We Just Saved Additional 25% On Upcoming Hawaii Car Rental

Rideshare Roulette | Uber Hawaii Prices Might Blow Your Mind

Personal experiences yield some of the best article ideas, and our recent encounters with Uber in Hawaii may be an example. On Thursday, one of BOH’s editors needed a lift from the airport. There are taxis at all Hawaii airports, but they don’t come cheap. Then too, there are generally Uber drivers hovering in the area. Overall, those have worked well for us except when they aren’t available.

On multiple separate occasions during our recent travels, we’ve arrived at Hawaii airports, including HNL on Oahu, Kahului Airport on Mai, and on the Big Island and Kauai, planning to catch rides with a Hawaii Uber. Well, we were in for quite a shock when the Uber cost quote was revealed on their ride-hailing app. On one of the three occasions, by just waiting five minutes and trying again, we found the price had dropped from $164 to just $42. And this wasn’t during rush hours. On another occasion, we gave up on Uber entirely as that being the best option and instead hailed a cab. And in the last instance, when neither cabs nor Uber pickups were readily available, thinking flexibility, we started calling people we know for a ride. If that hadn’t worked, it would have been the bus system. This would not have been a good situation to be in for most Hawaii tourists!

Hawaii Uber prices vary by the minute.

We’ve found this can be true in other places worldwide, but none seem to change as capriciously with apparent surge pricing as in Hawaii, especially on the smaller islands.

Following are some of the rates we’ve recently encountered, based on standard rate pricing on the app for the following common Hawaii routes using uberx. The prices for larger cars were far higher – up to $275. We decided to check again a few minutes later to see how much the rates might fluctuate. As you can see, for some routes, the variance was quite extreme, and a Hawaii Uber wasn’t always the cheapest way to travel, even when there was an Uber available that was nearby.

Honolulu Airport to Prince Hotel Waikiki (20 minute trip): $22.91 on first try. $23.97 on next try. (4.6% difference)

Honolulu Airport to Ala Moana Hotel (20 minute trip): $22.45 on first try. $21.99 on next try. (2.0% difference)

Honolulu Airport to Hilton Hawaiian Village (25 minutes): $49.93 on first try. $23.92 on next try. (109% difference)

Lihue Airport to Grand Hyatt Kauai (30 minutes): $56.91 on first try. $60.95 on next try. (7.0% difference)

Lihue Airport to Sheraton Kapaa (15 minutes): $85.98 on first try. $21.96 on next try. (292% difference)

Lihue Airport to Sheraton Poipu (30 minutes): $163.91 on first try. $41.96 on next try. (291% difference)

Maui Airport to Wailea Beach Resort (40 minutes): $66.91 on first try. $43.94 on next try. (52% difference)

Hawaii Uber drivers cancel routes – or just never show up.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said recently that the issue here is simply that drivers don’t want the ride. We’ve found this to be true on both Lift and Uber. “That’s the most common reason for cancellation. It’s a destination that they didn’t want to go to,” said Khosrowshahi. It seems that Uber drivers wanted to know where they were going before accepting a ride, so the company has now provided that option.

Uber employs AI to calculate estimated driver pick-up and arrival times and provide different service selections. But that certainly hasn’t seemed to help us, as we continue to find Uber rather frustrating some of the time. Editor Jeff says he simply doesn’t trust them to actually show up. One of the issues is that Hawaii has a lot of remote areas of the islands, and drivers don’t feel confident at times that they’ll have a pickup on the way back. That’s even true traveling to resort areas themselves.

You can see the driver’s location on the map after the ride is accepted, and we have had several maddening experiences where the driver says they’re coming to pick us up, but the map shows that they are, in fact not even coming in our direction! Their estimated arrival time keeps getting later and later until we give up and try something else out of desperation.

Uber’s CEO says of its app and communications, “Right now, the communications are standard. … There’s a bit of personalization. The next generation AI will create a personal relationship between Uber and you.” Jeff says – thanks but no thanks.

And one last trick we use for Hawaii rideshare services.

