Waikiki can be the perfect base for your stay on Oahu.
Can you get around Oahu from Waikiki by bus?!
Oahu does have a public transportation bus system that has bus routes that go around the island.
If you don’t want to rent a car, it IS possible to get to the top spots on the island by bus… and you can get the scenic views of a coastal drive to go with it!
The only thing to be prepared for?!
TIME and PATIENCE!
There are some parts of the island in which bus services are less frequent.
This can mean longer wait times.
And then the further you go, of course the longer it’ll take as compared to renting a car.
But as long as you’re mentally prepared for this, and you are ready to experience the slow island life… 😉
Then the bus is no problem!
Or, you can opt to take a bus to the places that are relatively close to Waikiki Beach.
Then maybe you can rent a car for a day or two to head to other parts of the island in order to save time on transportation.
How much does the bus cost from Waikiki?
A single bus ride costs $3 in cash, exact change. Confirm the prices.
If you know you will be riding the bus more than a few times, or you would just rather not deal with cash, then you will want to get the HOLO card.
You need to buy this ahead of time, as you can’t buy it on the bus.
It basically acts as a cash card.
You can buy a HOLO card at any ABC Store in Waikiki. You will need a minimum $5 in cash to get you started. After that, you can reload the card online using your credit card. See current information.
For more details on using public transportation from Waikiki, be sure to also see how to take the bus on Oahu.
More below on where to go by bus from Waikiki!
Here's some info on Oahu trip prep!
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IMPORTANT!!! If you have plans to do the Diamond Head hike, be sure to check the Hawaii State Parks website before you go. As of May 2022, you must make reservations for Diamond Head.
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- Swimming with turtles tour OR Oahu snorkeling on your own
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Bus directions from Waikiki
IMPORTANT!!! Available Oahu bus routes can change, and google maps can be the easiest and most convenient way to know what’s currently available! The less easy and less convenient way to check is the official Oahu bus routes.
Here’s a bit more info below about how to get the bus from Waikiki specifically to some of the top spots on Oahu.
The time and number of transfers is an estimate, and your experience may vary!
It’s more or less to give you an idea of what you may be able to expect.
Based on your timing, there may be another bus route (that drops you to a different bus stop) that will get you to your destination more quickly.
Sometimes, this might even mean a little bit extra walking.
Google Maps makes it easy to get around Oahu by bus!
The best thing to do could be to check Google Maps – this is a trusted way to getting around Oahu by bus.
This is even what the Oahu bus system recommends to help you plan out your bus trip.
If you know exactly where you’re staying, then plug that into the directions for the starting point so you can get a better idea of how many transfers and how much time getting to each of these locations will take by bus!
Once you’re in Waikiki, you can use your GPS and use your current location to figure out the bus route, and this makes things seem SO easy!
Remember, in deciding whether or not you want to go somewhere by bus, you’ll also want to factor in the time you’ll spend waiting for the bus.
This includes both getting there and getting back.
You may want to consider how much walking is required too.
Bus travel = a touch of slow life!
As long as you understand that it can take a long time to get to these places, over an hour to possibly 2 hours or more, then it can definitely be done!
You just need to have patience!
Call it slow island travel. 🙂
Time on bus listed below doesn’t necessarily include wait time if bus transfers are involved!
Now, below on this page…
How to get from Waikiki by bus
- Bus to Diamond Head (hike)
- But to Hanauma Bay (snorkeling)
- Bus to Pearl Harbor
- Bus to Koko Head (hike)
- Bus to Manoa Falls (hike)
- Bus to Makapuu Lighthouse Trail (hike)
- Bus to Lanikai Beach
- Bus to North Shore
- Bus to Dole Plantation
- Bus to Polynesian Cultural Center
- To Honolulu Airport
Bus to Diamond Head Hike
You NEED to make a $5 reservation per person before you go to Diamond Head.
Reservations will be easier if you go to Diamond Head by bus!
Or just generally, without a car.
You also need to make a reservation for parking, and those tickets are more limited.
Diamond Head tickets without parking are easier to come by!
So depending on where in Waikiki you are staying, you may also consider getting in a little bit more activity by walking from Waikiki to Diamond Head!
How long it will take by foot will also depend on what part of Waikiki you’re coming from.
You can always walk to Diamond Head, and then take the bus on the way back to Waikiki!
But, if the trail itself is enough walking for you, it’s easy enough to get from Diamond Head to Waikiki by bus.
Time on bus from Waikiki to Diamond Head bus stop: around 15 minutes
Transfers needed: None!
How close is the bus stop near Diamond Head?
There is a bus stop on the main road right at the street that heads into the crater.
