Do You Need a Car? A Guide to Car Rentals in Maui

Updated Feb 15, 2023 ,

Paia Town

You’re planning your vacation, making an itinerary, and getting excited about all the things you want to do. But then it comes time to look for a rental car. The options are endless, and you realize that prices in Maui are through the roof.

Then you start to wonder – do I even need a rental car in Maui?

A rental car in Maui can be the next most expensive thing after your flights and hotel (which you can’t do without). So it’s only natural to wonder if you can save money by forgoing the car.

Luckily the answer is easy and isn’t going to take this entire post, but you can learn about the most affordable options (outside of the airport) if you stick around.

So what’s the answer? That’s up next!

Do You Need to Rent a Car in Maui?

Road to Hana

Here’s one scenario where you can get away without renting a car. If you plan to stay at a major resort (Ka'anapali or Wailea), are not worried about grocery shopping, and don’t plan to explore the island (or only book tours that pick you up), you can go without a car.

You can also go without one if you’re outside a major resort area, have your groceries delivered, and don’t plan to do anything aside from lounge at your condo and the beach.

Other than that? I’d recommend one. Here’s why…

Reasons to Rent a Car on Vacation in Maui

There are more reasons than not to rent a car in Maui, including the freedom and flexibility it provides. As you’ll see, it can also end up being a cheaper and more reliable option.

  • Groceries – Unless you’re only staying for a short time or only plan on eating out (which can get expensive!), you’ll likely end up making a few trips to the grocery store. We love saving money by cooking some of our meals at the condo.
  • Restaurants and Shopping – You’ll have a limited selection of restaurants and shops within walking distance at most condos outside the major resort areas. Depending on where you stay, you might not have any within a quick walk.
  • Exploring – Maui is a beautiful island with little towns and different areas worth exploring. You can book tours that pick you up, but not all of them do. Having your own car will give you the flexibility to choose what you see and when.
  • Cost – It might be weird to see cost here, but renting a car can actually save you money in the long run. While a rental car may seem expensive initially, it’s often less expensive than taking multiple taxis or shuttles to get around the island if you plan on exploring.
  • Ride Share – I have found that Uber and Lyft can be spotty in Maui. They are available, and I’ve always ended up getting one, but I’ve had some very long waits that left me wondering. If that happens to you, check the XL option if standard cars aren’t available.

If you’re looking for the most freedom and flexibility while on the island, renting a car is probably the best option. However, if you plan to spend most of your time in one area that has everything you need, it may be more cost-effective to forgo the car.

Renting a Car for Only Part of Your Trip

Another option to consider is renting a car for only a portion of your trip. For example, you can rent a car for a day or two to explore the island and then return it before the rest of your stay.

While that can save you money, it’s really only a good option if you’re staying somewhere close to where you rented the car or use a service that drops it off and picks it up for you, like Turo. Otherwise, you could spend a good amount of time picking up and returning the car.

The Best Places to Rent a Car in Maui

Central Maui

There’s more than one option for renting a car in Maui. It’s a popular tourist destination, after all! Each option has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh them against your individual needs and budget when deciding which to choose.

Kahului Airport Car Rentals

The Kahului Airport (OGG) is the main airport in Maui and where most visitors will begin their vacation. There you will find a variety of car rental options from familiar major companies.

Renting a car at the airport can be convenient, as it allows you to pick up your car as soon as you arrive and drop it off before you leave. The car rental kiosk is a short trolley ride from the main terminal. However, it’s often more expensive than renting from a local company.

  • Pros – The most convenient option for renting a car from major companies.
  • Cons – Also one of the most expensive options.

Find Deals With Discover Cars

Discover Cars allows you to compare prices from multiple car rental companies in one place. They offer a wide range of vehicles at competitive prices and can save you money.

Resort Car Rentals

You’ll need a ride from the airport, but some resorts in Maui offer car rental services. There are also satellite locations for many major companies near popular tourist locations, including Ka'anapali and Kihei. This is a great option if you’re only planning to rent a car for part of your trip.

