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Driving, let alone parking in Waikiki has been known to be a nightmare, whether you’re traveling into town for the night or spending your vacation here. The crowds spill onto the streets, making any driver’s awareness (and stress levels) heighten, and if you’re not willing to pay for a parking lot or valet fees then you have slim chances of finding a spot. There are ways to beat this chaos however, and since we’re experienced with the art of Waikiki parking, we’d like to share our insight with you.

First off, if you’re staying in Waikiki, then it’s probably not necessary to drive to your dinner destination a few blocks away. Trust us, you’re better off just leaving the car at the hotel parking lot and walking. Waikiki is a lively strip of sidewalk, and it will give you a chance to check things out at a slower pace, not to mention be entertained by the street performers. If you’re traveling into the city for the day or evening, then your parking situation will be a little tougher. I like to approach it in three different ways.

#1- Weave the side streets. You might just get lucky with a metered parking space down one of Waikiki’s many side streets. These spaces tend to have a quick turn around, but you need to time and patience to wait this one out. If you’re in a hurry or trying to make dinner reservations, we don’t really recommend this approach. Unless you just want to do a quick scout for open spaces to try your luck. Also, the long road along the Ala Wai canal offers free parking, and a lot of it. You just have to be okay with walking about 6 or so blocks to get to the waterfront areas. Remember though, weaving through Waikiki in a vehicle can be stressful and frustrating, so if you’re not familiar with the area, or aren’t having any luck finding a parking spot, then we recommend this next approach.

#2- Find a lot. Parking lot pricing in Waikiki depends on the time of day and duration of your stay. Waikiki parking garages range in price from $2/hour to $15/hour, so you want to make sure you cruise the area first to compare lots. The paid parking lot at the end of Hobron Lane (where you’ll find Red Lobster, The Modern Honolulu, and the boat harbor) is a great place to park if you are up for a decent walk, or if your day takes you into the Hilton Hawaiian Village. You pay by the hour at an automated machine, and you can take the beach route to your destination if you follow the parking lot to the ocean. The Honolulu Zoo parking lot is also an easy one to find and located in a good spot. Close to the water and at the east end of Kalakaua, you’ll be able to walk Waikiki’s strip from start to finish from here, plus the hourly rate is pretty cheap. Also, the parking lot beneath The Top of Waikiki building and restaurant at Kalakaua and Seaside Ave has a flat fee of $5 during the evening. This is a great price, and the lot is very centrally located. Just make sure you’re out of the garage by midnight, otherwise your car will be locked inside!

#3-Valet parking with validation. Probably the priciest but most convenient way to park, valet is a great option, if you can get around the sky-high prices. A good way to do this is by finding out which valet lots accept validation from nearby businesses. If you spend any amount of money at a nearby ABC store, valet parking ticket prices will drop significantly. What I always like to recommend to a couple or family who is looking for a nice evening in Waikiki is to valet park the car at the Embassy Suites on Beachwalk Dr. and enjoy a cocktail at Roy’s outdoor bar. Any amount spent at Roy’s will drop your valet parking fee down by nearly $10, and if you’re planning on having a drink anyways, you might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Another way around pricy parking while vacationing in Hawaii is to book a condo. Often times condominiums offer guests free parking, and spaces are always plentiful. Almost all of the condos we book on outer islands offer free parking, and when other hotels are charging $20-$50 a day, our condo options with their FREE parking starts to look pretty good. Or, if you plan to spend majority of your time near your hotel, a car is simply unnecessary. Especially in Waikiki. Public transportation is excellent in this city, and you can also find fun trolleys and buses to hop on as well. You can save a few hundred dollars by skipping out on a rental car while on vacation, and a few taxi rides won’t hurt much if you’re staying close. Just make sure you’re not cutting your vacation short by doing so! If you do intend to rent a car, follow our tips and you should be just fine!

Since 2006 Bruce Fisher has been publishing the Hawaii Vacation Blog and the Hawaii Vacation Connection Podcast which, create daily content about Hawaii Travel and Tourism. This Blog is the only online resource providing Hawaii-based information aimed at travelers seven days per week. Postings reflect the Hawaiian Islands, their culture and their lifestyle as accurately and thoroughly as possible.
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