How to Travel in Kauai Without a Car


It’s true that renting a car in Kauai makes navigating the island easy, especially when it comes to exploring farther afield in a shorter period of time. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have alternatives. Whether for cost, carbon emission reduction, or a desire to avoid getting behind the wheel, you may not want to rent a car. Public transport, taxi, and tour bus are just a few of the alternative ways to explore the island. Learn the ins and outs of getting around on Kauai without a car.

Tour Operators

Depending on the level of luxury you’re after, you can go on a budget group tour to make new friends and have a great time, or you can opt for a private tour for ultimate flexibility. Either way, you can get around to most of the major sights, even remote areas like Waimea Canyon, without having to turn a key yourself.

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Bike Rentals

With the rise of ebikes, alongside traditional pedal bikes, bike rentals are booming on the island. The Ke Ala Hele Makalae trail offers a relaxed pedal along parts of Kauai’s east shore, and relatively flat roads will let you skip the huffing and puffing. You can explore neighboring beaches without having to worry about driving, and you can enjoy stopping whenever you like as you take in the scenery at a leisurely pace. If you’re happy with a little power on two wheels, you could even rent a moped for the day to scoot around.

Taxi and Rideshare

Between taxis and ride shares, you can find your way from one hotspot to another, though you might have to pay a premium to get to more remote areas. Uber and Lyft do have coverage on the island, but you may find limited drivers out and about, depending on the time of day. Though this option isn’t quite traveling without a car, it beats having to get a rental for yourself, with wheels just when you need them.

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The Kauai Bus

The Kauai Bus services most areas of the island, including Wailua. Keep in mind, this isn’t the place to carry your luggage, beach chairs and surfboard, as carry-on bag limits keep you to one 10x17x30 inch bag. However, buses are fitted with bike racks, so you can combine your carless transport options without any issues. You can pay per trip, or pick up a day pass at select supermarkets around the island. Buses run seven days of the week, but keep in mind that some routes only have limited runs, and be sure to plan accordingly.

Airport Shuttle

When you touch down at Lihue Airport, you won’t want to stress about making it to your lodging with ease, even without a car. Several airport shuttle options serve the island, and even if your vacation rental isn’t on the list they frequent, it should be easy to get dropped off nearby and hoof it to your spot.

It’s certainly possible to visit Kauai without a car. But the most important starting point is to have your accommodation set in an area you’ll love, so you don’t need to go far for the essentials. The 17 Palms Kauai Cottages sit conveniently in Wailua, a popular spot with plenty to do, offering easy access to dining, shore trails, beaches and waterfalls. Once you’re here, the island is yours to explore.