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Do You Need a Car in Maui? 5 Things to Know

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Planning a trip to Maui? If not, why not!? Are you worried about transportation? Do you need a car in Maui? If you’re unsure about Maui’s public and private transport options and the top tourist spots to explore, just read this article here. Thank me later.

Maui has everything one would expect to see on a Hawaiian island: sapphire seas, pristine beaches, verdant palm trees under tranquil blue skies, and tropical agriculture.

Also known as “The Valley Isle,” Maui is the second-largest island in Hawaii and the 17th-largest island in the U.S. Aside from its picturesque views, the island is home to an astonishing range of animals, plants, and people and is a melting pot of a range of ethnicities and cultures. 

Tourists flock to Maui annually to explore this rich culture, experience its aloha spirit, and enjoy exciting activities you can’t find elsewhere in the U.S. 

Maui without a car

As such, many tourists wonder about the transport systems available in Maui and how best to get around the island. These are the basic questions you should ask beforehand: 

  • Do you need a rental car in Maui?
  • How about Maui’s public transport system? 
  • Is it possible to explore the island without a car?

Read on to learn everything about the transport available in Maui and the best places to visit

Do You Need a Car in Maui?

Honolua Bay Maui

This island promises a memorable vacation, thanks to its stunning beaches and breathtaking scenery. There’s so much to explore that you might need a vehicle to go from one place to another. 

So, do you need a car in Maui? Or, perhaps you’re more comfortable with walking and utilizing public transport? It mostly depends on your travel preferences and budget.

There could be several reasons why you would want to consider exploring Maui with a car. For instance, you’re on a short vacation and need a rental car to explore as much as possible. A car might be convenient if you’re touring with small children as children quickly get annoyed with public transport. 

If, however, you’re traveling with an older group or on your own with ample time for the tour, living in Maui without a car is entirely possible. 

How? Maui’s public transportation allows you to get around adequately without a car. But adequate is sometimes not good enough. Besides the public transport system, you can rent a car or a bike and buzz around on a scooter. Cool, right? Yes. Yes, it is.

Is Maui Public Transportation Good? 

Maui Bus

If you didn’t bring your car (no one would blame you for not!), public transport is the best way to get around Maui other than a car rental. Rental cars in Maui can be hard to come by. Fortunately, the island’s public transport is pretty reliable, and you can get the most out of your trip even if you don’t have your vehicle.

What else is good? Public transit is inexpensive, so you won’t have to worry about finances. Below are a few public transport options for you in Maui: 

Bus

The island’s main bus company, Maui Bus, comprises 14 routes funded by the County of Maui. The system serves Haiku, Kula, Central, South Maui, West Maui, and Upcounty Maui Communities. 

Furthermore, the transport system operates seven days a week, so you don’t have to worry about bus availability. A one-way fare costs around $2, a daily pass (fixed route) is priced at $4, and a monthly pass costs up to $45, respectively.

What else is good? Children under five travel absolutely for free! You can purchase the fare and hop on the bus to explore the sandy beaches and visit eye-popping attractions without spending a dime!

Wailea Beachwalk Maui

Taxi

Maui has plenty of taxi services with comfortable seating and air-conditioned vehicles. Many cabs can fit 5-6 passengers with plenty of room for gear and luggage. Plus, cabs operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, holidays included.

So, no matter when you plan to get around Maui, you can always hire a taxi to get you where you need to go. Moreover, the rates won’t fluctuate no matter which company you choose to travel with because the County of Maui sets the prices. 

The initial fee costs $3.50 and .30 cents per tenth of a mile. The first mile costs $6, and all subsequent miles cost $3. Additionally, if the driver waits for you, you’ll be charged for each minute of wait time. 

Lastly, the drivers of these taxis are locals who can guide you to the best places to visit to make your Maui vacation even more memorable; another plus, if you’re unsure about travel destinations in Maui!

Makena Beach Maui Hawaii

Truck

Maui’s north shore, scenic sights, and nature sound demand an open-air trip. Also, if you’re a nature lover, you may want to consider an open-air journey to indulge in the island’s atmosphere. 

Fortunately, Maui offers a fun and unique travel experience considering your needs and demands, thanks to the custom-built open-air trucks. 

These wicked trucks will make your trip even more exciting and leave you with lasting memories as you trundle along with the wind flowing through your hair. Maui truck tours typically make four stops: 

  • Historical Town of Paia 
  • Jaws General Store
  • Ho’okipa Beach Park
  • Twin Falls

With each spot you visit, thrilling experiences await you. Also, with the company of other passengers on the truck, you get to interact and experience the diversity of Maui!

