Are you planning a trip to Maui but not that interested in driving? Well the good news is that there are ways you can see Maui without a car. Once you know where to base yourself and that you don’t need your own wheels, there are so many different activities at your finger tips.
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- The best things to do in Maui
Tips on saving money you need to know about
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How To Travel Maui Without A Rental Car
If you were on Maui during the travel quarantine period of 2020, the images of 20,000 rental cars sitting vacant in the fields outside the airport are likely ingrained in your memory. Likewise, if you visited Maui in 2021, the outrageous prices for a rental vehicle are probably forever embedded in your mind and your wallet.
After many months left stagnating in the fields, thousands of rentals were slowly shipped to the mainland to be sold. Then, as travel picked up and arrivals neared pre-pandemic levels, the Great Rental Car Shortage of 2021 ensued.
Many people insist on renting a car while on Maui. While we don’t discourage it, anything can happen in these trying times – from absurdly high rental prices to last-minute cancellations. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not impossible to see the island without a car.
In fact, plenty of fantastic local companies are happy to pick you up at your hotel or condo and share the island with you. With the help of rideshare apps like Uber, Lyft, or Hawaii’s own Holoholo, exploring Maui without a car has never been easier.
What to Know Before You Go
- If you don’t plan to rent a car, staying in the Ka’anapali, Lahaina, Kihei, or Wailea areas will make your travels much more manageable. These are the busy tourist areas and are a rideshare driver’s goldmine. There are usually plenty of rideshares available during the day. Check out Maui Accommodations for inexpensive, excellent vacation rentals.
- If you have to be somewhere at a particular time, consider scheduling a ride in advance or having your hotel or resort book a taxi for you.
- If you’re on a budget, the Maui Bus is a good option for getting around the south and west sides.
- For the latest updates on Maui, traveling to the islands, and the car rental situation, check out the Aloha 360 podcast. Aloha 360 is run by two south Maui residents with their thumb on the pulse of island travel.
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE
Find out how you can plan an amazing 5 days in Maui with this detailed itinerary.
Activities You Can Do in Maui Without A Car
Snorkeling, Whale Watching, and Dinner Cruises
Spending some time on the ocean is a must-do on Maui, whether it’s in the form of a whale watch, snorkel excursion, or relaxing dinner cruise. Whale watching is seasonal, but dinner cruises and snorkel tours run year-round. When it comes to spending time at sea, a car is the last thing you need. Many of Maui’s best boat tours are ultra-accessible, with or without a vehicle.
If you’re staying in Kihei, consider a jaunt to Molokini with Redline Rafting. Redline is an esteemed snorkel tour company operating out of Kihei Boat Ramp. Nestled between the popular beaches of Kamaole III and Keawakepu, numerous resorts, hotels, and condos are within walking distance of the boat ramp.
Further down the road in Wailea at Maluaka Beach, you’ll find Kai Kanani. The relaxed environment aboard this sailing catamaran is perfect for whale watching and sipping local brews from Maui Brewing- especially if you’re not driving. Kai Kanani offers hotel transfer.
Over on the west side, the golden shores of Ka’anapali are home to a myriad of resorts and ocean activities. For those staying in Ka’anapali, a snorkel/sailing trip around the west side with Trilogy is a no-brainer. This tour departs right from the sand at Ka’anapali Beach. Joining this excursion is as easy as rolling out of bed, walking down the sand, and climbing aboard.
Last but certainly not least, Hawaii Ocean Project offers a fantastic dinner cruise aboard their spacious 70-foot double-decker, another great option for those in Maui without a car. This excursion departs out of the tour boat nucleus of Lahaina Harbor, smack dab in the middle of Lahaina Town. There are several hotels within walking distance. You should have no trouble hailing an Uber, Lyft, Holoholo, or taxi in this area.
Out of all the beauty on Maui, sunrise at Haleakala takes the top spot. Each morning at dawn, the orange orb of the sun fills the crater with light. As the sun rays reach the floor of the basin, warm hues glitter of the volcanic sand. Due to the parks reservation system instituted in 2017, this spectacle is now reserved for a lucky few.
Even with a car, watching the sunrise here is not guaranteed- sunrise tickets are elusive and sell out within mere seconds. Fortunately, there are reliable tour companies who not only ensure a spot at sunrise but will also transport you from your accommodation to the summit.
Haleakala Ecotours are known as a respected tour company that offer sunrise tours and transportation. Haleakala Ecotours explores the north shore post sunrise before heading back to your accommodation. This is a great way to enjoy a full day on Maui without a car.
Maui’s North West Side: Napili, Honolua, Kahakuloa
If you’re staying on the West Side, getting to the beaches of Napili and Kahana are very easy via the Maui Bus or rideshare apps. However, once you pass Kapalua, there are no bus routes and little to no cell reception to hail a ride. Some of Maui’s most alluring marvels lie past the last hotel in Kapalua, like the resplendent Honolua Bay, Olivine Pools, and the Kahakuloa Head. This poses a problem for vehicle-less explorers. The only way to experience this area is via car.
All is not lost, though. Hoaloha Jeep Adventures acts as a personal chauffeur/tour guide for visitors to this remote coast. Wherever you might be staying on the island, Hoaloha will pick you up at your accommodation and help you explore the best hidden gems in the area.
Another recourse when it comes to exploring Maui without a car comes in the form of Helewai Eco Tours. Helewai Eco Tours shares a secluded patch of rainforest near Honolua Bay with its guests. This tour has access to a two-mile trail through private conservation land, usually unseen by visitors. The trail leads to the top of Pu’u Kukui Preserve in the West Maui Mountains. Here, there is a lookout with sweeping views of conserved rainforest that few have laid eyes on. The hike ends at Honolua Bay, where you can go for a dip and take in the colors of the corals glimmering under the surface.
The Helewai Eco Tours base yard is located across the street from the Napili Marketplace, easily accessible by rideshare or even the Maui Bus. From there, a van will transport you directly to the trailhead.
Road to Hana
Some visitors insist that they drive the road to Hana themselves. But we’ll let you in on a little secret- having someone else drive is so much better. A few of the companies we mentioned above also run Hana tours and specialize in doing all the hard work for you. Haleakala Ecotours is an exceptional choice.
Their Road to Hana tour includes entry to Waianapanapa State Park (which also requires reservations) and Kahanu Gardens, home to the largest heiau in all of Hawaii. Hoaloha Jeep Adventures also drives this route and can escort you places in a 4×4 Jeep that plain ol’ rental cars can’t usually access. Both companies will happily pick you up at your accommodation.
Straying from the traditional a bit- this next option for seeing the Road to Hana involves no form of driving at all. You will be behind the wheel, but not of a car.
Fly Maui offers a unique opportunity to take your first lesson in flight school out of Kahului Airport. You’ll learn the ins and outs of piloting and even fly to – you guessed it – Hana. The flight only takes about an hour round trip, and you’ll see all of the road to Hana’s most famous sites, like Keanae Peninsula, Waianapapa, and countless waterfalls. This is certainly one way to ensure you never forget your “road” to Hana experience. Fly Maui is located near the heliport at OGG, easily accessible by rideshare.
A significant pro to not renting a car is that you can let the cocktails flow. There is no need to sacrifice wine for water when no one is getting behind the wheel. At Island Art Party, beverages are at your disposal, and cocktail-sipping is encouraged.
This is Maui’s most fun art class, where you can grab a drink and paint a masterpiece. If no one has to drive, no one is left out of the fun. Island Art Party is located in the Azeka Center in Kihei. You should have no problem finding rideshare on the busy South Kihei Strip.
Speaking of letting cocktails flow, the Royal Lahaina Luau is one of Maui’s finest luaus and serves complimentary cocktails all night. There are dozens of spectacular luau celebrations to enjoy on Maui, but again, if no one has to drive, why not choose a luau with an open bar?
With the abundance of tours, rideshares, and the Maui Bus, there is no reason to scrap your Maui vacation if your car rental falls through. In fact, you’ll likely meet a ton more local people, and you’ll probably learn substantially more about the island than if you were left to your own devices.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re planning on frequenting Maui’s more populous areas- yes! Between the Maui Bus, Uber,
Holoholo, tours, and shuttles, it’s possible to get around Maui without a car. Unfortunately, services like
the Maui Bus or Uber won’t take you to rural places like Haleakala Crater or Hana. However, numerous
tour operators offer hotel pick up and drop off, like Hoaloha Jeep Adventures.
It is very easy to take the Maui Bus. However, it is best used for getting around particular regions rather
than exploring long distances. In areas like West Maui and South Maui, the Maui Bus has routes that
depart hourly and make stops at popular destinations such as Front Street and Wailea Ike Drive. The
most significant drawbacks to using the Maui Bus are that service usually stops no later than 8 pm, the
bus can be late, and it’s impossible to see another side of the island without transferring buses and
spending a chunk of your day in transit. However, if you’re on an ultra-tight budget or you have no
problem with being on island time, the Maui Bus works great. With a one-way fare of $2, it’s an
economical way to get around. You can check out detailed schedules and route maps at mauibus.org.
There are no free shuttles on Maui. However, many hotels offer free shuttles for their guests. For
example, the Westin Resort, the Westin KOR, and Sheraton Resort in Ka’anapali provide a free shuttle
that runs to Lahaina, with designated stops at Lahaina Cannery Mall, the Lahaina Outlets, and The
Wharf Cinema Center. Some hotels also offer free airport transfers.
It is possible to rent mopeds or bikes. However, Maui’s infrastructure is not very bike-friendly. Like the
Maui Bus, mopeds can be an easy way to get around a particular region, but it’s not recommended for
long distances. Many of Maui’s roads are busy with little to no shoulders and aren’t well lit at night- not
exactly safe for mopeds.
The best place to stay without a car on Maui is either the Westin Resort or the Sheraton Resort in
Ka’anapali. Countless restaurants, a lovely beach, snorkeling, and the Whaler’s Village Shopping Center
are within walking distance of both resorts. As we mentioned above, both the Westin and the Sheraton
offer shuttle services to Lahaina. Plus, between the public bus and Uber, it’s possible to explore the
entire West Side of the island with one of these Ka’anapali resorts as your home base.
Ka’anapali is the most walkable place on Maui. There are countless dining and shopping opportunities a
stone’s throw away from most Ka’anapali resorts, and numerous activities take place/depart from
Ka’anapali beach- namely sunset cruises, snorkeling, surf lessons, and parasailing adventures. Wailea is
a close second, with a walking path connecting seven resorts, numerous restaurants, and several
beaches. The Shops of Wailea, a large shopping center, is also centrally located to most Wailea resorts.
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