Getting around Kauai is straightforward. Renting a car on Kauai is essential unless you plan on staying put at your vacation rental or resort. A rental car is the best option for getting around Kauai. Your transportation will allow you to explore the island on your schedule. You can also use Taxi Services or the Kauai Bus as an optional mode of transportation.

Driving on Kauai offers a unique and scenic experience through diverse landscapes, from lush valleys to dramatic coastlines.

Here’s what to expect when driving on the island:

  1. Road Conditions: Most roads on Kauai are well-maintained, but some may be narrow and winding, especially along the coast and through mountainous regions. Be prepared for occasional potholes and rough patches, particularly on less-traveled routes.
  2. Traffic: Traffic on Kauai is generally lighter compared to urban areas, but it can still be congested during peak tourist seasons or in popular tourist areas like Kapaa and Poipu. Plan your routes accordingly, especially if you’re traveling during rush hours.
  3. Speed Limits: Speed limits are enforced on the island, and they can vary depending on the area. Be sure to obey posted speed signs, especially in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
  4. One-Lane Bridges: Kauai is home to several one-lane bridges, especially on the scenic North Shore. Take turns with oncoming traffic and yield to pedestrians as you cross these bridges.
  5. Scenic Routes: Kauai boasts some of the most picturesque driving routes in Hawaii, including the stunning Kalalau Lookout on the Na Pali Coast and the breathtaking Waimea Canyon Drive. Take your time to enjoy the views and pull over at designated lookout points for photo opportunities.
  6. Parking: Parking may be limited in popular tourist areas, so arrive early or consider using public transportation or ridesharing services if parking is scarce.
  7. Local Etiquette: Respect local customs and be courteous to other drivers and pedestrians. Use your horn sparingly and yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.
  8. Explore Off the Beaten Path: While main roads like the Kuhio Highway and Kaumualii Highway offer access to major attractions, don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and explore lesser-known areas of the island. You may discover hidden beaches, scenic overlooks, and charming towns along the way.

Overall, driving on Kauai is a rewarding experience that allows you to explore the island’s natural beauty and cultural heritage at your own pace. Take your time, enjoy the journey, and soak in the breathtaking scenery that makes Kauai truly unforgettable.

Check here for a Highway cheat sheet:

Drive Time & Distance

  • From Lihue To:
  • Kapaa 11 miles 20 min
  • Princeville 28 miles 45 min
  • Hanalei 32 miles 50 min
  • Poipu 13 miles 25 min
  • Port Allen 20 miles 35 min
  • Waimea 25 miles 52 min
  • Kokee State Park 40 miles 1 hr 30 min
  • From Princeville To:
  • Kapaa 22 miles 35 min
  • Lihue 30 miles 51 min
  • Poipu 43 miles 1 hr 14 min
  • Port Allen 46 miles 1 hr 20 min
  • Waimea 52 miles 1 hr 45 min
  • Kokee State Park 69 miles 2 hr 10 min
  • Haena 12 miles 30 min
  • From Poipu To:
  • Lihue 13 miles 25 min
  • Kapaa 23 miles 45 min
  • Princevillle 43 miles 1 hr 14 min
  • Hanalei 45 miles 1 hr 20 min
  • Port Allen 12 miles 23 min
  • Waimea 19 miles 35 min
  • Kokee State Park 36 miles 1 hr 20 min
  • From Kapaa To:
  • Princeville 22 miles 35 min
  • Hanalei 26 miles 1 hr
  • Lihue 11 miles 20 min
  • Poipu 23 miles 45 min
  • Port Allen 27 miles 50 min
  • Waimea 34 miles 1 hr
  • Kokee State Park 50 miles 1hr 45

Hwy Cheat Sheet (nicknames)

  • Hwy 50 Kaumuali`i Hwy
  • Hwy 51 Kapule Hwy
  • Hwy 56 Kuhio Hwy
  • Hwy 58 Nawiliwili Road
  • Hwy 529 Maluhia Road ( Tunnel Of Trees)
  • Hwy 530 Koloa Road
  • Hwy 540 Halewili Rd
  • Hwy 550 Waimea Canyon Drive
  • Hwy 552 Kokee Road
  • Hwy 560 Kuhio Hwy (continuation of Hwy 56)
  • Hwy 570 Ahukini Road
  • Hwy 580 Kuamo`o
  • Hwy 581 Kamalu Road – Olohena Road
  • Hwy 583 Ma`alo Road

Tips for the Road

Remember you are on vacation, and driving on Kauai is unlike driving on the mainland. Our roadways, for the most part, are two lanes with little or no shoulder.  Please use caution and be respectful of pedestrians and bicyclists.  Kauai is a small island community. Locals are a little more relaxed and casual. It is our custom to show aloha, including on the roads. It may be a small gesture of letting others in line ahead of us or slowing down to allow a waiting car onto the roadways. Honking is usually used only to warn of hazards or danger, not to tell someone to hurry up.

  • Traffic and Slowdowns Like anywhere, Kauai experiences our share of traffic due to road construction, accidents, weather, and just normal pau hana (after-work) traffic. If you are driving and need to know what is happening on the roads, tune into Kong Radio. Traffic updates and advisories are broadcast on 93.5 FM and AM 570. Kappa traffic can be avoided by using the alternate bypass roads. Show aloha, and please don’t display anger on our roads. Take a deep breath and relax on your vacation. Remember to drive slowly and enjoy Kauai and all the beautiful attractions and views Kauai has to offer.
  • One-lane bridges are mostly found on the island’s north shore from Hanalei to Haena. There are several one-lane bridges you will need to cross.
  • The local protocol is to proceed across the bridges 5-7 cars simultaneously. Priority is given to vehicles that arrive at the yield first. Stay in the middle of the bridges, and if a train of more than 7 cars is crossing, yield and let the waiting cars through.
  • Seat Belt and Booster Laws Hawaii law requires a seat belt for all passengers; children till the age of eight or 80 lbs. must be in a child safety seat or booster.
  • Cell Phones While Driving Cell phone usage without a hands-free device is prohibited.

The island is circular, with one main road connecting the North Shore and West Side. You cannot drive completely around the island, the rugged and beautiful Na Pali Coast makes that impossible. Drive through quaint coastal towns and rural upcountry neighborhoods while exploring Kauai. When on vacation, add to the fun by renting a convertible, exotic rental, or 4wd Jeep, or really be adventurous with a Harley Davidson rental and go home with a story. Keep Kauai Green by renting a bike or taking the Kauai Bus. Every bit counts, especially on an island.