We recently wrote an article about how to get from HNL to the North Shore of Oahu, given that it’s one of the most frequently asked questions, outside of that for Waikiki of course. There’s a lot to see and do on the North Shore which is why it is so popular with visitors. However, the windward side is no slouch either, and in fact boasts the most beautiful and diverse coastline on all of Oahu. The gem of the windward side is Kailua and Kailua Beach, which is why many of you opt to stay on this special part of the island. But getting here from Honolulu International Airport is a bit challenging without proper preparation. Today, we take a look at your best options.
3 Things You Need to Know About Getting from Honolulu International Airport to Kailua (and Kailua Beach) Oahu
1. Traffic from HNL to Kailua
If you draw a straight line from HNL to Kailua, it looks pretty simple. It’s between 17-19 miles by vehicle, so in theory it’s an easy enough drive. However, traffic dictates your time on this route more so than many other “from HNL” destinations. You’re either going to go from the IH1 (W) through to IH3 (E), or via the I-H-1 E from Ala Onaona St and Aolele St. While the latter is technically shorter (at 17 miles) construction is more common along this route in the summer months (at press). Either way, you’re looking at a travel time between 25-35 minutes during off hours. However, if you’ve arrived at HNL around 2:30, spent some time in baggage claim, and left around 3PM you will be headed for rush hour, which typically runs from 3PM to 6:30PM. During rush hour, you’re looking at a travel time between 55-minutes and an 1 hr 15 minutes. If you can plan your flight accordingly, we suggest you do so . Of course, none of that time spent in the car will mean a thing as soon as you arrive in this idyllic island town.
2. Late Night Arrivals in Kailua
Getting into HNL late and heading into the North Shore can be a bit daunting given that the country shuts down around 8 or 9 pM, but Kailua is a bit busier so it won’t feel like a ghost town on a late arrival. Kailua Road will have a few places open late that you can duck in to should you need a snack or toiletries before checking into your Airbnb or vacation rental (there aren’t typical hotels close by). That being said, it’s no Waikiki Beach, so if it’s your first time in Kailua and the sun has set hours ago, you may be better off in the hands of a driver that knows the area. Save the car rental for when you’re already in Kailua as there are options on Hamakua Drive and a few other places. Keep reading.
3. Your Best Transportation Option
So what are your transportation options from Honolulu airport to Kailua and Kailua Beach?
Forget about taking a taxi – that’s practically half of the cost of your accommodations for one night on the windward side of the island. Unsure of that? Below is a screenshot from TaxiFareFinder:
The analysis was run at 10:30 AM HST (not rush hour) and came to a whopping $93.55. The cost range doesn’t look much better either:
What about TheBus? View the reasons here as to why you should not even consider that. We’ve already addressed car rentals in item #2 above, so what about Uber or Lyft? Not a great idea. For one, you will use up valuable time getting from baggage claim to the designated (and restricted) pick-up spots. In addition, if traveling with more than carry-ons, you could be crammed into a standard UberX with your party’s luggage, and if you opt for an UberXL to fit (maybe) all passengers, luggage, and car seats, you will end up with one of the most expensive options for getting to Kailua Beach. Right now, at 10:30 AM HST (May 25), UberXL rings in at $101.35. We encourage you to try the Uber/Lyft app yourself to see what estimate you get. But there’s also the fact that you’ll be stuck in 30 to 60-minutes of traffic with some random person who is not a professionally trained driver. View more the potential woes of using a ride-hailing service from HNL.
OK, so we just told you how not to get from the airport to Kailua, so what is the best option? You guessed it, the best way to get from HNL to Kailua (and Kailua Beach), is to book a direct, no share (outside of your party), flat rate shuttle that will get you from HNL baggage claim to your windward destination quickly, safely, and without any unpleasant surprises in the most cost effective manner possible. Our flat rate, for up to a party of four, is just $60 to Kailua. When you factor in the convenience, efficiency, and cheap per passenger cost breakdown, it doesn’t get any better! Call 1.800.929.1219 to book your transfer, or complete the easy reservation form.