Airport Shuttle 

If you’re wondering about Maui public transportation from the airport, then know that Maui Airport Shuttle offers rides to and from the airport. 

Molokini Crater Maui

You can board the shuttle service and reach your desired location in Maui within minutes. Speedi Shuttle provides service for all properties on the West and South sides, including in the Wailuku and Kahului. 

The Shuttle covers airports, including Kapalua Airports in West Maui (JHM) and Kahului Airport in Maui (OGG). Furthermore, Speedi Shuttle provides service to neighboring islands as well.

Note: Sugar Cane Train was the Maui Light Rail System under operation since 1970. Nevertheless, the company closed in 2014 due to financial difficulties and hasn’t opened yet. Therefore, you cannot experience the Maui Light Rail at present.

Do You Need to Rent a Car in Maui? 

Banyan Court Park Lahaina Maui

While Maui’s local transit system is reliable, fast, cheap, and convenient, you may have your reasons for renting a car.  You won’t have to go through the hassle of buying tickets. There’s no endless waiting at the local transport stops. Cars save your journey time, and you won’t have trouble carrying your luggage around. Plus, there’s the independence of having a car.

Also, you might prefer a rental car if you have small children who may get irritated by crowded public transportation. There’s also this neverending pandemic that might encourage you to get your rental car. Renting a car adds to your convenience, especially when you have a family or have safety in mind. 

However, with the latest car shortage, this may not be feasible. Most local car rental companies have returned from the recent car shortage, and pricing has slightly increased.

It’s a commonly held thought that renting a car can get expensive, and that can be true, but if you plan, you’ll save money; KAYAK provides affordable car deals. You can browse their website and pick a rental car that fits your budget and style preferences.

Companies like Rentalcars also offer direct online booking with local rental companies. You can enter the date, time, and location where you need the car, and the driver will be at your doorstep in no time. 

What are the Other Ways to Get Around Maui Without a Car?

Boardwalk Maui Ocean

If you do not have a car and want to avoid public transportation, you can still get around The Valley Isle!

Bike 

Gaze out at epic landscapes and suck in that Hawaiian air from behind the handlebars of a bike. Lately, Maui bike tours have become massively popular! You enjoy the sunlight and pleasant weather and breathe fresh air while taking in the sights. 

Cruising down Maui’s hills with a couple of friends will give you countless moments to remember. All you need to do is bring your bike or rent one, get a helmet, mount up, and get peddling!

Scooters

Want to get around Maui in style? Consider getting a scooter for an exhilarating experience you’ll never forget. This is an excellent alternative to a rental car as it’s fast, generally more eco-friendly, and cheaper. However, it’s not for the faint of heart, as you’ll need to drive safely.

A scooter will make up for an adrenaline-filled ride if you’re solo. You can explore the epic volcanic landscapes and cruise down the smooth roads of Maui.

On Oahu Island, you can get an electric ‘Lime’ scooter for a relaxed journey. However, the only option for motorized scooters in Maui is mopeds. When renting one of these rolling hairdryers, you must provide a driver’s license, and all riders under 21 must wear a helmet. 

Renting a scooter has its downsides. For instance, you’re only allowed to travel within the range specified by the rental company. But, if you have your push scooter, you’re all set to discover the undiscovered sites in Maui. So, what are you waiting for? Hop on a scooter and head on for a scenic ride.

On Foot

Want to avoid the trouble of endless traffic blocking your way? Ditch your rental car and head out for a walk. 

tropical gardens of maui

If you plan to walk during the day, apply sunscreen and wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun. A water bottle is also essential for long walks on a sunny day.

Maui is such a beautiful place that is just walking the island and soaking in your surroundings is as good as any guided tour or trek to a specific destination. It’s tropical heaven on Earth! If you stay in Lahaina or on Kaanapali Beach, you’ll be within walking distance of restaurants, bars, and shops.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the US During Your 20s

Exploring Maui Without a Car: Is It Possible?

Short answer: Yes. Exploring Maui without a rental car isn’t only possible but a whole new experience for travel freaks. A Hawaiian vacation offers visitors more than they could ever imagine. Below, we’ve compiled a list of Maui’s best places. 

Haleakala Sunrise 

Sunrise Haleakala Maui

Do you know the name of the highest point in Maui? It’s the Halaeka! It’s the largest active volcano in the world (eek!) and attracts thousands of visitors yearly. It reaches an incredible height of 10,032 feet. While you may not enjoy waking up at 3 in the morning, the scenic beauty of Halaekala’s Sunrise is worth the struggle!

