After over 20 vacations to Maui and now living on Maui, I recommend renting a car when visiting the Valley Isle. A rental car will pay for itself if you visit 3 Maui attractions on a 7-day trip.

You need to rent a car in Maui to save money and time. A rental car will pay for itself compared to taking Uber or taxis if you visit attractions like Haleakala National Park, snorkeling, or dinner in Lahaina. Maui Bus offers an economical way to get around with $2 fares but buses leave every hour.

Read on for tips on 

  • When you need and don’t need a rental car on Maui
  • Tips on saving money on your rental car
  • Estimate the cost of transport per your Maui itinerary
  • Tips to get around Maui if you opt-out of a rental car

When You Need a Rental Car on Maui

A rental car is necessary on Maui when you are planning on seeing all the island has to offer. Since Maui is such a large island, taking taxis or Ubers becomes prohibitively expensive compared to getting a rental car. 

Taking 2 to 4 trips from your hotel to Maui’s top destinations will justify having a rental car for your entire stay. A rental car also gives you flexibility and freedom to explore the island.

The average car rental cost on Maui for a standard car is $60/day. 

During the peak holiday periods, you can expect to pay $185/day. 

Due to the distance from the popular resort locations to the top attractions on Maui, a rental car will most likely be cheaper than taking UberX and faster than Maui Bus.  

The best places to stay on Maui are Ka’anapali on the west side and Wailea on the south side. From these locations, renting a car is a must to save money compared to taking a taxi, Uber, or Lyft. 

If you are planning a trip for less than a week, then I recommend renting a car so you are not spending your time waiting for a bus or hotel shuttle. Maximize your time seeing the grandeur of the island instead of sitting on the bus.

If driving the Road to Hana is your only large excursion, then you can consider renting a car for the day from rental places just outside your hotel in Ka’anapali, Wailea, or Kihei. Pick up a car for the day instead of parking your rental car for most of the week. 

The same big brand rental companies have satellite offices around the island. This will save you time from going back to the airport car rental companies. 

Visiting Maui on a Budget or During the Holidays

There are ways to have a great vacation on Maui without a rental car. Here is a Maui vacation strategy If you are on a budget or visiting during the holidays when rental car prices are astronomically high.

To not rent a car, I recommend you take the Roberts Hawaii airport shuttle bus to and from your hotel. Stay in an area with a good walking score like Ka’anapali, Lahaina, or Kihei. Kihei is the best for budget hotels and condos and walking distance to beaches, shopping, and local eats.

From these locations, you can easily jump on free hotel shuttles or Maui Bus to get around to local restaurants and shopping. If you want a day trip for snorkeling, then take an UberX or the bus. 

We had to do this when we forgot to book our car when we came out for Christmas. Everything was sold out but we still had a great time on Maui without a car.

Roberts Hawaii rental car alternative

Roberts Hawaii bus dropping off passengers for whale watching in Lahaina Wharf. Roberts is a good alternative to getting a rental car.

Calculate if a Rental Car in Maui is Best for Your Itinerary

Everyone’s trip to Maui will be different. Deciding if you need a car will depend on your itinerary. 

For example, if you are staying 5 nights on your honeymoon at the Grand Wailea Maui then you may never want to leave. Seeing the sunrise on Haleakala and dinner at Momma’s Fish House may be the only excursions you don’t want to miss. 

Then, should you rent a car on Maui?

Use the tables below to estimate the cost of taking taxis or Ubers compared to renting a car. Add up the cost of each round-trip and compare that to renting a car for your stay on Maui. 

Using the honeymooners in Wailea as an example, this is how you can determine if you need a rental car in Maui. If they stay 5 days then a standard rental car will cost $60/day x 5 days = $300. Plus gas and assuming no cost for parking at their hotel, let’s estimate $350. 

If they don’t rent a car, taking a shuttle bus to their Wailea hotel (budget trip) will cost them $20 roundtrip per person x 2 people = $40. They are planning on going to Haleakala and Momma’s Fish House so roundtrips on UberX will cost $116 and $94. Total for getting around Maui without a rental car is $40 + $116 + $94= $250. 

The honeymooners can save around $100 by not getting a rental car. If they took one additional excursion, then a rental car would pay for itself.

Should I Rent a Car in Maui When Staying in Ka’anapali?

Cost estimates from Ka’anapali to top Maui destinations (round-trip)

01-November-2019

Prices calculated from vendors online tools and Maui Bus timetables

TheHawaiiVacationGuide.com

DestinationUberXLyft

Taxi 

(tip not included)

Nakalele Blowhole$122$76$60
Lahaina Town$46$28$36
Kihei, HI$110$110$172
Pa’ai for lunch at Momma’s Fish House$142$150$210
Haleakala National Park$220$220$314
Kula Coffee Plantation$180$200$268
Maui Pineapple Tours$144$150$214

Should I Rent a Car in Maui When Staying in Wailea?

