Christine Hitt
Christine Hitt

A recent traveler to Hawaii told me he didn't rent a car, but instead used a rideshare when wanting to go outside the vicinity of the hotel. Many years ago, I would have thought it impossible to properly see the Islands without a rental car, but this made me question whether rental cars are necessary. 

Airport transportation can be purchased to pick up visitors and take them to their respective hotels. Circle Island Tours can be booked for the island of Oahu, and there are many tours to major visitor destinations, whether that's Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbor, the Road to Hana, or the top of Haleakala. There are trolleys in Waikiki on Oahu and Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Some resort towns have their own complimentary shuttles, such as in Kaanapali on Maui. Taxis are also plentiful, and let's not forget TheBus or any of the Islands' other public transit, which many visitors already utilize.

Related: Reserve rental cars well ahead, as demand still outpaces supply

Of course, there's a loss of flexibility and privacy when you opt for many of these alternative methods, but they do enable you to enjoy the scenery instead of worrying about directions, where to go or where to park. It also benefits residents by taking cars off the road that add to traffic congestion. 

"We can actually take four to five cars off the road by bundling people who are going in the same direction from the airport to the hotel," said Cecil Morton, the CEO of SpeediShuttle, best known for its group airport shuttles. He's also the CEO of Arthur's Limousine, IMI Tours and the only Hawaii-based and locally owned rideshare company, Holoholo, which operates on all the Hawaiian Islands with the exception of Molokai.

Morton said the counties are split between wanting to make the roads easier to drive for residents and visitors and earning revenue by taxing the rental cars. "There's absolutely no balance, because the caps of (rental car) inventory are way too high," he says.

Rideshare operations, such as Uber, Lyft and Holoholo, have allowed more flexibility for visitors, making rental cars not as necessary as they once were. Whether these shuttles, tours or rideshare services are practical for your clients really depends on the island and planned itinerary, but I now see how trips without a rental car can be possible.

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