When you’ve finally made it to the warm tropics of Hawaii, and you can hardly wait to check out the resort pool and beautiful beaches, you’re probably not even remotely thinking about the traffic you may encounter from the airport to the hotel. Or if you’re leaving the resort to catch a flight home, or to another island, the last thing you might think about is that you could miss your flight due to slow moving cars. But even in Hawaii, which seems slow-paced, laid-back and relaxed, you are sure to encounter a fair share of traffic during your vacation. Sorry to break the bad news.
In fact, Honolulu ranks No. 2 worst traffic in the NATION, falling behind Los Angeles, California. Shocked? Try sitting in rush hour traffic on the H1 and you’ll understand why it’s so bad. It has been stated that 75% of the state’s population lives on the island of Oahu, and 80% of them live in town, or the Honolulu area. That’s a lot of people and a lot of cars in a very small amount of space!
Even the quiet island of Kauai has its high traffic times, despite its small population and lesser-developed land. At around 4:00 in the afternoon and lasting till around 6pm, Kapa’a Town develops traffic on its only highway. With only one road around the island, it’s inevitable that Kauai will see its share of traffic in high-density areas.
Lihue, on Kauai, is also known to get a little slow during rush hour, particularly in the mornings when kids are commuting to school. If you’re staying on the North Shore, Kapa’a is the major town you’ll pass through after the airport. And if you’re staying on the South Side, you’ll pass through Lihue. Keep these small towns in mind when you’re making time sensitive plans, like island hops or dinner reservations.
On Maui, the biggest build up is around the Lahaina and Kaanapali areas. Obviously this is due to the high volume of visitors traveling to these small towns, but it’s important to understand that many towns also only have one road in and one road out. Again, if you have somewhere to be at a certain time, make sure you plan ahead and check the traffic. One easy way to do this is to pull up Google maps, which updates the flow of traffic on a regular basis. Or just Google ‘Lahaina traffic’ and click the ‘maps’ tab, which is virtually the same thing.
Big Island lacks major traffic build-ups, but you can encounter some slow moving vehicles around the Kona area. This is mostly because of the amount of tourists and travelers navigating around the roads, but usually don’t last too long. The main drag of this area is known as Ali‘i Dr. so if you’re staying in the Kailua-Kona area of the Big Island, remember that downtown can be slow at times.
Don’t let traffic hold ups hold you up from having a great vacation though! Just keep in mind Hawaii has its own set of road rules and traffic times, which are different from the mainland. And don’t get caught with a speeding ticket! Speed limits in the state are slower than the mainland, with 60 being the maximum speed and only legal on Oahu. On Maui and Big Island, the fastest speed limit is 55 and Kauai is 50. But you’ll usually only be going about 25 to 35 mph on these islands anyways. So slow down, relax, take a deep breath. Hang loose.