Honolulu Airport Shuttle vs Taxi

Your options for getting from the Airport to Waikiki

Should you take the Honolulu Airport Shuttle service? Or take a taxi to get to Waikiki?

Getting from the Honolulu International Airport to your hotel or apartment is most probably the very first concern you have upon arrival. Here are some options for you to consider, each with its pros and cons.

Note on off-campus lodging for new students: it is recommended that you arrive 2 weeks prior to school starts, so that you can hunt for an apartment and familiarize yourself with your surroundings (and also to participate in any New Student Orientation programs).

Student Pick Up Service

Typically, such a service is run by volunteers so there’s no charge. They'll wait for you right outside the gate, with identification for you to look out for. And you’ll get to meet fellow new students going to the same school as you – no better way to make friends and bond than when everyone’s friend-less and sharing the same experience!

The downside is the hours of operation are limited, usually no airport pick up on holidays, weekends and after office hours. And it’s for students only; your parents/chaperones probably won’t be allowed to ride with you. Sometimes the drop off locations may be limited within a certain area as well.

I think this is the best option for a new student traveling solo, and I was lucky to have stumbled upon and made reservations for such a service. I got to meet the volunteers, who also ran a support center for international students who’re experiencing homesickness or just need someone to talk to. Bonus part was their center was about 2 blocks from my hostel!

Find out if your school’s International Student Services department (that's where it usually is) offers a pick up service.

Honolulu Airport Shuttle Services

There are 2 companies operating airport shuttle service, Roberts Hawaii (big tour bus) and Waikiki Shuttle Service (passenger van), and they both offer low flat-rate fees to most hotels and condotels (hotels that have been semi-converted into condos) in Waikiki.

This option is suited to those who don’t mind waiting (for the bus to arrive, for other passengers to board and for the multiple drop-off stops), and aren’t traveling with irregular luggage (surfboards, golf clubs etc). You can pre-purchase your ticket online, or at the counter after you exit the terminal.

I’ve used Roberts Hawaii before, and think that it’s best for the solo fuss-free traveler (1 luggage, 1 carry-on). For folks traveling in pairs or more, you’re better off taking a taxi than the Honolulu airport shuttle – it’s a trade-off between cost and time saved.


There are 2 types of taxis that you can hire at the airport, the regular metered taxi or a flat-rate taxi. The difference between the 2 is that you’ll have to call to reserve a flat-rate taxi, and flat-rate taxis are only for passengers who have US mobile numbers, i.e. domestic visitors.

The fare on regular metered taxi from the airport to Waikiki is approximately $40, not including tip. You may encounter drivers whose native language isn’t English, but as long as you have an address to show, you should be fine.

This is the quickest option to get you from the airport to Waikiki, or where your apartment is located, but also the most expensive.

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