There’s something thrilling about riding a trolley wherever you are in the world. In San Francisco, dangling from the edge of cable cars is a must, while in Hawaii, passengers enjoy the open-air cruises with ocean views.

There are even trolleys in parts of Europe and Canada, which look more like buses attached to the organized mess of cable wiring above. While they may not be as “fun-looking” or as entertaining as the open-aired ones, they’re still an affordable way of getting around town on a budget. Not to mention, they provide a nice shelter from those cold weather days.

There isn’t much cold weather in Hawaii, however, where the average year-round temperature is 85-degrees and sunny. That’s why having open-aired trolleys makes sense here. If anything, there’ll be the issue of it being too warm for passengers, especially on those dead-wind days. But most of the trolley rides are quick, so you won’t be stuck riding the heat wave for too long.

Trolleys go way back into Hawaii’s history, too. In fact, the earlier trolleys were actually cable cars similar to the ones we see today in San Francisco – bounded by tracks. The Manoa Trolley provided the first means of transportation into a once-vacant Manoa Valley during the late nineteenth century. It got so popular that nearly nine-million passengers were taking the trolley every year. That is, until the introduction of the city bus system we see today, which lead to the imminent end of the Manoa Trolley.

Like the San Francisco’s cable cars, Hawaii’s trolleys are mostly used by tourists. Guide books point them into the direction of where and how to ride trolleys, but just seeing the shiny red attractions cruising around is an advertisement in itself. Tourists quickly discover that it’s an easy way to see the sights, hopping on and off at their leisure through paradise.


  1. Wonderful! and Mahalo!
    When I do get there I will be sans car due to the legality that I don’t have a drivers license! So this and city buses too? Great!

  2. Aloha Elizabeth!
    I’d recommend the trolley for commutes around the Honolulu area, such as Waikiki and Ala Moana Shopping Center. However, the city buses will take you almost anywhere on the island, for very cheap, too. Just be sure to ask for transfer tickets so you could hop back on if it’s within the time frame given (usually a couple hours). Enjoy your trip!

    Editor, Hawaii Vacation Blog

  3. Hello,

    I am planning to go to Hawaii in May (originally from Sydney).

    I was wondering:

    1. Does trolleys go to all the major tourist attractions?

    2. Hoe w does the transfer system work (mentioned above)?

    3. Are there trolleys stops near tourist accommodation areas?

    Thank you!

  4. Aloha Helen!

    To answer your questions:
    1. Yes, trolleys go to the major tourist attractions in the Honolulu area, such as the Waikiki Aquarium, the Honolulu Zoo and major shopping malls. There are beautiful beaches and other attractions on the east side of O‘ahu that are more easily accessible by rental car or bus.

    2. The bus transfers are really simple and convenient for travelers. As soon as you get onto a bus, ask the bus driver for a “transfer.” (One transfer per person). He’ll hand you a small slip of paper with times on it. The time that’s circled indicates when the transfer will run out. You can use the transfer to get back on a city bus without a second charge if it’s within that time frame. Usually, it’s good for a couple of hours. Otherwise, if it runs out, you’ll have to pay again. The city bus is very affordable, though, no more than a couple bucks for adults. Much cheaper for children and students.

    3. Yes, there are trolley stops near tourist accommodations. There are trolley systems on Kaua‘i and Maui as well, but more like “trolley tours.” For instance, the Kaua‘i trolley is a 3-hour tour to several attractions. The O‘ahu trolley system is more of an independent way of getting around. The rider chooses when to get on and off. Usually the hotel concierge can tell you where the nearest stops are to your location (:

    Hope this helps! May I ask which island you’re visiting?

    Editor, Hawaii Vacation Blog

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