Bring your camera and water bottle and witness the sky change color as the sun’s rays peek over the volcano’s crest. However, Haleakala Sunrise is a popular attraction, and it is always crowded. So, do not forget to reserve your visit in advance!

Mermaid Adventures

We have all adored the book or Disney adaptation of The Little Mermaid since childhood. Admit it; being a mermaid and getting lost in a nautical dream world still fascinates you. 

Well, experience your dreams come to life in Maui’s Mermaid Adventures. That’s right! You can transform into a mermaid, play and swim in the ocean like Ariel and King Triton. This unique activity is great fun for children and adults alike.  If you do not know how to swim, there’s no need to worry, as Hawaii Mermaid Adventures teaches swimming. 

Whale Watching

Whale in the sea

If you’re a thalassophile (that’s a sea lover to you and me), perhaps you know the unbeatable joy of swimming in the ocean and watching humpback whales splash their flukes into the water. If you’re in Maui, you can do that all and have time with these gentle giants of the sea. 

Note that the time between December and April is the best to go whale watching. Thousands of whales swim from Alaska to Hawaii yearly to give birth and nurse their calves in the warm water. 

Also, if you’re an experienced scuba diver, you can swim closer to them and even touch them. Cool, isn’t it? No, it’s beyond cool. It’s freaking EPIC.

Surfing 

Surfing in Maui Hawaii

Surfing is perhaps the coolest thing you can do in Maui. The most famous surf spots on the island include Ho’opkipa Beach Park, Honolua Bay, and the Jaws (also known as Peahli). 

If you’re new to surfing, you can take surfing lessons. It’s a thrilling experience to take on the waves once you learn to surf. Plus, you can challenge your friends and family to add to the excitement. If braving the waves isn’t your thing, watching Maui’s resident surfers ride the waves is always a blast!

Waterfalls 

Falls in Maui

Do you know Hawaii has some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world? Many visitors claim the waterfalls are one of the best reasons to visit Maui. 

Plenty of gorgeous waterfalls, straight-out fantasy adventure novels, and postcards exist. No matter where you’re staying in Maui, there is a captivating waterfall just a few miles away.

If you’re looking for hints, Upper Waikani Falls, Twin Falls, Makapipi Falls, Waimoku Falls, Makahiku Falls, Nemo, Ohe’o Glutch, and Four Falls of Na’ili’ili Haele are some of the best waterfalls to visit in Maui. 

FAQ

Is a car necessary in Maui?

A rental car is not necessary in Maui. Rental cars are great for visiting places outside central Maui, such as Haleakala National Park and Lanai. For the most part, just living in Hawaii means that anywhere on the planet becomes accessible at some point or another with regular air travel.

You need a car for those days when you cannot find parking within a few blocks of your destination.

Can you stay in Maui without a car?

Yes, you can stay in Maui without a rental car. Most hotels offer free shuttle service to all of the attractions in Maui. There are also lots of taxi car companies and private shuttle services in Maui that can provide transportation within the island.

The farther south you go, the less likely you are to find public transit or an organized shuttle system. If you want to explore beyond what’s near your hotel, renting a car is probably your best bet.

Can you go to Hawaii without renting a car?

You don’t need a car to get around the Hawaiian Islands, but there are some things you’ll want to be aware of.

– Taxis can be costly
– The density is 77 people/square mile
– Trains and buses are not always prevalent (you’re on island time!)
– You will most likely stay in one area or near your resort for the duration of your vacation, so renting a car may not be necessary, although it does simplify life if you go out with friends during your vacation
– When traveling by foot, most roads do not have sidewalks, so walking long distances can become tiresome and unsafe

You can get around Hawaii on foot, by bicycle, taxi, and bus. But if you are short on time and traveling with multiple people, the best way to discover the island is in a rental car.

You can turn it into a two or three-day tour since you’ll be able to cover more ground when you do not have to wait for transportation. Just be sure to contact the right rental car companies in advance to get the best pricing.

How do I get to a resort without a rental car?

If traveling to Maui, you can take a taxi or private shuttle to/from the hotel. Some hotels offer free or reduced airport shuttles at airport shuttle prices!

You can also save money and get local advice for your holiday from Maui’s friendly, knowledgeable residents by taking public transportation. Check with your hotel if they offer free shuttles around the airport and towns.

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