On the surface, this commonly asked question may appear to have a simple answer, which is the same for any one arriving at an international airport en route to any hotel on the mainland. City transit.
For $2.75 per-person you can take TheBus (one word according to the Oahu Transit Services) from HNL to Waikiki. And yet, you simply cannot just look at that $2.75 tally and draw your conclusion, even if it is factually on point. There is so much more to consider which is why we’re here to break down the criteria of what constitutes the “cheapest” way to get from HNL to Waikiki.
3 Things You Need to Consider When Deciding the Cheapest Way to Get from Honolulu International Airport to Your Waikiki Accommodations
1. Do You Have Luggage?
If you have more than a carry-on, then you can’t take TheBus. Oahu Transit Services (and unwavering drivers) have strict rules in place about baggage allowance:
“Baggage that can be stored under a passenger’s seat or on a passenger’s lap, that will not protrude to another seat or otherwise interfere with other passengers, will be admitted at no charge. Baggage that will not be admitted on board shall include any large, bulky, dangerous or offensive article that may cause harm or discomfort to any passenger. No baggage may be stored in the aisle or on the seats.” (source: TheBus.org)
Unless you’re coming for a weekend trip with little more than a backpack in tow, this discounted trip has already been disqualified from consideration.
The amount of luggage you and your party has may also impact your ability to book a seemingly affordable Uber. A typical Mazda6, Ford Fusion, Honda Civic hatchback, or Prius (most common Uber cars of the past year) won’t fit a large collection of luggage, leaving you with the only option to book an UberXL which is much more expensive (over $70 USD) during most common HNL arrival periods.
2. What’s Your Time Worth?
This question is more important than the one that leads the article. You’re on vacation and you’ve devoted hard earned money to take time off, pay for your flight/s, find a hotel/rental, and set the budget for activities, dining, and entertainment. Without a doubt, your time on vacation is financially quantifiable, or in other words, time is money.
From the moment you land the clock begins to tick towards the moment you have to return home to reality, so why would you want to spend time (and thus money) wasted waiting for city transit (assuming you only have carry-on bags) to do its deed? Even if it arrives on time, TheBus has to get you from HNL and through the No.19’s 43 cumbersome stops that occur on your route from Nimitz Highway to your inevitable conclusion somewhere on Kuhio Avenue. The same time lag is true of shared shuttle services. Not only do you have to wait until they’ve gathered all other passengers from baggage claim, they have numerous hotel and resort stops to make along the way.
There is opportunity cost in that lost time, time could be spent catching the sunset along the beach or grabbing a Mai Tai or two before last call at Duke’s. You’re time on Oahu is worth a LOT more that the perceived money you save by taking the literal cheapest path from HNL to Waikiki. But there’s more.
3. How Many People Are in Your Party?
You must also factor the number of people in your travel party. Let’s say in some unlikely scenario you don’t have typical luggage and you are able to take TheBus at $2.75 a pop for a party of four. That puts you at $11. Before the 1.5-2 hour trek (which includes getting from baggage claim to the pick-up spot and trip) you and your party will need to grab snacks/beverages after a 6+ hour flight, which adds to the per-person tally. That $11 (party of four) can quickly hit over $50 (there’s little to takeout food at HNL for less that $10/person). Compare that to our $35 flat rate for a party of four, which breaks down to just $8.75 per person!
The same per-person math also applies to another alternative that some incorrectly assume is the cheapest way to get from HNL to Waikiki – shared shuttles. In 2019, shared airport shuttles charge $15-18 per person for a one-way ride to Waikiki (based on a return trip). As soon as you count three people in your party ($45 to $54 at the $15 to $18 per person rates) it no longer makes any sense when compared to our $35 flat rate for your party of four. In fact, even a single or double person shared shuttle doesn’t add up when you factor in time (as per item #2 above) because you have to stop at every other passenger drop-off zone along the way. Yes, these very same shuttle services offer private car service, but those are far more expensive than our $35 flat rate for relatively the same private experience.
So what’s the cheapest way to get from Honolulu International Airport to Waikiki Beach? It turns out that it’s also the quickest, most efficient, and aloha-filled way to do so.
~ ALOHA ~