Maui is a relatively small island but it is also pretty sparsely populated, only the island center of Kahului is actually built up to any extent. This means getting anywhere on the island will involve a bit of a journey. We strongly advise anyone visiting the island to hire a car. It is by far and away the best way to get around and see the Island. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to hire a car. While this makes things a bit more challenging it is no reason to stay away from Maui. Here is our guide to Getting around Maui Without a car.
Maui has a very simple layout and navigating the island is very simple. there are only a few major roads connecting the different areas of the Island so even the most basic map will easily guide you where you want to go.
Driving Map of Hawaii – PDF
We know this is about getting around without a hire car but we just can’t stress enough how much having your own car on the island helps. As stated the island is very simple to navigate and driving conditions are very good. Island driving is very laid back and sedate, no one rushes anywhere. In fact, we personally find it all a little frustrating. So if you can at all hire a car we really suggest you should.
Having a car allows you the freedom to explore not really possible any other way. While you can get anywhere you need to without the joy of having a car is you can get to and find places you didn’t know you needed to get to.
For anyone planning to cook a few of their own meals even if it’s just some steaks on the Condo complex’s grills then you’ll need a car for grocery shopping. You can also save a small fortune by buying a few cocktail ingredients to make your own rather than paying $15 for a Mai Tai!
Car hire isn’t cheap on the island, nor is gas (for Americans that is, visitors from outside the US will be shocked how cheap it is) but then it’s not prohibitively expensive either. Basically Hiring a car has so many benefits that from a cost-saving perspective it normally saves more than not hiring.
For some, however, it just is not an option. You may not drive, or may not be comfortable driving in unfamiliar territories or you may struggle to get insurance (under 25’s), for whatever reason, if hiring a car is out, then read on as there are ways around it.
You may also find this guide useful for when you have a Hire Car but it needs to stay safely parked up at the Hotel/Condo…We are thinking Luau nights or hitting a happy hour hard, the police take drink driving very seriously, as in most places! We always hire a car but there are occasions where we need to leave the car at the resort.
The island does not have a massive public transportation infrastructure. Really, It’s the bus or nothing. There are fairly limited bus routes available, but they do manage to cover the majority of the island’s inhabited areas. Another result of the lightly populated nature of the island. When there are only a few major roads there only needs to be a few major bus routes.
Prices are very cheap a one-way trip is a mere £2 and an all-day pass only $4 Not much on Maui can be considered cheap but the bus service certainly is.
In the past, West Maui was a bit of a pain if you wanted to go past Kaanapali as it was two services. So a trip from the Airport was 3 buses, fortunately, this route from Lahaina to Kapalua is now a single bus so getting from the Airport to Napili or Kapalua is a lot simpler.
While the bus is not everyone’s idea of a Luxury exotic getaway it does provide a cheap reliable service to get you where you need to be. If you are planning on using it for evenings out It’s important to check return times as they don’t always run very late.
They don’t take too kindly to you taking a large amount of luggage either, any more than one case and we would consider using alternate means. Really even if the bus driver doesn’t mind, hauling that much luggage on the bus seems too much like hard work to us! Surfboards are banned too which probably annoys locals more than tourists, but keep it in mind if you are heading to the beach!
Note: For pricing from here on in we have used Airport runs to Kaanapali and Wailea as examples, these are fairly typical and give a good idea of what it costs for certain distances. Expect to pay more than the Kaanapali Price if you are heading up to Napili/Kapalua, West Maui, or less than the Wailea Prices if you are staying in Kihei.
Of course, taxis are available all over the Island but in more remote places they are pretty few and far between. Taxi ranks don’t really exist on the island apart from the airport, and as such the only real way to hail a taxi is by ringing, A pain for us as we don’t have a US Mobile. We tend to use the concierge service at our hotel/condo to book us a taxi and then organize with the driver for pick up later. As we only use taxis for evenings out this normally works quite well. However, at very busy times such as the 4th of July, for example, it can be very tricky indeed to get picked up!
On top of this Taxi’s are not cheap. Probably the most expensive taxi’s we have used
Any Taxi company will happily arrange a pick-up from the airport to your hotel or vice versa. Expect to pay around $90-100 to Kaanapali or $70-80 to Wailea. We find using a taxi company based in the area you are stating tends to work out cheaper. Don’t use a south Maui company for an airport pickup if you are staying in West Maui for example.
Maui Taxi Numbers
- CB Maui Taxi Service (Central) – (808) 243-8294
- Maui Airport and Taxi (Central) – (808) 877-2002
- West Maui Taxi (West) – 808-661-1122
- A South Maui Taxi (South) – (808) 874-1866
Uber now has a presence in Maui and this can save considerable amounts over traditional taxis. The problem with Uber on Maui is the cell service is not always what it is on the Mainland. While with a traditional taxi, you can always call from a bar or restaurant’s phone With Uber if you are caught without reception then you are stuck, this is more of an issue in the more remote parts of the island.
Expect to pay around $65-75 to Kaanapali or $35-40 to Wailea
As far as getting to and from the airport there are a number of shuttle services. And this would be our second choice option (after a hire car). They do represent a big cost saving over a private taxi.
We are not always fans of Shuttle services as they can take far longer than they should as you need to wait for the van to fill up and then stop at seemingly everyone but your hotel first. But in Maui where most people are going in either one of two directions, they really work ok. And the savings are significant. Under $25 per person will get you to Wailea and $35 for Kaanapali.
For the most part, walking is out of the question. Even closely located communities are pretty far apart. The lack of densely populated areas makes the island seem so much wilder and tropical but it means to get anywhere it’s a good journey, Walking is limited to enjoyment (hiking) and getting around individual towns.
Sorry if this seems obvious but for a lot of US cities we actually recommend walking as one of the primary methods of getting about. But on an island such as Maui, it just doesn’t work.
A great way to get out and about without a car is to take an organized tour. These show you the best the island has to offer and can really help get you out of the resort. While Maui’s resorts are truly paradise it is always good to get a change of scene even if the original scene is pure heaven.
Many tours exist to get you out and see just about anything Maui has to offer. If you want to see it Chances are someone who will offer a tour. While this is certainly not a cheap way to see the island it will get you first-hand knowledge of all the best sights and locations on the island.
Road to Hana / Haleakala
For some even with a Hire Car, The long winding road to Hana can be too much and the steep twisty ascent up Haleakala is just too far out of their comfort zone. Again tours can be organized to get you to these slightly more out-of-the-way destinations, while you sit back and enjoy the ride.
Have Your Say
Let us know your experiences of Getting around Maui without a car? What method did you use? Taxi’s all the way or did you try the bus? Let us know if you have any questions or if you want help getting somewhere in particular.