There are good reasons for renting a car on your Hawaii vacation. Even if you are part of a group that provides transportation to and from most of the venues on your itinerary, you’ll probably want to go off and explore on your own. Public transportation is pretty grim on the “outer” islands – Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island. On the other hand, if you’re staying in Waikiki, you can walk to just about all the shopping and entertainment venues, but Oahu’s a big island with many, many attractions away from Waikiki.
Especially on Oahu, the strongest argument against renting a car is the parking hassle. Parking spaces are becoming harder and harder to find in Downtown Honolulu and in Waikiki, and the private lots are getting really expensive. But you can still find free spaces or spaces with reasonable rates if you check around.
Here are some general tips you can make note of:
There are about 750 free parking stalls in Kapiolani Park lots near the bandstand, the Natatorium, the Waikiki Shell and the tennis courts. Hundreds of additional free parking spots are available on the makai (ocean) side of Kalakaua Avenue in the park and along the Ala Wai Canal.
Street parking is free, even at metered stalls, on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.
Restaurants that offer validated parking for the price of a meal and valet service at multi-plex movies all amount to free parking.
Restaurant Row parking is free with merchant validation. Ala Moana Center and the Ward Centers both offer free parking.
Downtown, there are several private lots, but municipal lots or street parking are your best choices. Some suggestions:
Marks Garage: Chaplain Lane between Bethel and Nuuanu. $3 per half hour, $8 flat rate before 3 p.m., $5 flat rate after 3 p.m. and weekends.
Beretania Nuuanu Lot: Nuuanu between Beretania and Chaplin Lane. $3 per half hour, $7 flat rate before 3 p.m., $5 flat rate after 4 p.m., $4 flat rate on weekends.
The following are the most affordable Downtown parking lots:
Municipal Parking Garages’ first two hours are 75¢ per 1/2 hr, $1.50 1/2 hr thereafter. After 5 p.m., 50¢ per ½-hour or $3 max.
• Kukui Plaza:
Kukui St. between Fort and Nuuanu.
• Alii Place: Alakea between King and Hotel.
• Chinatown Gateway: Bethel between King and Hotel.
• Hale Pauahi: Beretania St. between Maunakea and River.
• Harbor Court: Bethel St. between Nimitz and Merchant.
• Harbor Village: Nimitz Hwy. between River and Kekaulike (meters)
• Kekaulike Courtyard: Maunakea between Nimitz & King
• Marin Tower: Smith between Nimitz & Marin
• Smith–Beretania: Beretania St. between Nuuanu & Smith
• Metered Street Parking: $1.50 per hour. Have change handy. Free after 6 p.m.
• Most Private Garages offer $3.00-$5.00 flat rates evenings and weekends.
If you have other questions about driving in Hawaii, pick an agent from the Hawaii-Aloha. Web site (hawaii-aloha.com), or call 1-800-843-8771.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
March 13th, 2009