My Experience Renting a Car in Hawaii

My Experience Renting a Car in Hawaii

My motorcycle broke down last month. I was sad. In the meantime, I had to still keep meeting clients and going to networking events. I was doing it on The Bus, even though everyone knows that I hate The Bus in Hawaii. At one point, I had too many things to do and The Bus was too inconvenient for me to run all my errands. It was at this point that I decided to rent a car.


I’ve never rented a car before.

I have never rented a car before. I’ve never actually felt like I needed to rent a car. Even when I spent a bit of time working and studying abroad, I had access to decent public transportation and fairly cheap taxis. So for me to rent a car, I would have to go through the process blind.

I went price shopping for rental cars.

I had no idea where to start. I looked at all the major rental companies like Hertz, Budget, and Avis. All of the prices were much higher than I expected, with cars in the $60-$90/day range. I also looked at motorcycle rentals in Waikiki and believe it or not, motorcycle rentals were about 2 to 3 times more expensive to rent than cars, with sport bikes going for $190/day!!

I ended up choosing Enterprise because I was able to find a really, really good weekly rate online for economy and compact cars at the Waikiki branch .

The car rental process was surprisingly fast.

To get my Enterprise rental, I reserved a vehicle online. I had to choose the dates I wanted to rent the car for, the vehicle class, and the branch to which I would be working with (different branches have different rates and availability).

After that, I got an email and it told me to show up at 7:30AM at Enterprise in Waikiki (I had a meeting at 8:15AM, so I needed it as early as possible). I showed up at their office, talked with 1 of the 2 representatives there.

You would think that with car rentals and all the liability involved that the process would be long and that you would be filling out 10 pages of documents. In reality, with Enterprise, I filled out a 1-page contract, signed about 7 different spots and I was leaving the parking garage about 25 minutes from the time of arrival.

Outside of the online reservation form, I only had to fill out 1 page.
Outside of the online reservation form, I only had to fill out this 1-page contract.

The car was really nice.

I didn’t care about the car itself – I just needed a reprieve from the awful experience of not having a personal vehicle in Hawaii while having multiple things to do and clients to meet. Enterprise could’ve given me a 5-year old car with a bit of faded paint and I wouldn’t really care. Well, guess what, they gave me a shiny, clean, white Nissan Versa that still had a new car smell. This car totally impressed people everywhere I went, though I had to unfortunately tell them that it’s just a rental.

But boy, it was a really nice rental.

The car I rented: a Nissan Versa. I'm pretty sure it was almost new.
The car I rented: a Nissan Versa. I’m pretty sure it was almost new.

Returning the car is easy.

Enterprise has a 30-minute grace period for car returns. So if my rental period ends at 7:37AM, I have until 8:07AM to return it before they automatically charge me for an extra day, in which case, I would just keep it for an extra day.

Before returning my car, I made sure to refill the gas to the level that it was initially at when I rented it (3/4 tank). I also checked for any dings (the car receptionists will be looking for major, golf-ball sized dents) and I stopped by the gas station to use their water and clean off the bird poop.

After returning the car, I spent 10 minutes inside the office and the car return was officially done.

The benefits.

Although I was using this vehicle for mostly running errands and meeting clients, I really saw that there could be a tremendous benefit for tourists visiting Hawaii. I already mentioned that I am not a fan of The Bus. And for people with limited time in Hawaii, I think a rental car is almost mandatory for going to places outside of Honolulu.

The main benefit of a rental car is that you’ll have more options. If you decide to stay a little longer at Lanikai Beach after kayaking to watch the gorgeous sunset, then you can. Or if you want to drop off half of your party at the mall so that you can go for a hike and then meet up later in the day for dinner, you can as well. A car just gives you a lot of options.

Coming soon: saving money on rentals and other tips

I actually have a lot more to write of my car rental experience. The next article will be about saving money on car rentals and other helpful tips. If you find this article helpful, please forward it to your friends or share it on your social networks. Take care!

4 thoughts on “My Experience Renting a Car in Hawaii

  1. Nice and informative blog! just the way i like it!
    I found this blog preparing for my trip to waikiki.
    I also made a reservation with enterprise and was wondering if you got the extra insurance and how much more it cost you.
    To my knowledge, Im not a bad driver but do you recommend getting the extra insurance?

    1. Andy,

      Thanks for commenting. I was actually 1/2 done with part 2, but never bothered to finish it until I saw your comment :-).

      Car rental insurance is one the things that really surprised me, because Enterprise made no mention of it when I reserved online or on the phone (for obvious reasons).

      Please read this next part to read more about whether to buy insurance or not:

      PS: You should never go without insurance. It’s not just for you, but also for things outside of your control, like drunk drivers or if a coconut drops onto the roof of your car.


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