Cost estimates from Wailea to top Maui destinations (round-trip)

01-November-2019

Prices calculated from vendors online tools and Maui Bus timetables

TheHawaiiVacationGuide.com

DestinationUberXLyftTaxi
Makena Beach$26$28$52
Kihei$36$40$40
Lahaina Town$120$126$178
Pa’ai for lunch at Momma’s Fish House$94$96$146
Haleakala National Park$116$180$252
A Kula Coffee Plantation$64$130$190
Maui Pineapple Tours$96$110$146

The above fare estimates are roundtrip costs. I took the one-way cost and doubled it. 

For simplicity, I’m using these two central locations to give a quick and easy estimate of taking alternative modes of transit compared to hiring a rental car.

Most people visiting Maui, especially for the first time, stay in Ka’anapali or Wailea. Ka’anapali is on the west side of Maui in the same area as Lahaina, Kahana, and Napili-Honokowai. Wailea is on the south side of Maui near the large and popular town of Kihei.

If the destinations listed in the tables are not on your itinerary, they are most likely near a place that is on your itinerary. I don’t list beaches but you can estimate costs as these routes will take you past the popular snorkeling beaches.

Related articles:

Estimated Fares From and To Maui Kahului Airport (OGG)

If you have no intention of leaving your resort or condo then you will not need a rental car. 

There may be more than enough to keep you relaxed and entertained at your resort. Renting a car is not needed as a taxi or shuttle to Wailea will cost $20 per person for a shuttle roundtrip, up to $120 roundtrip for a taxi. 

From the airport to Kaanapali or Lahaina will cost $20 per person for a shuttle round-trip, up to $180 for a taxi.  

Should I Rent a Car In Maui if I’m Not Leaving the Resort?

01-November-2019

Fares are for a roundtrip from and to the Kahului Airport (OGG), the tip is not included. The price for shuttles is per person.

TheHawaiiVacationGuide.com

Mode of TransportAirport to WaileaAirport to Ka’anapali
Taxi (tip not included)$120$180
UberX$80$125
Lyft$70$130
Roberts Hawaii Shuttle Bus$20$20
SpeediShuttle (shared service)$45$62

Check out Roberts Hawaii Maui Airport Shuttle for additional information on pricing and to book a trip.

I haven’t tried SpeediShuttle but they offer a similar shared service (aka, carpool) on a smaller shuttle bus. 

Average Cost of a Rental Car on Maui

To estimate if a rental car is worth it for your itinerary, I’m using a standard-sized car with pick up and drop off from the main airport, Kahului Airport during non-holiday periods.

The average price for standard car rental on Maui during normal travel periods (e.g., February, July, October) is $60 per day. There is a range of $40 a day to $80 per day so using $40 a day for your cost estimate may be a better figure.

Booking a car over Thanksgiving or Christmas is expensive. The average cost for a standard car is $185 per day in 2019 during the holidays. 

If you are traveling around the holidays, do some research on your itinerary to determine if the day excursions you take justify getting a rental car for your stay.

Tips to Save Money When Renting a Car on Maui

Tip #1. Find Free Hotel Parking

When booking your hotel, make sure they offer free self-parking for the duration of your stay. 

Many of the top hotels on the island such as The Westin Maui in Ka’anapali and the Fairmount Kea Loni in Wailea include free parking. Make free self-parking a must when booking your hotel to keep your costs down.

Tip 2. Best Discount Car Rental Booking Sites

When we travel to neighboring islands, we book our car with Discount Hawaii Car Rental. We have found them to be significantly cheaper than other car rental booking sites for Hawaii while providing quality cars.

Costco Car Rentals is another good discount site for booking your car rental on Maui. 

Tip 3. Refill Your Rental Car Tank at Costco

Gas in the Hawaiian Islands is expensive. At the time of writing, the average price is $3.90 per gallon. 

You can save when you top off the tank or during your trip by filling up at Costco in Kahului. A perfect place to fill up as it is next to the airport and at the start of the Road to Hana. Costco gas price at the time of writing is $3.10. 

That’s $.80 per gallon cheaper!

The Safeway gas station at 1090 Ho’okele, Kahului is also a great deal at $3.17 per gallon. This is also near the airport entrance and on the way to Hana Highway.

Tip 4. Try a Maui Rent-A-Wreck Company

When we moved to Maui, we rented from a rent-a-wreck company. We wanted a low-cost, large rental car plus we were looking to buy from them after our rental. 

They picked us up from the airport and we could pick the car we wanted from their lot. It was super easy and added a little bit of adventure to the trip. Most of these rent-a-wreck companies on the island purchase used rental cars from the big brand rental car companies so they are good cars, for the most part.

We had a good experience and we drove 3 of their cars during the week to test them out. There was a customer there returning a car that broke down on him. He wasn’t happy but they quickly swapped out cars for him. 

I recommend Kahului Auto Rentals and Kihei Rent a Car when you are looking for a low-cost rental car and don’t mind a few dents and dirt on the car.

What Is It Like to Drive on Maui?

Driving on Maui is similar to driving on the mainland. The views are just a tad bit more jaw-dropping in beauty.

Maui roads are in excellent condition and the drivers are considerate. The locals will always wave you in. 

The only difference is people drive slower because you are now on island time. This is the only place I’ve been where they have minimum speed limit signs. 

