Oahu traffic – getting around the island

Kalakau Avenue Waikiki
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Oahu traffic – getting around the island

There is a construction staging area for roadwork projects in and around Honolulu below the HAT Blog Home Office, and it’s busy. It’s got us thinking about getting around on Oahu and choosing the best way to get to where you want to go and avoid the frustration of snarled Oahu traffic.

Across the street, tractor-trailers come and go all day Monday through Friday. The reverse signal beeping of a backhoe is constant. The trucks are there either to receive or discharge their payloads, to pick up grading dirt, deliver it, or dump waste concrete from demolition and resurfacing projects. It is a daily reminder of just how much roadwork is going on in Honolulu.

Pali Highway Construction Site
Road construction base yard just off Pali Highway.

Oahu traffic – visitor tips for day trips

We’re all for improved roads, of course, but all of that roadwork can jam up transit times. A minor traffic collision miles away can turn what is normally a short trip into one that makes you wish you had packed a lunch. So, we offer here some tips.

Type “Oahu traffic” into your preferred search engine, likely Google. Yes, it’s simple. Googling “Oahu traffic” will get you to a real-time map of conditions with orange, red, and black lines along the island’s highways and surface streets indicating the level of congestion. It is particularly effective at alerting you to any roadwork or collision that impacts traffic flow. I check it before I start my car without fail. A busted water main can close main thoroughfares in Honolulu’s urban corridor for hours. A collision on H-1, H-2, or H-3 Freeways can take hours to clear. It’s best to “know before you go”.

Densely-populated Honolulu and H-1 Freeway (off-peak hours).

“Know before you go!”

Whether you’re in a rental vehicle, a ride service, riding public transportation (theBus), or on a “Biki” (a City-supported bicycle sharing service with many stations throughout urban Honolulu), it helps to know what roads to avoid. An official from the Honolulu Police Department said on May 1, 2023 that there is an average of 70 car accidents on Oahu daily.

TheBus offers a free smartphone app that locates buses by route and by number in real-time (within a couple of minutes). There are dozens of Oahu bus routes, many of the “express” variety with limited stops for longer hauls like the “Country Express”. It takes away the stress of navigating behind the wheel and offers the time to read about Hawaii history, say, or to simply stare out the window at Oahu’s myriad neighborhoods.

There are many The Bus routes that serve Waikiki

Biki is hugely popular. Their free app will tell you how many bikes are available at any given station at any time. The rental fee is appealingly low. If you are confident riding a bike in the city, Biki is a great way to go. My wife and her pals use them regularly, and even I have been known to hop on one for a trip across town to the beach to avoid the headache of parking (it’s a thing). We’ll also note that Honolulu has a several walkable retail and dining/entertainment districts.

If you are driving a rental vehicle or using a ride service and encounter a traffic jam, well, you’re in it. However, there are thankfully several resources for planning your trip. Easy access to those resources can spare you a lot of transit times during an Oahu vacation. We recommend you use them.