Honolulu - Getting Around -

Get in

Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. with Interstate Highways that don't connect to another state. They are H-1, H-2, and the newest one H-3, all located on the island of Oahu.

By plane

Honolulu International Airport  is the main aviation gateway for the Hawaiian Islands. The airport's Main Terminal is served by most major American airlines from the mainland U.S, and by many international airlines from other countries around the Pacific Rim. Its Interisland Terminal is the home of Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines, both of which offer frequent local service to the other Hawaiian islands.

The Airport Waikiki Express provides shuttle service to hotels in Waikiki every half hour for $8 per person. City buses #19 and #20 ($2 Adult/ no change given/ $US bills and coins accepted) also come to the airport once every half-hour, going through Aala Park downtown and on to Waikiki. You can catch them on the outside second level of the international and domestic departure terminals.

The best way to get to Waikiki by rental car (where your hotel is most likely to be) is to follow signs for H-1 east, then follow H-1 east about 2 miles to exit 18A (Waikiki/Nimitz Highway). Follow Nimitz Highway (which turns into Ala Moana Boulevard past downtown Honolulu) straight into Waikiki. You will pass through Honolulu's industrial district, along Honolulu Harbor, and past downtown Honolulu and the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Get around


Unlike other cities on the U.S. Mainland, Honolulu is not laid out in a strict compass-point grid. Its street system conforms in large part to the shorelines, valleys, and ridges, with lots of twists and turns. It can be confusing for people used to straight grid systems. However, at the same time, it is not that difficult to navigate in, as long as you are familiar with the major arterials and terminology below.

Because it is difficult to differentiate north and south on an island, directions are normally given in terms of local landmarks. The most common terms that you will run into are mauka (MOW-kah) meaning "toward the mountain" and makai (mah-KIE) meaning "toward the sea". In the case of Honolulu, "mauka" is a rough north, and "makai" roughly south. You will also hear Ewa (EH-vah) and Diamond Head used a lot...the former roughly means "west" (toward the town of Ewa on the southwest shore of Oahu) and the latter roughly means "east" (toward the famous landmark crater on the southeast shore).

It is a very good idea to invest in a good map of Honolulu before doing extensive driving. Members of the American Automobile Association (AAA) can request fold-out maps for free from their local office. Rand McNally paper fold-out maps are available in many stores; for more extensive coverage you can also purchase Bryan's Sectional Maps (a popular choice among locals) at most bookstores for about $9.50.

Major arterials

Most major streets in Honolulu run Ewa-Diamond Head. There are two main highways in Honolulu: Nimitz Highway (Hawaii 92) which runs from Pearl Harbor past Honolulu Airport to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki; and Interstate H-1 which runs mauka of downtown.

H-1 is some distance away from Waikiki itself and you need to go onto surface streets to and from Waikiki. If you need to access H-1 west from Waikiki to go someplace outside of the city, there are two main routes:

  Go mauka to Ala Wai Boulevard and follow it Ewa-bound to McCully Street. Follow McCully mauka for about 1 mile; it will take you over H-1. At the foot of the bridge, turn left on Dole, then left again onto Alexander to the freeway onramp.
  Follow Kuhio or Kalakaua Avenue Diamond Head-bound to Kapahulu Avenue. Follow Kapahulu mauka for about 1 mile, it will take you under H-1 and lead you to the freeway onramp.

To get back to Waikiki from H-1 east, take either of these routes:

  Take exit 23 (Punahou Street). Turn right on Punahou, and stay in lane #3 from the left. This lane is right-turn only onto the left side of Beretania. Take an immediate left onto Kalakaua Avenue from Beretania. Follow Kalakaua into Waikiki.
  Take exit 25A (King Street). After merging onto King Street, stay to the right. Take the second right onto Kapahulu Avenue (follow signs to Waikiki). Follow Kapahulu into Waikiki.

In central Honolulu, the two main streets are King Street and Beretania Street. The two streets are one-way for most of their route; King Street runs from Ewa to Diamond Head, and Beretania Street from Diamond Head to Ewa. Both streets run through downtown Honolulu. Despite their rough west to east orientation, addresses on these streets are designated North and South respectively; the dividing line between the two is Nuuanu Avenue in downtown Honolulu, which runs mauka-makai.

In Waikiki, the three main streets, from makai to mauka, are Kalakaua Avenue (one way Ewa to Diamond Head, along Waikiki Beach), Kuhio Avenue (two-way), and Ala Wai Boulevard (one way Diamond Head to Ewa, along the Ala Wai Canal).

By bus

The local bus service in Honolulu is called, with remarkable succinctness, TheBus . Fares are $2 for adults, $1 for children and seniors (no change given - dollar bills accepted). TheBus runs intercity services to other parts of Oahu as well. Ask for a free transfer ticket if you are continuing on another bus. Monthly bus passes are available at 7-Elevens and supermarkets. Monthly bus passes begin on the first of each month and cost $40(all-you-can-ride) regardless of which day of the month you purchase the pass. Yearly bus passes are also available for $400. Most buses are equipped with bike racks that can hold two bikes.

Adapted from WikiTravel under the Wiki License

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