Only in the laid-back nature of Kauai would lawn chairs be used for passengers waiting for the bus. It’s what I love about the island; no fancy bells or whistles to get things running the right way. Except for maybe the colorful flowers hand-painted on every bus stop bench, everything about the bus is simple, even its name: The Kauai Bus.

The Kauai Bus goes from Kekaha to Hanalei and just screams island style with its colorful seating, which by the way is a rocking bench.

If you’re really on a budget when visiting the Garden Isle and don’t want to rent a car, then this may be an option to consider. (Although, if you really want to see every island nook and cranny, then I’d suggest renting a car). The bus travels from Kekaha to Hanalei with stops located conveniently throughout the island. And while it does go to most of the major island sites, be warned that the bus doesn’t stop at all of them. For instance, the drive up to Kokee – the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” – is only accessible by car; mostly because you climb thousands of feet in elevation.

The Kauai Bus also stops at the Lihue Airport, and as long as your carry-ons are no larger than 9” x 14” x 22,“ you’re good to go. Whenever we’re waiting for our ride from the airport, I’ll notice the bus pass by every 15 minutes or so. Very convenient and affordable. Bus fares are $2 (general), $1 (children 7-18) and $1 senior citizens (60+).

A few house rules to keep in mind: no food/drinks, no smoking, no drop-offs at undesignated stops. The Kauai Bus runs seven days a week and usually has route times posted at each stop. You can check its website or call them for the bus schedule.

THE KAUAI BUS • Kekaha to Hanalei, 7 days a week • $2 (general); $1 (children 7-18); $1 (senior citizen) • www.kauai.gov • 808-214-6410

4 COMMENTS

  1. Great info for planning a trip on a budget. We plan on using the bus system on our next trip. Plus I’m excited about checking out all of the art work on the benches. We found great deals for places to stay on Kauai at Kauai Vacation Rentals they have a great blog to with lots of info. http://bit.ly/MDN7D5

  2. People should be aware, however, that most of the buses only run once per HOUR, the connections don't always coincide (meaning, you get off the bus and the one you needed to catch was scheduled to leave 5 or 10 minutes prior to your arrival, so you have to wait another 50 – 55 minutes for the next bus), and it's not only Koke'e that you can't reach: you can't go past Hanalei on the bus, so Haena and Ke'e (Napali Coast) are out of the question too unless you're ok with hitch-hiking…I'm sharing this info as a Kauai resident who used the bus as my sole transportation for the first year and a half living here, so I know the pros and cons very well… Just want everyone to know what they're considering, as that "laid back" nature mentioned in the article is probably beyond what most people can imagine. So if you're laid back and don't need to get anywhere soon, quickly, or don't mind planning long travel times to go short distances (if you need to transfer buses), then the bus is a great option for saving money!

  3. Oh, and one more important thing: the bus schedule on Sundays is VERY limited (some routes are every TWO hours) and the bus stops running in the early evening/late afternoon. And even on regular days, the bus stops running pretty early for most people (though Kauai isn't known for its night life, it can be a problem for people wanting to take the bus to/from night flights at the airport). Also: be aware of the many unusual Hawaiian holidays that also cause the bus to run on a very limited schedule and *really* mess with connections!

  4. In 2011 I used the bus to get everywhere I wanted to and had a great time. This year I’m doing it again. True, you won’t be able to get to some of the top sightseeing spots via bus, but if you’re on Kauai more for the laid-back culture, the beach, and the local eats, a rental car is not necessary. Pick a hotel with airport shuttle service so you can pack more than what a carry-on allows, and check for Waimea Canyon tours that offer hotel pick up and drop off. Sundays and holidays are the least desirable days for bus service, so plan accordingly.

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