Most visitors will be arriving Kauai at Lihue Airport. This
airport offers direct flights from the mainland of the USA and
overseas destinations. Additionally, inter-island flights
frequent Lihue Airport. If you have a window seat on the
airplane, you will notice the blue waters and beaches on arrival -
but most notable is the rugged, green terrain on Kauai. This
airport is simple, efficient, and visually pleasing. It is
almost the spitting image of the Hilo Airport in uncanny detail!
Most of the airport is open-air and features Hawaiian art and
decorations. You will quickly arrive at baggage claim and move
on to transportation.
If you are renting a vehicle, you may be
in for a long wait. For some reason, the rental car companies
at Lihue are horribly inefficient even though they are well-manned.
Additionally, the rental car desks are not adjacent the terminal and
will require a short shuttle bus ride to get to (and anther ride
back when you return your rental car). Most recently, we had
our reservations through Hertz and it took over an hour to get our
car - even for the Hertz Gold members!
Find the lowest rates on Kauai rental cars.
Driving Around Kauai
First, we want to strongly recommend that you rent a vehicle for
your stay in Kauai. Kauai's public transportation system is
not very robust and many of the attractions on the island are spread
out requiring you to drive - sometimes more than an hour at a time.
Kauai is not a large island, but it can take a long time to drive
around. Kauai has one major road that circumnavigates most of
the island - Route 50 to the south and Route 56 to the north.
This road is only one lane each direction with next to no shoulder
and the speed limit is between 35 and 50 MPH. Roads do not
form a complete circle around the island because road workers were
never able to pave a road across the Alakai Swamp; thus the road is
one long line from Polihale Beach to Ke'e Beach. Parts of the
road are windy, with many side views of beaches along the coast, and
it traverses many one-lane bridges in the northern part of the
Because of the fact that the roads are only two lanes wide,
traffic can be brutal - especially at Pau Hana Time (Hawaiian phrase
meaning "quit work time"). Moreover, the roads are not well
marked on Kauai with minimal road signs and next to no signs
labeling towns, beaches, attractions, or trailheads. Before
setting out on your drive, do a thorough route-study and arm
yourself with a good map and if you have one - a GPS.
Here are some rough estimates for driving time in minutes:
Kauai Cruise Ships Port of Call
Some will also arrive via cruise ship at the port of Nawiliwili, on
Kauai's Coconut Coast (southeastern part of the island).
Dollar car rental company sends a courtesy shuttle to your cruise
ship dock and takes you back to the airport, where the vehicles are
located. Upon returning the rental car, the courtesy shuttle will
take you back to your originating dock. For reservations,
enter location code LIH for Lihue (a 10-15 minute shuttle bus
ride from the Nawiliwili Port.
View map of Nawiliwili.
Enter Location Code LIH
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