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Traveling Responsibly in Hawai‘i During the Rental Car Shortage

May 30, 2021, 10:20 AM HST
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Hawai‘i has experienced a rapid rise in visitor arrivals during May, which is anticipated to continue through the summer months. As a result, residents and visitors alike have been experiencing challenges in securing a rental car throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Residents are having difficulty finding cars for business and leisure trips to the neighbor islands. Arriving visitors are experiencing the same problems on all islands, including O‘ahu. HTA is aware of this situation and working with state and county officials, as well as the rental car companies, on short- and long-term solutions.
Many vehicles are already reserved at most major rental companies through August, with the daily rental fee for available vehicles often being significantly higher than usual. Some reports say that vehicles are being rented for as much as $700 per day.

Hawai‘i’s rental car fleet decreased by more than 40% during the pandemic, which is understandable as travel to the islands effectively grinded to a halt for an entire year. The car rental shortage is not limited to the Hawaiian Islands; it is also happening at major vacation destinations nationwide.

There have also been reports of visitors getting creative by renting moving trucks as leisure vehicles just to be able to get around the islands. Just this past weekend there were several sightings of U-Haul trucks seen at popular visitor locations.

Please know HTA does not condone visitors renting moving trucks and vans for leisure purposes. These work vehicles are used frequently by Hawai‘i residents and businesses to move their belongings to new homes and offices, and for other essential personal tasks. Having visitors rent these moving vehicles to use for leisure transportation is disrespectful and should not be encouraged by anyone in the travel industry.

That said, HTA reminds all visitors to follow the advice below if they are planning a trip to Hawai‘i through the end of summer:

Book your rental car first before making the rest of your travel arrangements. Only rent from legal rental car companies that are licensed to do business in Hawai‘i. Be careful of scams and rental offers that are too good to be true.

If you are headed to Hawai‘i or already here and were unable to secure a rental car, there are various modes of public transportation (i.e., taxis, rideshare, buses, shuttles, bikeshare, etc.). Additionally, many hotels and resorts provide transportation to major points of interest. There are also many reputable tour operators that offer designated hotel pick-up and drop-off options.

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