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Can You Drive to Hawaii from Mainland United States?

Hawaii is unique, as it’s the only archipelago in the United States, consisting of eight major islands, and famous for beaches filled with white, green, and red sand, active volcanoes, and hiking trails, inspiring a sense of wonder.

As Hawaii is a US State, it makes sense to question if driving to Hawaii from the US mainland is possible.

Hawaii is an archipelago of 8 main islands located in the Pacific Ocean. It’s 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from the U.S. mainland, and there aren’t land connections to the islands, so you can’t drive there.

To get to Hawaii, nonstop flights are available from 27 mainland US cities. Once on the island, you can rent a car. You can travel between islands via helicopter, passenger ferry, or boat.

Driving between Islands

There aren’t any land connections between the 8 major Hawaiian Islands, therefore, you can’t drive between them.

There used to be a car ferry service that ran between islands but has now ceased operation since 2016, and the only way to travel between them is via plane.

The only ferries available between islands are passenger ferries between Maui and Molokai and Maui and Lanai. 

Can you ship your car to Hawaii?

Car ferries don’t operate from the Mainland US to Hawaii, so it’s not possible for you to board a ferry with your car. 

However, it’s possible to ship your car from the US mainland to Hawaii, and car freight services are readily available, but it will generally cost you between $1,500-$2,000, so it’s only advisable if you’re moving there.

You’ll find plenty of options to ship your car, and it’s advised to take the time to enquire with different companies about their method of shipping and to get the best price available. 

Renting a car in Hawaii

Public transport around the Hawaiian Islands is limited, so renting a car is highly advised if you’re planning to visit many places. 

It’s best to be prepared when you arrive at the rental car office, as this will save you time and fuss. Agencies can differ in their requirements, so calling them and finding out what they need in advance is advisable.

Prices for vehicle rentals greatly vary, from as low as $25 all the way up to $150 a day. 

General guidelines for renting a car are as follows:

  • If you’re an American citizen, you must provide a valid US license that matches the name on the rental agreement.
  • International travelers must show a driver’s license written in English or present their international license alongside their home country passport. 
  • For licenses not written in English, you’ll need to obtain an international driver’s permit, and obtaining the forms can be a lengthy process, so if this is the case for you, then it’s best to start preparing for this a month in advance of your trip. 
  • You must be at least 18 years old to rent a car in Hawaii, but some agencies will require you to be over the age of 21, and in some cases, being under 25 is classed as a younger driver, and you’re charged more and restricted to rent certain vehicle types.
  • Renting a car seat for your child can cost $50 for your visit, so if you can bring your own, money will be saved.
  • There are no toll roads in Hawaii, so you can tick this expense off of the list.
  • If your plan is to only travel only in the vicinity of your hotel resort, such as in between beaches, then uber rides might be a cheaper option, as renting a car can be pricey in Hawaii.
  • Multi-island rental packages aren’t available, but some companies operate on multiple islands.

Driving spots in Hawaii 

Hanauma Bay

Located along the southeast coast of the Island of Oʻahu, Hanauma Bay is one of the best places to see marine life.

The park is closed Tuesdays, so to view the clearest waters, arrive early on Wednesday. Parking here can be hard unless you arrive before 6 am or in the afternoon. 

Road to Hana

This famous drive is located on the island of Maui, which is the second-largest of the islands. This is the ultimate Hawaii driving experience, and a 64.4-mile-long (103.6 km) stretch renowned for its stunning coastal scenery.

It is a taxing drive, including difficult traversing, 100s of narrow curves, and 1-lane bridges, so expect a 3-4 hour drive time.  

Careful preparation is advised before you set off on this drive. As for safety purposes, it’s best to travel at your own pace and plan to take rest stops at one of the many locations en route, such as the Hanawi Falls and other scenic areas. 

Pearl Harbor

Located West of Honolulu, and rich in American history, Pearl Harbor is an American lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, and the infamous site that led the United States into World War II.

There is a sunken battleship to see, alongside historic sites, and a 75-minute memorial program that includes a 23-minute documentary film and a boat ride. Parking at the visitor center is free of charge. 

Kualoa Ranch

Located approximately 24 miles from Honolulu, Kualoa Ranch is a 4,000-acre private nature reserve is the famous backdrop to films such as Jurassic Park.

From here you can rent a kayak and explore the blue waters of Kaneohe Bay, and kayak out to Mokoli’i Island (otherwise known as Chinaman’s Hat). Parking at Kualoa Ranch is free and straightforward.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Located on Hawaii Island (the largest of the Islands), at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you can explore the Island’s active volcanoes via a Volcano Sightseeing Tour, including misty rainforests and flowing lava.

Visiting the park by car is easy to do, but parking here can fill up quickly, so it’s best to arrive early to grab a space, or choose another destination and try again another time of day. 


Hawaii is a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean, and the only method of travel there is via flight.

If you’re planning on moving to one of the islands from the US mainland, then it’s possible to ship your car there via various freight services, but this is expensive and not a viable option for vacation travelers.

Once on the Island, it’s possible to rent a car, but it’s not possible to take a car ferry between the islands, so you’ll need a new car rental agreement for each island you plan to drive on.

It’s well worth it, though, as Hawaii is a paradise, flowing with charm, just waiting to be explored.