If there’s one thing I don’t like about Hawaii, it is how expensive everything is. Sure, you’re in paradise. By couldn’t it cost just a little less? Given how much Uber cost last time I visited Honolulu, I set out to find the cheapest way to get from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki.

Side note: I said I wouldn’t stay in Waikiki next time I visited. But it turns out it has the majority of the hotel options. And I wasn’t about to pay cash for some other hotel when I found perfectly good award space. So Waikiki it was. 

Before I dive into how to get to Waikiki on a budget, let’s walk through the other ways to get from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki.

Taxi

Going the traditional route may be convenient, but it won’t be cheap. You’ll find the taxi stand outside the baggage claim level. This makes easy to snag a ride to wherever you need to go. 

The meter rate for a one-way trip from HNL to Waikiki is in the $30 to $45 range. It will depend on traffic and how far into Waikiki you need to go. With tip, don’t be surprised if you drop $50 on your ride to the beach. 

There are flat rate taxi options. One of the cheapest is $33 before taxes, a hair under $40 after. After a decent tip, you’ll still be pushing $50. It’s an option, but it’s certainly not the cheapest way to get from Honolulu airport to Waikiki. 

Uber

Uber will be preferable to some for its convenience. Expect to pay $40 to $60 for a ride. The upside — as with a taxi — is that you are dropped right at your door.

Uber is a consistent option in Honolulu, but it’s not cheap. For my most recent trip to Oahu, it would have been around $50 for the one-way trip to Waikiki. Uber is an option I’d consider if there weren’t much cheaper option available.

a person holding a steering wheel

Uber is a consistent option from HNL to Waikiki. But not the cheapest.

Shared Van

If you are traveling with a large group, a shuttle van is one way to go. You can reserve shuttle rides individually, or an entire shuttle, depending on the provider.

In terms of pricing, you can find rides starting at around $15 to $20 per person for shared van service in one direction (without gratuity). Some offer a single minimum price for 1 to 2 passengers, but many charge simply by passenger. Overall, unless you do an exclusive service, most are cheaper than a taxi or Uber per ride. 

If you can fill a whole van with passengers, prices start at around $150 from what I reviewed (e.g. speediShuttle priced at $144 for eight passengers one way). Other services charge a flat rate for the first 4 passengers, then a per passenger fee thereafter.

In some cases, it’ll be cheaper to get a taxi or Uber, depending on the number of passengers. But if you would exceed at least one vehicle, check and see if the shared van rates are better. If traveling by your self, a shared van will certainly be less expensive. But it still isn’t the cheapest way to get from Honolulu airport to Waikiki.

The Bus – Cheapest Way to Get from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki

If you’re on a budget, use TheBus. That’s right. Public transportation for the win. A standard adult fare costs $3.00. Kids are just $1.50.

To get to the bus stop, head out of the airport terminal into baggage claim. Then find the elevator or escalator and head up. These aren’t conveniently located or easily visible at HNL. Head to the end of baggage claim and go through the doors. You should see the elevator and escalator. Go to the second (departures) level.

Once you’re outside on the upper level, head across to the island between the two travel ways. There are two public bus stops for TheBus, both at covered the covered structures.

If you’re headed to a Waikiki hotel, you’ll want bus number 20. It isn’t the fastest option at 45+ minutes from HNL. But it’ll save you money for sure. 

If you’re headed elsewhere on Oahu, the 303 will take you to the Kalihi Transit Center. You’ll need to understand the whole Oahu bus system if you have to connect to other areas of the island. 

Cheapest Way to Get from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki: Final Thoughts

Honolulu — actually all of Oahu — has a solid public transportation system the TheBus. I rode TheBus multiple times during my recent trip and would do so again in a heartbeat. On this particular trip, my goal was to enjoy a long weekend in Hawaii without breaking the bank. And TheBus really helped. 

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to get from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki, TheBus is surely the option you want. TheBus isn’t all that convenient at times. but with some decent research, it’s a fantastic option for getting around the island.