The trail to the Diamond Head summit starts inside the crater.
From the bus stop, it might be around a 10 minute walk.
You’ll come across a nice overlook, and it’ll take you through a tunnel too.
This walk might be around 10 minutes or so.
Also see more ways to get to the Diamond Head hike, including by trolley and bike.
Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on Oahu.
Hanauma Bay is CLOSED on Monday and Tuesday, and you will want to make a $25 per person reservation before you go to Hanauma Bay. (Although there are limited walk-in tickets available.)
Here is the official Hanauma Bay reservation website. You can only buy tickets 2 days before, and they go quick. (If you look at recent tickets that have been sold, it tells you when they sold out.)
There used to be a direct bus to Hanauma Bay, but this Oahu bus route 22 has since been “permanently discontinued.”
But one can hope that it will become un-permanent 😜 so check the official Oahu bus route to see if route 22 is still permanently canceled.
But with the Oahu bus route 22 canceled, can you still get to Hanuama Bay by bus?
Well, that depends on how much you consider is reasonable to walk!
How close is the bus stop near Hanauma Bay?
This is a bus stop near Koko Marina Center, which is where you can find a popular Leonards Bakery food truck for the tourist-favorite Hawaii local snack of malasadas. (map)
This walk from the bus stop “near” Hanauma Bay to Hanauma Bay requires a walk along the main road. I have done this walk a few years ago. (Actually I had my bike and I was walking my bike along the road since the road is a bit of an uphill. 😅)
Because it’s a main road and cars are going fast, it’s not exactly the safest road to walk.
That’s why instead, you may also consider walking an extra 5 minutes or so to walk the “safer” route.
This route still has some “un-safe” areas (like when you have to cross a main road), but I think it’s better than walking most of the time along the main road.
You’ll stay on the bus for an extra stop, and then basically start walking to the Koko Head hike trailhead.
I also did a walk between Koko Head and Hanauma Bay a few years ago, so I would imagine it is still similar. (map)
In zooming in on google maps, there does appear to be a bus stop located a bit further up in the neighborhood (map), but this is probably a less frequent route (if it’s still running at all). I have never had it come up when searching google map bus routes, but maybe your timing will be perfect!
Bus to Pearl Harbor
You’ll see a trip to the Pearl Harbor Memorial on a lot of lists of top things to do in Oahu.
If you’re American in particular, this is worth going to so you can get a better understanding of the history of Pearl Harbor and the tragic day that came with national and global consequences.
You can easily spend a full day here, if you want to.
But you can also make it into a pretty quick trip too just to see the grounds of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.
Although, if you’re making the trip out to Pearl Harbor by bus, it’ll probably be more worth it to spend several hours here.
While walking around the grounds is free, if you want to go see the USS Arizona (which is one of the main attractions of Pearl Harbor, so yes you do 😉) then you need to make a $1 reservation for Pearl Harbor.
Here is the official Pearl Harbor reservation website.
Time on bus from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor bus stop: around 45 minutes
Transfers: Probably 1 bus transfer
How close is the bus stop near Pearl Harbor?
When you get off the bus, you are basically there!
Bus to Koko Crater
You’ll want to do the Koko Head Hike if you feel that Diamond Head isn’t a good enough workout for you!
This hike is called “nature’s stairmaster” as it’s basically a stair climbing session straight up the mountain (crater).
The bus stop to get off for the Koko Head Trail is the same as the “safer” route noted above for Hanauma Bay. (map)
The best Koko Head bus stop used to be the bus stop just outside Hanauma Bay, but that was on the Oahu bus route 22 that has been canceled.
Time on bus from Waikiki to Koko Head bus stop: around 30 minutes
Transfers needed: None!
How close is the bus stop near Koko Head?
Once you get off the bus stop, it will be about a 20 minute walk to get to the Koko Crater Railway trailhead. Consider this a part of the hike!
Because you will see Koko Head not so far away, it can make you feel like you are starting the hike pretty much as soon as you get off the bus!
Bus to Manoa Falls Trail
Manoa Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls on Oahu as a tourist attraction.
Despite being pretty close to Honolulu, to reach the Manoa Falls Trail by bus will probably require a bus transfer coming from Waikiki.
This is because the road to get to the trailhead is through a residential neighborhood.
Generally speaking, residential areas will have less bus routes passing through them.
Manoa is also home to the University of Hawaii’s primary campus.
Time on bus from Waikiki to Manoa Falls Trail bus stop: around 20-30 minutes
Transfers needed: Probably 1 transfer
How close is the bus stop near Manoa Falls Trail?
