Top 10 Travel Tips For Hawaii Road Trips



Hawaii is more than just a vacation destination. It’s an escape to paradise with 8 islands to choose from. Each island has a lot to offer including beautiful beaches, breathtaking views, and great activities. 

There is a lot to be explored in Hawaii including its nature, culture, and people. Forget just lounging on the same beach every day. Make the most out of your vacation by going on a road trip! Road trips are a great way to explore the island and discover new things.

There are several road trip routes across Hawaii on different islands. Each offers a different experience and different side to the Hawaiian culture and geography. Here are tips to make your road trip to Hawaii exceptional. 



  • Secure a Vehicle 


Road trips are better if you have your vehicle than commuting. One of the viable options, if you don’t have your car, is renting. Renting a car on the Island can cost you about $34/ day to $63 per day depending on the type of vehicle. This cost is just for rental and does not include the cost of gas.

Another option is to ship your private vehicle from the mainland to Hawaii. Since you cannot drive your car from the mainland to Hawaii, you need to hire an auto transport company to transport your car to Hawaii and ship car from Hawaii to California after the road trip. Depending on your state, type of vehicle, and size of the vehicle, the cost of shipping a car to Hawaii can range anywhere from $1,500 – $2,500.



  • Get Permits to Use Your Vehicle


To go on road trips in Hawaii, you need to get the necessary permits. According to the Hawai’i County’s Vehicle Registration and Licensing Department, you should apply for a temporary out-of-state permit to use the vehicle. The permit will be valid up until 30 days upon arrival.  To get the permit, you will need the following:

  • Completed Out-of-State Vehicle Permit Application form
  • Dated shipping receipt
  • Certificate of Safety Check Inspection from the Government of Hawaii
  • Permit Fee



  • Secure a Road Trip Itinerary


You can follow a tried and tested route or you can create one of your own based on your interests. Pick and choose an itinerary based on the museums, cities, beaches, and views you want to see along the way. 

An itinerary will not only give your trip a direction but also make it flexible and enjoyable. When choosing a road trip itinerary, make sure not to over-schedule the day as this will only make the trip stressful. 



  • Try Different Activities


Hawaii offers a lot of activities at each road trip stop. There are a lot of activities that this beautiful Island offers that will make your road trips more exciting.

You can snorkel with manta rays, scuba diving with turtles, or go kayaking, paddleboarding, and body surfing to name a few. You can also trek Haleakalā National Park’s crater trails or see Waipio Valley’s and Hamakua Coast’s amazing views. 



  • Pack for Different Adventures


A road trip will naturally mean different adventures at every stop. After you secured your itinerary, review what clothes and accessories are necessary for that adventure. Pack swimsuits and rash guards for a day at the beach, dri-fit shirts and arm guards for trekking, and a couple of cool and light clothes during the trip. 

Don’t forget to bring water bottles for hydration especially during summer and your action camera to capture once-in-a-lifetime memories. 



  • Respect Nature


Hawaii co-exists with nature and every measure is taken to protect it. As guests of the island, tourists are expected to extend this respect as well. Hawaiians believe in “Malama Ka ‘Aina I Ke Kai”(means to “take care of the land and ocean”).  Here are some rules to keep in mind:

  • Don’t steal any rocks, shells, and sands anywhere as “souvenirs”
  • Leave the sea turtles and monk seals alone if they’re on the beach
  • Never step on the corals during underwater activities.



  • Be Respectful of Hawaiian Culture


Be aware of Hawaiian culture and try to respect it as much as possible. Always return the warm hospitality of the people and be courteous to the locals. When in doubt about the Hawaiian culture, don’t hesitate to inquire from the locals. Here’s a short list of tourist etiquette in Hawaii:

  • Remove your shoes when entering someone’s home
  • Respect wahi pana or the sacred, off-limit sites 
  • Never refuse leis as they have high cultural significance as a symbol of peace.



  • Try Local Food 


When going on a road trip in Hawaii, don’t pass up the opportunity to eat delicious meals from local vendors, restaurants, street foods, and farmers’ markets.  Try the signature meal, poke, which is made up of raw fish, seaweed, and candlenuts. 

You may also want to try the Hawaiian comfort soup, saimin, and the Huli Huli chicken. Another great dish is the famous Maui Gold pineapples, which are exclusively grown in Hawaii.  



  • Choose Reef Safe Sunblock


Hawaii is the first state to ban sunscreens with harmful ingredients that kills corals. Oxybenzone was the primary ingredient for sunscreens because it absorbs UV rays. However, studies found that aside from causing allergic reactions to humans, it can also kill and damage corals. 

Hawaii only allows the use and sale of mineral-based sunscreens which are reef-safe. So keep in mind when planning a road trip to the Island.



  • Relax and Enjoy


This is a vacation, after all, so don’t stress yourself but take every opportunity to relax, enjoy, and have fun. Do not stress in following the itinerary or fussing about the little things. Make sure the plan ahead and be organized so you can take your mind off worrying. 



There is so much that you can get from a Hawaiian road trip. You just need to plan well and ensure that you keep the above tips in mind. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun because that is what you are after. Do your research on the different routes and tours to make for a comfortable road trip. After the vacation, you can inquire about shipping car from Hawaii to Mainland.  

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