As you are planning on visiting Kauai, a question arose: Do you need a rental car in Kauai? Is it necessary to fully embrace the beauty of this enchanting island? Kauai, aptly named the Garden Isle, promises a treasure trove of natural wonders, each corner offering something unique to discover. Join us on this exploration as we delve into the road rules of Kauai, navigating through the lush landscapes and picturesque routes, all while pondering the choice between the convenience of a rental car and alternative modes of transportation. From hidden gems to offbeat adventures, let’s embark on this journey to unveil the true essence of Kauai.

A Scenic Drive Through Kauai’s Natural Symphony

You’ve just flown into Lihue Airport from the mainland with your family, and as you steer your rented Jeep through Maluhia Road’s main highway spectacular Tunnel of Trees, you find yourself turning up the volume on the Bluetooth. Your Ziggy Marley tune melds perfectly with all of the lush scenery, and as a rainshower douses your windshield out of nowhere, the wiper blades flick along with the beat.

When you emerge from the tunnel, singing loudly as your kids giggle and heading toward Poipu Beach on the South Shore, the sun is blazing, and the wet greenery is shimmering.

“When can we go find a waterfall, Dad?” your little one enthuses from the bumpy back seat, all smiles despite the 10-hour travel day. You promise that as soon as you get checked into the Kauai resort and unpack your suitcases, you can hit the road in search of a big one.

“Looks like Wailua Falls is only 16 miles from our resort,” your teenager says, her nose in her smartphone. “And it’s a double one!”

Unlocking Kauai’s Boundless Exploration with a Rental Car in Kauai

The Garden Isle of Kauai positively brims with adventure, natural beauty and possibility, and relative to other Hawaiian islands, it is small and less populous. No big cities buttress the beaches, no towering resorts block the sunshine, and scant little rush hour clogs traffic. (You will likely encounter more chickens on the side roads than you will vehicles.) This means you can cover a lot of the island in a short amount of time. Still, fewer folks mean fewer public transportation options. Sure, you can call a taxi or summon an Uber or Lyft, but they are scarce — especially on a moment’s notice — and some of the more remote adventure spots have limited WiFi to even connect with rideshare apps. Busses are frustratingly time-consuming — not to mention their belching crawl seems anathema to Mother Nature’s grandeur. Some resorts have scattered shuttle services, of course, and though bicycles and scooters can be had, most roads do not accommodate them safely, if at all.

Enter Rental Cars. Procuring one came highly recommended, and you are so happy you heeded the advice. Having a car at your fingertips on Kauai makes all the difference in your island experience.

Kaui has one major thoroughfare — the Kuhio Highway — and it takes just under 3 hours to travel from the North Shore’s Haena to the West Side’s Polihale. Along the way, you are dazzled by stretches of golden coast, tiny beach towns, picturesque tropical groves and verdant farmland dotted with livestock.

As you continue your Kauai journey, you set your sights on the renowned Waimea Canyon. The allure of this natural wonder beckons, promising awe-inspiring views and a glimpse into the island’s geological history. The drive along winding roads brings you to the canyon’s edge, where layers of vibrant reds and oranges stretch out before your eyes. The scent of earth and foliage hangs in the air as you embark on trails that wind through this majestic landscape. Each step reveals new perspectives, and you find yourself pausing often to take in the grandeur of Waimea Canyon, a testament to nature’s artistic prowess.

“Whoa, whoa, wait!” your spouse says, pointing toward the Jeep’s windshield toward the most spectacular ocean view sparkling beyond a cliff. “Pull over, please, love!”

You find yourself hitting the brakes often — for a ginormous rainbow, a tiny shave-ice truck parked under a coconut tree, and at various eye-popping Waimea Canyon lookouts. All well worth the time and brake power.

Eager for more exploration, you turn your attention to the legendary Na Pali Coastline. The towering cliffs rise like ancient sentinels, their rugged faces adorned with lush greenery. Your camera shutter clicks incessantly, capturing every angle of this coastal marvel. The Napali Coastline leaves an indelible impression, a reminder of the raw beauty that Kauai so generously offers to those willing to venture into its embrace.

So yes. You and your entire family are thrilled to have rented this Jeep — and with it the freedom to create your own custom Kauai adventure. And Ziggy Marley makes it all even better.



Car Rental Tips:

— Book your rent a car well in advance for the best selection and pricing as cars sell out and rates can go into overdrive — especially during high seasons.

— If available, consider renting a car through your resort for convenient pick-up and return, as you will avoid crowds at the airport. Koloa Landing Resort has an Enterprise desk right in the lobby.

— For steep discounts, is a great resource. Just be sure to read the fine print about deposits and cancellations, which can be strict. A similar route is Discount Hawaii Car Rental.

— Remember that a Jeep, a convertible or any other type of “fun” vehicle becomes an experience in itself. Economy cars make good sense for travelers on a budget.

For more information on rental cars on Kauai, contact Koloa Landing Resort, where the friendliest locals are ready to help. Or, to book directly, use our onsite Enterprise desk or call (808) 742-9395. Aloha — and happy adventuring!

Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort