Today we start the show answering questions from our podcast and Facebook friends. I offer some tips and advice to these listeners and hope they will be of some help. Big Mahalo’s to Juale Winas, Monika, Betinna Tores, Carol Silversteinm Jan Blocker, Stacy aAexander and Betina Parker for the great questions. If you have a question you’d like answered or an itinerary you need some help with feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear from you!
Driving in Hawaii vs. Driving in the Mainland
One thing folks love to reminisce about from their trip to Hawaii is how driving around the island was vastly different from driving on the mainland. While we will agree it’s different, we won’t say that it is vastly different. After all, when us islanders travel back to the mainland, all we can think about is how crazy those drivers are in LA and San Francisco! Seriously, is 80mph really worth the risk?!! But anyways, we posed this topic on our Facebook page and watched as the comments piled up. Some were very true-to-life while others were just plain comical. Our favorite repeat mention was how drivers in Hawaii “drive with aloha.” We recently covered this topic on our blog, but because it’s proved to be so entertaining we’re doing it again. This time with a slightly different spin.
We’re breaking down driving here island-by-island, beginning with the quiet island that some might not even be able to envision even having a rush hour. The Garden Isle of Kauai is roughly the same size as Oahu but home to only about 67,000 people (compared to Oahu’s 875,000 residents). There is one road on Kauai, and the speed limit is 50mph. With recent expansion to the stretch of the Kaumuali’i Highway in Lihue (Kauai’s main town), it has given residents and tourists a little more room to navigate together on the road. But that doesn’t mean drivers change their habits. Kauai’s north shore has many one-lane bridges that fit only one car at a time. While many locals are generous on the road and will wave a car in front of them, there are the faster-driving, lifted truck and speedy coupe drivers that aren’t as friendly. Kauai is notorious for this local mentality, so just be forewarned when you visit; not all drivers in Hawaii are as friendly as they might appear. Also, Lihue and Kapa‘a traffic can be a major hold up, and most locals seem to never be in a hurry. If you’re late for a dinner reservation or activity, expect to be maddened by a slow-driving, rubbernecking, making-the-traffic-even-worse type of driver on this island! (That is, unless you’re behind one of the crazier drivers!)
Due to its dense population and capitol city, Oahu has a blend of “good” drivers and “bad” drivers. In Hawaii it is habit to wave to other drivers and throw shaka, but that doesn’t mean everyone will. And in areas like Honolulu and the north shore, locals are known to race through certain areas to try and avoid the tourist traffic. Take the stretch of highway in Haleiwa, Oahu’s north shore, for example. While it is only a one-lane road, many locals will attempt to bypass the traffic by cutting cars off from the shoulder lane or merging lanes. It really puts a damper on everyone’s day! Why does that guy in the big lifted truck think he is above having to wait in traffic to get to the beautiful beaches on this side? Waimea Bay parking lot is another especially aggressive area on the north shore for this type of driving as well. You will see lines of cars waiting patiently for a car to reverse and give up their parking spot, only to be snaked by some local driver who has been eagle-eyeing the spot for the past 10 minutes. Waikiki is notorious for quick-moving buses and trolleys and confused people trying to navigate the roads. Perhaps the lack of grid systems is to blame?
Maui is a blend of Kauai and Oahu, but seems to take after more of Kauai’s driving habits than Oahu’s. The stretch of road that is probably the road that locals avoid like the plague is the Hana Highway. Tourists will drive this road at approximately 15 mph because the sights are so spectacular, so I guess you can’t blame Maui residents for their crazy passing antics or back road navigation. Thankfully Maui has a variety of roads that all lead to the same place, just via a different route. This largely helps to reduce traffic, but also makes for confusing directions. One thing that some local drivers lack on Maui (and perhaps in Hawaii in general) is maintaining a consistent speed on the roadways. If you’re behind a car that speeds up to 50mph and then slows down to 40 and then speeds back up to 55 and back down to 45, it’ll drive you crazy. It’ll also make your sightseeing a bit dizzying, so be sure to pass a driver like this!
While all of the islands in Hawaii have confusing, long, and hard-to-pronounce street names and highways, for some reason the Big Island seems to be the worst. Nicknames have been created to identify roadways with confusing names and you’ll also notice that many locals do not refer to street names at all. Instead, they will give you landmarks to recognize, even if they’re talking about their own neighborhood! It’s not just tourists coming to Hawaii who can’t remember the names of everything; it’s the residents as well! Big Island is the largest of all the Hawaiian Islands, making the navigation and driving time the longest of anywhere else. Thankfully Hawaii has great signage on their highways, so even if you have a map or GPS system, simply following the highway signs might be a better way to learn the routes.
To finish off this rant, I’m going to give you the top 5 most annoying things that Hawaii drivers do, #1 being the most aggravating of all. Not to be taken to heart or offensively, this is merely a humorous guide for tourists to enjoy, but also quite possibly a self-reflective account of my own driving skills as a Hawaii resident myself!
#5 Making traffic jams worse by not using the gas pedal
#4 Being too generous at a one-lane bridge
#3 Driving 10mph slower than the minimum speed limit on the highway
#2 Yielding almost to a stop on a highway merge lane
#1 Driving so slow you miss the green light ahead of you