Trolleys are a great way to get around Waikiki. Cheaper than a taxi and less confusing than the bus, they provide a direct link between the hotel district and shopping, historic or entertainment destinations.
Several trolley lines serve the hotel district. Some are private charters for tour groups, others take shoppers directly to a single destination, such as Hilo Hattie's. Three trolly lines serve tourists well. The pink line runs between the end of Waikiki near the zoo and Ala Moana Shopping Center. Because it snakes its way through Waikiki, you get the chance to see where many stores and hotels are located. The red line provides a tour of historic Honolulu sites, including the State Capitol, Iolani Palace and China Town. The green line will take you to the zoo, aquarium and along Queen Kapiolani Park (with a great view of Diamond Head). You can get on or off at any of the stops. And, because it is open air, you can snap photos as you roll along.
The Shopping (pink) line fare is two dollars (exact change required). That is roughly the same as the bus ($2.25) and much cheaper than a taxi. (Multi-line or multi-day passes are sold.) The trolley ride is entertaining — visiting or watching fellow passengers is easy when everyone is on benches facing one another. Drivers provide commentary on the route. The drivers and assistants know where everything is in the area and are happy to give directions. It is also easier to rubber-neck when you're not worried about missing your stop — you can't accidentally end up somewhere else. History and Nature routes cost more, check the website for the rate for single or multiple day passes.
There is a down side. Because the trolleys are open, they are not air conditioned. Usually, that's not much of a problem. However, trolleys get caught in the same traffic as everyone else on Oahu. When there are parades or festivals or special events (nearly every weekend), the trip can be measured in inches. When my daughter visited recently, we took the trolley to go grocery shopping at Ala Moana. The trip to the mall was a breeze, but the return ran into heavy festival traffic. We were hot and sunburned by the end. If we had returned before late-afternoon when the party got going, we would have been fine.
I still recommend the trolley as a great way to tour Honolulu. At the recent Memorial Day lantern floating at Ala Moana Beach Park, many visitors wisely came by trolley. Even if you're stuck in traffic, you don't have to worry about parking spaces or other vehicles — leave that to the driver as you enjoy the view.
June 12th, 2010