And lastly, there’s another thing we’ve found that sometimes works for rideshares in Hawaii. We used to use just Uber, but recently when that failed us, we started trying Lyft. And that worked some of the time. The pool of drivers can vary between these rideshare companies. So recently, editor Jeff started hailing both on Uber and Lyft simultaneously. Whoever starts coming his way, he keeps, while whichever one is more expensive or where the driver never gets closer, he cancels.

Bottom line: Is Uber effective in Hawaii?

Overall, Uber can be great as a convenient, easy-to-use, and reasonably priced transportation option in Hawaii. That’s especially true when traveling to or from airports and between popular tourist areas, and in Honolulu.

Availability for Hawaii Uber varies dramatically but various factors, as indicated above. Sometimes wait times can be extreme, or you may not get a ride at all.

Hawaii Uber surge pricing at peak times and when driver availability is low can be extreme.

Consider alternative options, including buses, taxis, shuttles, Lyft, and local rideshare Holoholo. While Uber is common in Hawaii, these other transportation alternatives are worth considering.

What we’ve learned is to have a plan b and a plan c backup plan to get where we’re going.

Leave a Comment

Comment policy:
* No profanity, rudeness, personal attacks, or bullying.
* Hawaii focused only. General comments won't be published.
* No links or UPPER CASE text. English please.
* No duplicate posts or using multiple names.
* Use a real first name, last initial.
* Comments edited/published/responded to at our discretion.
* Beat of Hawaii has no relationship with our commentors.
* 750 character limit.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

6 thoughts on “Rideshare Roulette | Uber Hawaii Prices Might Blow Your Mind”

  1. You should consider using Holoholo, it’s a locally-owned competitor to Uber & Lyft. I think it was developed by the owner of SpeediShuttle. They don’t charge surge pricing! rideholoholo.com

  2. I have used Lyft and it worked well for me. There was only one shuttle at HNL ariport and it was $60, so we called Lyft and the driver came within 5 minutes and we paid $25 to the Outrigger in Waikiki.

  3. Aloha editors,

    Trying to get a ride from Lihue airport can be frustrating but I just call a taxi. They are waiting on the airport property a few minutes away. I also caution people visiting that if they have a timed arrival necessary, like for a boat tour or activity, do Not rely on Uber or Lyft. Our local taxi drivers have a set rate and this is what they do for a living. This is how they feed their kids. Mahalo

    1. Taxis on Kauai can be tricky. I fly to/from island often and always need a lift to/from lihui airport and Poipu. On cruise ship days, taxis are impossible to get because they are taking the lucrative passenger gigs. When i can’t get shared rides from the airport I’ll try a taxi. Taxis tend to want cash only, so have a bunch of $20s in your pocket and enjoy the response when you request change. Taxi drives say they have set rates, but they will try to run the meter in you. Once a taxi driver took a right on the highway from the airport to Poipu. He circled around lihui and the drove to kikui’ula shopping to get to near the Hyatt. Usually $56 cab ride went $76. Set rates might be posted, or might not be.

      Lyft pays better than Uber in the island. Have both apps available. When your plane comes in, expect peak pricing to happen. $38 to Poipu might turn into $280. Hope your baggage comes out early or just wait 20 minutes on the bench for prices to return

      Uber app will show the driver locations, but many times won’t commit them to you. So you might be left waiting even though there are 4 near the airport. Lyft app will tell you that the driver has been contacted but finalizing ride and then will wait. I’ve never had the same driver twice in Kauai. And many times I get very new drivers that don’t know where to go to pick up from the airport.
      Speedishuttle is hit and miss too. Sometimes they don’t show at the home. Then report that I wasn’t there. I learned that they can show up to 15 minutes earlier than the time arranged and stay 5 minutes and then leave. And that 15 minutes was 30 one time as I went to the street early and the driver was pulling away. Even when waiting early, sometimes they don’t show and say I wasn’t there. Sometimes speedishuttle double books and then calls a cab or a driver for you.

      If at a hotel, probably won’t be an issue.

      What to do? always a worry. But I always get a ride somehow even if I have to walk to Kauai beer to wait for a lyft.

  4. This article was helpful. I’m planning a visit to Hawaii in September and this information will help me with my decisions regarding the various ride share services.

Scroll to Top