About Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
Address: Off - Airport, 3179 North Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, 96819, Hi, Hawaii
Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) is the primary entry point to the island of Oahu and one of the world’s busiest airports. Situated 5 miles (8 km) northwest of downtown Honolulu and 10 miles (16 km) from Waikiki Beach, (HNL) gets rave reviews for ease of navigation, starting with its airport car rental depots located in the baggage claim areas of both terminals. New arrivals will find six major car hire agencies on-site (including Avis, Hertz, and National), with a range of other providers just a short shuttle bus ride from the terminals.
Oahu is the kind of place where locals have all the best information, and locals say the best way to experience Honolulu, Waikiki, and surrounding destinations is to rent a car. Getting around in Oahu is relatively easy, although traffic in Honolulu is comparable to what you’d find in any major city. Be forewarned that speed limits in Oahu are usually lower than those in the continental U.S. and all traffic violations in general are strictly enforced.
Oahu is a relatively small island but most of the prime destinations are spread out across the coastline, which makes having a car almost a necessity. For example, two of Hawaii’s most iconic attractions — Pearl Harbor and Waimea Beach — are roughly 30 miles (48 km) apart on opposite sides of the island.
Choosing your car
Price is a big factor to consider when choosing your car, but travel itinerary will determine the right vehicle for you. Parking lots in downtown Honolulu were designed for Ford and Kia compact and mid-size cars. If you’re planning a trip to the North Shore, BMW and Chrysler full-size premium luxury cars are ideal for highway driving. For off-road and mountain driving, a Toyota SUV has all-wheel drive and plenty of room for baggage. Hawaii is a fantastic spot for a Ford Mustang convertible. And for beach getaways, a Nissan 7-9 seater minivan has plenty of room for passengers.
Tips and advice
Many (HNL) airport car rental firms have a strict minimum age requirement — you must be 25 years old to rent a car. Ask about underage policies, if applicable.
The crime rate in Hawaii is fairly low — all things considered — but petty theft and burglary are a problem in areas with heavy tourism traffic. Never leave personal belongings in your car hire, regardless of locks, tinted windows, or alarm system.
Honolulu has an online parking search system that you can use to find parking spots in all city structures, as well as directions and rates.
It’s possible to walk off the plane and rent a car at (HNL) but reserving in advance will guarantee your vehicle. During peak tourist seasons, cars sell out quickly.
You’ll need a valid driver’s license from your home country or state — in English, or an International Driver’s Permit to operate a vehicle in Hawaii.
One brilliant budget-minded local tip is to rent a car from (HNL) for a day trip and return it at night — only to rent another car for the next excursion. Renting on an as-needed basis in Oahu takes a lot of the hassle out of parking. Public transportation to and from the airport is relatively quick and painless.