Should we hire a car when our cruise ship stops in Hawaii?
MY FAMILY OF FIVE (AGES 55, 49, 21, 21, 18) ARE SAILING TO HAWAII FOR A WEEK OVER CHRISTMAS. THE SHIP STOPS AT MAUI AND KAUAI FOR TWO NIGHTS EACH AND AT ONE NIGHT AT HILO AND KONA. THE SHIP OFFERS MANY EXCURSIONS BUT I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE MORE ECONOMICAL TO HIRE A CAR AND DO AT LEAST SOME OF THE TRIPS OURSELVES, OR WITH A LOCAL YOUR OPERATOR. WE ARE KEEN TO SNORKEL, TAKE IN SOME CULTURAL EXPERIENCES, BEACH ETC. ALSO,CAN YOU RECOMMEND SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR NEW YEARS EVE IN HONOLULU?
Hiring a car and driving yourselves around is a great idea. Car hire rates are modest throughout most of the Hawaiian Islands, driving is easy and with that many people, you’ll save heaps over a guided tour. You can also tailor your travels exactly to your own interests. Since the ship is on the Big Island for two nights, in Hilo and Kona, you might be better off driving from one side of the island to the other rather than sailing.
Hawaii is a no-fault state, and you need collision-damage insurance or you will be required to pay for all damages before you leave the state in the event of an accident, whether or not you are at fault. This insurance will add US$12-20 to your daily hire cost.
On New Years Eve, Waikiki is the place to be in Honolulu. Waikiki Beach hosts a midnight fireworks show from a barge anchored just offshore. The show is free, but there are also plenty of pay-for events, such as the “Party of the Year” at Kaka’ako Waterfront Park, which offers live music, DJs and a carnival atmosphere, at a moderate price. Or you could go upmarket with the Pink Party at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which also offers a front-row seat on the Waikiki Beach fireworks display. The legal age for the consumption of alcohol in Hawaii is 21.
This question and answer first appeared in The Tripologist column of Fairfax’s Traveller. Read more at www.traveller.com.au