However, like renting at the airport, it’s often more expensive than renting from a local company. If you’re interested in doing this, be sure to check with your resort or look online to see what’s available near where you’re staying.

  • Pros – Great for only renting a car for part of your trip.
  • Cons – Also another one of the most expensive options.

Budget Local Car Rental Companies

Several local car rental companies in Maui offer more affordable options. These companies are located away from the airport and major resorts, so keep in mind that you may need to arrange transportation to and from their location.

The cars at these companies are typically older with more wear and tear, but they’re still reliable. If you don’t mind an older car that might have some dings, this is a great budget option. Discount Hawaii Car Rental, Kimo’s Rent-A-Car, and Kihei Rent-A-Car are all great options to consider when looking for a budget car rental company.

  • Pros – One of the most affordable options for renting a car.
  • Cons – Older cars and not as convenient as renting from the airport.

Car Sharing with Turo

Turo is a car-sharing company that allows individuals to rent their personal cars to others. It is often described as an “Airbnb for cars” and offers a wide range of vehicles to choose from, including luxury cars and vans that may not be available from traditional car rental companies. Many of the owners will even drop the car off for you at the airport.

This has the potential to be the best option depending on what you find available. It can be a lot cheaper than renting from a traditional car rental company, especially for longer trips. We’ve been able to find amazing deals on cars that are only a couple of years old and in great shape.

  • Pros – Potential to be one of the most affordable options for renting a car.
  • Cons – May have a limited selection depending on what’s available.

Is It Hard to Drive in Maui?

Road to Hana Aerial View

Driving in most parts of Maui isn’t hard or much different than driving in any other city. Especially if you’re staying in tourist destinations such as West Maui or South Maui.

Even the more rural parts of Maui, like Upcountry, aren’t that bad, but the roads can be winding, and only one lane in each direction. So it depends on what you’re comfortable with. If you’re not sure, stick to the tourist areas, but most confident drivers should have no problem in Maui.

The Road to Hana is another part of Maui that people often wonder about. It used to be considered a dangerous road, but that has changed with improvements over the last few decades. It can still be challenging due to its winding and narrow nature, but it’s a lot safer these days.

There are two parts of Maui that I’d recommend you avoid driving unless you are super confident in your abilities. Those are:

  • Kapalua to Wailuku – This is where highway 30 turns into 340 on the northern tip of West Maui. Google Maps won’t even suggest this route. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool drive, but many parts are only a single lane for both directions of traffic and on the edge of a cliff. I think most average people would consider this a scary drive.
  • Hana to Kula – This is also known as the Backside of the Road to Haha, where the Hana Highway turns into the Piilani Highway. It’s not as bad as the Kapalua drive, but it still has parts with a single lane for both directions of traffic, and the road itself is rugged.

Should You Rent a Car in Maui?

Lahaina Town

Renting a car in Maui can be a cost-effective option, depending on what you have planned. If you’re planning to explore the island, renting a car can be the cheaper option. However, if you’re only planning to spend time in one place, you might save some money by not renting a car.

If you do decide to rent a car, be sure to explore all the options. We’ve enjoyed the savings from Turo lately and will likely continue to choose that for when we need a car. No matter what you decide, it’s hard to have a bad time in Maui, so you can’t choose wrong.

When driving in Maui, remember to drive with aloha and be courteous to others on the road. The speed limit is much slower than the mainland at 25 – 55 mph max. That can be challenging for some visitors, but I see it as part of the laid-back vibe of the island.

Justin and Katie Busa

Meet the Authors

Aloha! We’re Justin and Katie, the owners of Maui Hideaway. We’ve been visiting Hawaii together with our family for 20 years and would love to share the experience of the islands with you. Whether you’re looking for a place to stay or just some vacation advice, we’re here to help!

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