When planning a trip to Hawaii, the North Shore of Oahu is a must-visit destination for its stunning beaches, scenic drives, and laid-back atmosphere. But if you’re staying in Waikiki, you might wonder how to get from there to the North Shore. In this guide, I’ll detail all of the different transportation options and provide you with helpful tips about how to get from Waikiki to the North Shore of Oahu.
BEST RENTAL CAR COMPANY IN HAWAII
GETTING FROM WAIKIKI NORTH SHORE
There are four main options for getting from Waikiki to North Shore. The best option is obviously to have a rental car but if that isn’t practical for you, there are a few other options worth considering. I’ll list them here and then give a detailed overview of each transportation option below.
- Shuttle Service
- Private Transfer
- Rental Car
- The Bus
- Guided Tour
Option 1: Shuttle Services
Another option is to book a shuttle service from Waikiki to the North Shore. Several companies offer shuttle services, including Wildlife Hawaii. These services can be more convenient and comfortable than public transportation, however, they do usually have set departures unless you book a private shuttle. Wildlife Hawaii has the cheapest rates of 2023 and you can easily book online for a $45 return journey from Waikiki to Haleiwa. It’s definitely the best way to get from Waikiki to the North Shore if you don’t have a car and aren’t a fan of the local bus.
The issue with booking a shuttle service is that once you are up on the North Shore, you are limited in your movements. For example, the shuttle will drop you in Haleiwa but then you are kind of stuck in that town without the option to explore the North Shore. Once you understand that most of the attractions are scattered along the entire coast and you can’t walk to them all, you may be a bit disappointed. If you just want to shop, eat, and check out Haleiwa Town, the shuttle will work just fine. Most people will want to see a few beaches, and a waterfall, check out Pipeline, and find the food trucks. None of this is possible without the shuttle unless you then take a public bus on top of the shuttle, which isn’t a terrible idea.
Option 2: Private Transfers
For a more luxurious option, you can book a private transfer from Waikiki to the North Shore. Companies such as Hawaii Executive Transportation and Honolulu Airport Transfer offer private transfers in luxury vehicles such as limousines and SUVs.
- Book your Private Transfer: Waikiki to North Shore
- Book your Private Transfer: North Shore to Waikiki
Private vehicles can be more expensive than other options, with prices ranging from $150 to $300 each way. However, they offer the most comfortable and convenient way to travel, and they’re perfect for special occasions or groups traveling together. For getting to the North Shore from Waikiki, a private transfer is a bit unnecessary and I’d advise the shuttle.
Option 3: Renting a Car and driving from Waikiki to North Shore
Renting a car is one of the most popular ways to get from Waikiki to the North Shore. You can rent a car from the Honolulu International Airport, which is located just a few miles from Waikiki. Alternatively, what I always do is book a car rental more than 10 days in advance on Discover Cars for 50% off the cost of booking one at the airport in Hawaii.
Once you have your car, the drive to the North Shore takes approximately one hour, depending on traffic. The most direct route is to take H-1 West, which turns into the Kamehameha Highway. Along the way, you’ll pass by iconic landmarks such as Diamond Head and the Dole Pineapple Plantation.
Choosing to rent a car to get from Waikiki to North Shore is the best option because once you are up on the North Shore, there are lots of places you will want to visit. If you take the bus or ride a shuttle, you will be stuck in one spot once you arrive on the North Shore. The car gives you the freedom to explore lots of resorts on the beaches, waterfalls, and different eateries up on the North Shore.
Where to book a car rental in Hawaii
When considering where to book your rental from within Hawaii, there are a few options.
- Pre-book online before your arrival and pick up the car at the airport
- Pre-book online before your arrival but pick up the car downtown such as in Honolulu on Oahu (sometimes cheaper)
- Organize with a vendor in Waikiki or at your hotel (the most expensive option)
The smartest option is to pre-book your car rental and pick it up from the airport. The taxi from the airport to Waikiki as of 2022 is about $50. That is almost the price for two days of a car rental when booking online with Discover Cars.
Regardless of the location you choose, I recommend and personally use Discover Cars when hiring a car in Hawaii.
I have found Discover Cars has the cheapest Hawaii Car rentals, as well as the cheapest Hawaii driving insurance at less than $11 per day. The key is to book at least 2-3 weeks in advance for their super low rates. If you book the day before it will be much more expensive.
Option 4: Public Transportation
If you prefer not to drive, public transportation is also an option. The bus system in Honolulu is called TheBus, and it offers several routes that can take you from Waikiki to the North Shore.
The most direct route is Bus Route 52, which runs from Ala Moana Center in Waikiki to Haleiwa on the North Shore. The journey takes approximately two hours, and the bus fare is $2.75 per person each way. However, keep in mind that the bus can be crowded and may not be the most comfortable option, especially if you have children or a lot of luggage.
