estate with no overland access.

Ratings: How does Kauai compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Kauai? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Kauai, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Kauai? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Kauai (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Kauai? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Kauai airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Kauai car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 7

2019 - 2

2021 - 3

Average score - 4



There’s just not much point in getting a rental car for any of this, although it might be worth hiring a car for one day when you are here to do the full island tour.


Do you or don't you need a car in Kauai ?

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