There is but one commercial airport on Kauai, in Lihu’e, where inter-island and mainland flights land. There are two smaller airports used primarily for private aircraft, Burns Field in Hanapepe and Princeville Airport. If you’ve got a connecting flight from a neighbor island, such as O’ahu, it’s just a short stint to Lihu’e (roughly 20 minutes from Honolulu). A couple things to keep in mind when traveling to and from the mainland: First: Hawai’i is rabies-free, which means pets aren’t allowed without proper paperwork. Secondly, produce or any agricultural products must be declared and could be confiscated. For more info: 808-483-7151; www.hawaii.gov/lih
Though an inter-island ferry system was proposed back in 2007 with the backing of Hawai’i Gov. Linda Lingle, it was met with great animosity by whale and sealife activists and preservationists alike, as well as a number of people up in arms over the lack of the state’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on the project. Kauai residents were among the most vocal in their dissent against the “Superferry” and turned back the boat following an infamous protest in Nawiliwili Harbor Aug. 26, 2007 in Lihu’e. That said, there is still yet to be a boat service transporting anything more than cargo offered for getting to and from the outer islands, with the exception of cruise ships. The two popular cruise lines frequenting Nawiliwili Harbor are Holland America Cruise Line and Princess Cruises.
Regarding Kauai transportation, Kauai does offer a bus service on the island that keeps a timely schedule. However, though it is ADA compliant and has such amenities as bike racks, the service is small and limited in hours, frequency and size. Keep in mind that surfboards and oversized backpacks aren’t allowed, and the same goes for smoking, eating and drinking. Fares for the general public are $2/trip or $.50 on the shuttle; seniors (60 years and over) and youth (7-18 years old) ride for $1/trip and $.25/shuttle. Hours are 5:15AM to 7:15PM Monday through Friday, irregular schedule Saturday, no service Sunday. For more information, call 808-241-6410.
Driving is your best option for Kauai transportation and, quite honestly, your only option. Fortunately there are numerous rental car companies at the airport and the island is easy to navigate with two highways that form a belt road and the rest forming spokes running inland (“mauka”) and to the sea (“makai”). The island is small so you can only get so lost. Don’t’ pull sudden U-turns if you pass your destination. Just find the next safe intersection to turn around. If someone lets you in, it’s customary to give the “shaka” sign (pinky and thumb salute) as a thank you instead of a wave. You may hear locals complain about “rush hour” traffic: slowed cars on the Wailua bridge, the kind of traffic visitors from large cities will likely find laughable.
The only public Kauai transportation is the Kauai bus. For more information, call 808-241-6410.
There are a few taxi services on the island, many of which function more as private tour vehicles. Your hotel concierge can call one. Don’t count on hailing a cab from the curb. In general, unless you are in a group or looking to be chauffeured around, taxis aren’t the way to go. If you absolutely need a cab, try Southshore Cab 808- 742-1525; Akiko’s Taxi, 808-822-7588; or, for the North Shore, try North Shore Cab, 808-826-4118.