For visitors to Kauai, a rental car is the best way to see the beautiful island, from Waimea Canyon on one end to Ke’e Beach on the other end and everything in between. There are so many things to see and do in Kauai and they are spread out over the entire island. (A main highway connects most of the island. From the airport, a trip on the main road heads either towards Poipu, Hanapepe and Waimea, or north towards Kapaa, Princeville, Hanalei and beyond.)
Renting a vehicle on Kauai is easy and most all rentals take place at the Lihue Airport. When you step out of the baggage claim area in the airport you will see the shuttles to the various rental companies which are actually right around the corner. It is recommended that you make your car rental reservation before your trip to Kauai, as there have been reported shortages during peak seasons.
Popular car rentals on Kauai include Jeeps and convertibles. Be sure to note your license plate as it’s common to get back to a parking lot and find several identical vehicles (all rentals like yours). We recommend Jeeps and other four-wheel drive vehicles. We’ve seen more than a few small cars mightily struggling in the Ke’e Beach auxiliary parking area for example.
Please note that driving in Kauai is a little different than driving in the states and elsewhere. Kauai drivers are generally very courteous, reflecting the island’s relaxed lifestyle. With that said, it’s easy to speed in outlying areas on the main highway. Watch for vehicles pulling onto the main highway as this has been a source of a number of Kauai traffic accidents.
Also note that rental car companies generally have a “no off road” clause in the fine print. If you find yourself stuck on a dirt road, for example the dirt road to Polihale Beach, you will want to call a wrecker instead of the rental company.
The entire island of Kauai is an attraction and the best way to experience it is with the top pulled down or the windows rolled down in a rental car. Use the Expedia search box below to find a car rental for your trip to Kauai.
Hertz Not Recommended
There is one rental car company in Lihue we do not recommend. We reserved a Toyota 4Runner (or similar vehicle) from Hertz for extended family visiting the island. We received a crossover Dodge Journey (compact SUV) instead. We addressed the issue with Hertz Lihue representatives at the time of pickup and were told the Journey was similar and in the same class as the 4Runner and they could not help us further. (A Dodge Journey is described by Dodge as a crossover compact SUV starting at around $21,000. A Toyota 4Runner is a full-size SUV starting at around $34,000.)