The Road to Hana (Hana Highway) and the Kahekili Highway (goes around the west side of Maui) used to be treacherous but they have been upgraded over the years to be safe and reliable in any car. 

When You Don’t Need a Rental Car on Maui

Your vacation to Maui may not require a rental car. If you are planning on relaxing at your resort or condo, then a rental car may be overkill. 

Many condos in Kihei are walking distance to the Kihei shopping centers with the beach outside your condo.

Wailea offers the Shops at Wailea for shopping and dining in the middle of the row of resorts. Wailea also has a nice walking path along the ocean connecting all the resorts making it easy to walk to dinner. 

Ka’anapali is the same, the beachfront footpath connects all of the hotels along Kaanapali Beach allowing you to walk uninterrupted from Canoe Beach to Black Rock.

Many of the big resort areas offer free shuttles between hotels or local shopping centers. If you are not planning on making big excursions from your part of the island, then a blend of free hotel shuttles with Uber rides may be all you need to get around.

The Most Cost-Effective Way to Get Around Maui Without a Rental Car

If your goal is to keep your costs down on a trip to Maui or you’d prefer to spend your money on fine dining over a rental car, then this is how you do it.

Take Roberts Hawaii charter bus or another airport shared shuttle service to and from your hotel. Stay in an area with a good walking score like Ka’anapali, Lahaina, or Kihei. 

From these locations, you can easily jump on free hotel shuttles or Maui Bus to get around to local restaurants and shopping. If you want a day trip for snorkeling, then take an UberX or the bus. 

This is a great way to get a great Maui experience without having to pay for a rental car.

Get a Feel of a Local Maui Town

Perhaps you’ve been to Maui a few times. Now you want to stay in Lahaina, Kula, Pa’ia, or another town to get a feel of the culture. These towns are walkable for your dining, shopping, and beach or hiking plans. Hop on the  Maui Bus to really get the experience of living like a local.

Options to Travel Around Maui Without a Rental Car

Maui towns do not score well on walking. Only a few towns like Lahaina, Kihei, and Pa’ia are easily walkable. Even if you are staying in these towns, you will want to venture out to see other beaches, restaurants, and sites. 

If you decide not to rent, here is how you can get around.

Uber, Lyft, and Taxis on Maui

Uber and Lyft are now in all the major tourist areas of Maui. We live on the west side and Uber makes going to the bars in Lahaina a far cheaper night out. 

Taxis are clean and prevalent all over the island. Give them a call for a traditional taxi ride to wherever you need to go.

These services make jaunts from your hotel for shopping and dining more cost-effective. Plus, you avoid parking fees.

Maui Taxis rental car alternative

Taxis lined up at Lahaina Wharf, waiting for Whale Watchers to head to their resort or condo.

Maui Bus Public Transit System

Maui Bus has a robust network of bus routes across the island. The Maui Bus Public Transit System is reliable with buses coming every hour for major routes. With a boarding fare of $2.00 per person, it is far cheaper to take the bus than any other mode of transport.

Check out the Maui Bus Route Maps and the Maui Bus Schedules for details when planning your trip.

Once you arrive in Maui, download the Maui Bus App to track your bus in real-time and get arrival predictions. 

Rent Mopeds on Maui

An alternative to renting a car is to rent a moped. Many may laugh at this option but the perfect weather, good roads, low cost, and having an adventure on a Hawaiian vacation make renting a moped a fun idea.

Most Maui Moped rentals start at $50 per day. 

Our friends rented mopeds in lieu of a rental car when they came out on holiday. They did it to save money and said they would do it again. Though, they did get freaked out driving on the highways on a vehicle with a top speed of 30 MPH.  

You can drive a moped without a motorcycle license if the moped is 50cc or less. You cannot carry 2 people on a 50cc moped legally so 2 are required if you bring a partner. 

With a max speed of 30 MPH, you are required to drive on the bike lanes on the Hawaii Highways. Highways are mostly 2 lane roads on Maui but they get busy. If you are going to an activity like hiking or a good snorkel beach away from your hotel or condo, you will need to get on a highway. 

If the moped option excites you then I recommend staying in Lahaina, Kihei, or Kaanapali. These locations give you the most places to go with safe roads to get there on a moped. 

Read about Hawaii Moped Law FAQs and know your skill level on a moped before you go.  

There are a lot of moped companies around the resorts to choose from so you can make the decision after you land. 

Hotel Shuttles on Maui

Many of the hotels offer free shuttles to move people between hotels or to local towns and shopping centers. Check your hotel when booking to see if they offer a free shuttle. If you are not planning on making big excursions from your part of the island, then a blend of free hotel shuttles with Uber rides may be all you need to get around.

Kapalua, on the northwest side of Maui, offers a free shuttle between resorts in the area.

The resorts in Wailua all offer complimentary shuttles to transport you around Wailua for golfing, shopping, and dining.

Our Favorite Transportation Deals

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Jordan Fromholz

Jordan Fromholz

Author

I'm the co-founder, with my wife Erica, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I have a thing for photographing pineapples and learning to surf.

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