You’ll walk another 10-15 minutes or so up the road to get to the trailhead.
You’ll pass by a shop, a parking lot for Manoa Falls (fee for parking), the Lyon Arboretum, and then you’ll get to the start of the Manoa Falls Trail.
The shop is more like a little rest area with a convenience store and bathrooms, which you can use no problem.
Bus to Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail
If you’ll be in Oahu during whale season, Makapuu Lighthouse Trail could be one of your best chances for seeing whales without going on a tour.
But whale season or not, this is a paved coastal trail that offers you scenic ocean views much of the time you’re on the path.
This isn’t the safest place to get to by bus.
The walk from the Sea Life Park bus stop to the start of the trail doesn’t have sidewalks, so you’re walking on the shoulder of the road with cars zooming past you.
It’s not that unsafe that it will stop you from going here by bus, but you’ll just want to be careful.
Time on bus from Waikiki to Makapuu Lighthouse Trail bus stop: around 40-50 minutes
Transfers needed: None!
How close is the bus stop near Makapuu Lighthouse Trail?
From the bus stop at Sea Life Park, it’s about a 15 minute walk to get to the start of the trail.
It will be a scenic walk to get to the trail too!
Bus to Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach is a famous white sand beach on Oahu from which you can see the famous Mokulua Islands.
There is also a popular hiking trail nearby, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, that will also give you a view of the twin islands.
It’s not as convenient to get to Lanikai by bus as the other hiking trails and snorkeling spot mentioned so far, and it will also take more time.
Time on bus from Waikiki to Lanikai Beach bus stop: around 1 hour 15 minutes
Transfers: 1-2 transfers possible
How close is the bus stop near Lanikai Beach?
This depends on which bus you end up on.
There is a bus that will drop you pretty much right at Lanikai Beach. (This likely is the option with 2 transfers.)
There’s another bus route that may require a 10-15 minute walk to get to Lanikai Beach.
Bus to the North Shore
The North Shore is an area of Oahu that would be a solid day trip from Waikiki.
You can find many things to do on the North Shore to fill up your day.
If you’re taking the bus up to the North Shore, be prepared to walk a lot, or consider renting a bicycle when you’re up there as another fun way to explore this coast.
Time on bus from Waikiki to North Shore: around 2 hours
Transfers needed: Likely 1
How close is the bus stop near the North Shore?
There are a number of bus stop on the main road that runs along the North Shore coast.
So how close you’ll be able to get your first stop on the North Shore will depend on where you’re starting!
Bus to Dole Plantation
Getting to the Dole Plantation by bus from Waikiki also does take time.
But you are in the state where pineapples are famous, so how can you not go to the central location of it all?!
And then there is that famous Dole whip. 😉
If you are ambitious (or rather, patient with your time on the bus and waiting for the bus), you can also head to the North Shore after your visit to the Dole Plantation.
As long as you start your day early and don’t plan to spend all day at the Dole Plantation, it can be realistic.
Time on bus from Waikiki to Dole Plantation: around 1 hour 40 minutes
Transfers: 1 bus transfer
How close is the bus stop near Dole Plantation?
When you get off the bus, you are basically there!
There’s a bus stop that is basically right across from the Dole Plantation.
Bus to Polynesian Cultural Center
I am all for taking the bus on Oahu!
But I would say the bus is not one of the best ways to get to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
If you are planning to be at the Polynesian Cultural Center through the end of the evening show (the fire show that is entertaining!), it is really better to spend the extra money and pay for the shuttle when you book your tickets, I think.
But, if you won’t be spending all day and evening at the Polynesian Cultural Center, or you are just committed to taking the bus, it is possible to do so!
Time on bus from Waikiki to Polynesian Cultural Center: around 2 hours
Transfers needed: 1 transfer
How close is the bus stop near the Polynesian Cultural Center?
There’s a bus stop basically right in front of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Bus to Honolulu Airport
Time on bus from Waikiki to airport: around 2 hours
Transfers needed: Probably none!
How close is the bus stop near the airport?
There are bus stops within the airport grounds area.
It’s possible to be dropped off right in front of the departures area.
Or it might require a 5-10 minute walk. Or maybe that’s just me because I got off at the wrong stop. 😉
So to make sure you won’t have to walk extra, set your google map destination for the departures area! (Or ask the bus driver.)
And that’s a bit of what you can expect from traveling by bus from Waikiki!
If it’s your first time taking the bus on Oahu, be sure to see more about taking the bus on Oahu!
Headed to Maui?! You can make day trips by bus on Maui too!
HAPPY OAHU BUS RIDE FROM WAIKIKI!
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