TheBus will definitely get you there but be prepared for a long journey. If you aren’t in a rush and are happy to put on some music and look out the window it can be enjoyable. The buses don’t always come on time and can be slow-going.
To view all of TheBus timetables and routes you can click here to visit their site.
Option 5: Guided Tour
Taking a guided tour is actually a great option for getting from Waikiki to North Shore. Not only is it almost the same price as a shuttle, but you get to stop off at all of the must-visit locations and things to do on Oahu. I’ve detailed the most popular Waikiki to North Shore Tour below, So you can know what to expect.
Waikiki: Oahu 120-Mile Full-Day Tour with Dole Plantation (Best-selling tour): The popular Circle Island tour takes you on a scenic 120-mile trip around the beautiful island of Oahu.
- Enjoy a scenic drive along the slopes of Diamond Head
- Visit Hanauma Bay, a Hawaiian Marine Preserve
- Halona Blowhole, Sandy Beach, and Makapu’u Point
- Visit Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples in Kaneohe (admission included)
- A scenic drive into the Ko’olau mountains
- See the world-famous North Shore beaches of Sunset, Banzai Pipeline
- Waimea Bay
- Stop at the Dole Plantation to try their pineapple soft-serve whip!
Click Here to check the rates and availability of this tour on the booking website.
Option 6: Moped
This option isn’t for everyone. However, it is possible to get from Waikiki to North Shore on a moped. While they aren’t allowed on the central highways, you can take the east coast perimeter road, all the way up past Kaawa and Laie to finally reach the North Shore. The journey will leave you with a sore ass and will take much longer than a car. This eastern perimeter route will take just over two hours by car, so expect that to be closer to three hours on your moped.
I’ve done this journey and would only recommend it if you plan to stay up on the North Shore for a few nights. That way, you don’t have to drive back at night on the same day for another three hours. It also means that while you are up on the North Shore, you have your moped to get around, which is the perfect transport for getting to and from beach spots up in the north.
Car rental or Uber on Oahu, Hawaii?
When considering renting a car or not in Hawaii, here’s what you need to know. If you’re thinking of spending most of your time at the resort or in Waikiki, don’t rent a car. It’s actually tough to get parking and most hotels charge $30-50 per night to park your car. The best option is to just catch a few Ubers around if you need, use the Waikiki Trolley service or rent a car through your hotel for 1-2 days of your vacation instead of the whole trip.
If you plan to explore the island and are a bit more adventurous, you might not be able to find an Uber to take you home, even if a driver has dropped you off. Most of the hikes on the island are probably a bit far to consider an Uber as a practical option. So if you’re planning a trip that takes you far away from a major tourist hub like Waikiki, Uber might not be your best option for getting around and I’d suggest a rental car. Even if you did a helicopter tour or shark-diving tour, they don’t include transport and you will have to pay for an Uber, so, in that case, would suggest booking a rental car with Discover Cars.
FAQ’S About getting from Waikiki to North Shore
- What is the best way to get from Waikiki to the North Shore? The best way to get from Waikiki to the North Shore depends on your preferences. Driving is the most convenient option, as it allows you to stop at different attractions along the way. However, if you don’t want to drive, you can take a bus or book a tour.
- How long does it take to drive from Waikiki to the North Shore? It takes about an hour to drive from Waikiki to the North Shore. However, this can vary depending on traffic conditions. It’s best to avoid rush hour traffic if possible.
- Are there any public transportation options available to travel from Waikiki to the North Shore? Yes, there are public transportation options available to travel from Waikiki to the North Shore. You can take TheBus, Oahu’s public transportation system, from Waikiki to the North Shore. The bus ride takes about 2 hours, but it’s an affordable option.
- Is it possible to rent a car in Waikiki to drive to the North Shore? Yes, it is possible to rent a car in Waikiki to drive to the North Shore. There are several car rental companies located in Waikiki, and you can book a rental car online or in person.
- What are some popular attractions to visit on the North Shore? Some popular attractions on the North Shore include the Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. You can also find several hiking trails and scenic drives in the area.
In conclusion, there are several ways to get from Waikiki to North Shore, including renting a car, taking public transportation, booking a shuttle service, or arranging a private transfer. Each option has its pros and cons, so be sure to choose the one that best fits your budget and travel preferences.
No matter which option you choose, the journey from Waikiki to North Shore is a scenic and memorable one, with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along the way. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to experience the beauty of Hawaii’s North Shore!
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the best ways to get from Waikiki to North Shore on Oahu, Hawaii
THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS
- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off) and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
- Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
- Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
- Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
- Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
- What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK
- A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII
- The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
- Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU
- Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU
- The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
- Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
- The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU