The Lihue Airport is Kauai’s only airport offering flights to the other local islands of Hawaii and the mainland and international flights to and from other countries. The airport is located on the southeast coast of Kaua in Lihue with several airlines operating domestic and international flights.
Million of passengers per year use the Lihue Airport, and many of these travelers rent a car when they arrive in Kauai. A rental car is the best way to see all this beautiful island has to offer, from breathtaking beaches to lush jungles. We visited the Kauai airport after using Hawaiian Airlines to fly in from the Kona airport in Big Island.
This airport was much bigger than what we expected. We rented a car to get around, and driving in Kauai wasn’t much different than anywhere else in the United States.
This complete guide to the best car rentals at the Lihue Airport in Kauai shares all the best companies you can go with. From the company’s location and the brand to the types of cars you can rent.
One of the best ways to save money when renting a car in Kauai is by booking with Hawaii Discount Car. They work with all the major companies we cover below and show you a simple way to secure the cheapest car or whatever specific requirements you want.
Dollar’s Lihue Airport rental desk is located around the corner from the Enterprise office on Mokulele Loop. Dollar is also a large, well-established brand and as such offers a good range of vehicles.
We chose to go with Dollar for our vacation since they offered us the cheapest car when we found them on Discount Hawaii Car Rental. We ended up getting a Nissan Sentra. If you want to learn more about the company, read our Discount Hawaii Car Rental review.
Unfortunately, the Nissan Sentra ran into engine issues a few days into our vacation, and we had to drive back to the Lihue Airport to exchange cars for a Buick Encore. The customer service was pretty good, and they immediately sent out a tow truck for us when we called them. But since we couldn’t ride with the tow truck back to the airport and not wanting to pay for an Uber to take us there, the driver said it was okay to simply drive the vehicle after inspecting it.
Like Thrifty, Dollar is actually owned by the Hertz Corporation. The American brand dates from the mid-1960s and has the buying power to offer lots of choices. As with other large car rental companies, prices tend to be fairly competitive true to their name.
At the Kauai Airport, Dollar offers a wide selection of cars for hire. You can rent a compact or economy car to save money or opt for something like a luxury SUV or sports car if you’d prefer to go all out. The guy at the rental counter offered to upgrade us to a convertible, but we declined.
The Enterprise car rental counter at Lihue Airport can be found on Hoolimalima Place. Once you pass through baggage claim, you can cross the road outside the terminal to reach the shuttle pick-up spot. We found that waiting for a shuttle only takes like 5 to 10 minutes since the company buildings are close and all around each other.
Enterprise Rent-a-Car is one of the world’s biggest car rental brands. The American company is owned by Enterprise Holdings, which also owns National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-a-Car.
While Enterprise might not always offer the cheapest cars at Lihue Airport, the location is very convenient. You can also choose from a wide selection of vehicles.
Whether you feel like cruising around in a convertible or getting a 4WD for accessing more remote places, Enterprise has the power to provide the perfect car for your Hawaiian vacation.
The Hertz counter is situated on Hoolimalima Place, close to the other outlets. Offering long opening hours, it’s a convenient place to pick up a car whether you arrive on Kauai at 5 am or 10 pm.
Hertz is the biggest name of the Hertz Corporation, which also owns Thrifty Car Rental. The company thus provides a good selection of new rental cars, from compact cars to larger, more luxurious vehicles.
Price-wise, Hertz varies, just like any other big brand. Sometimes they’ll offer the most competitive rates. Or you may not mind paying more for the convenience of driving something nice. That way you can head off exploring straight away!
Rent a Wreck
Rent a Wreck in Kauai offers an airport shuttle from the airport. To save its customers cash, Rent a Wreck specializes in vehicles that have previously been used. These may have been in private ownership or hired out by other companies.
It’s not really about renting a wreck as the name is more for attention-grabbing and marketing purposes than anything. Though it’s one of the biggest used car rental companies in the world, you can hire all kinds of vehicles through Rent a Wreck.
One downside to using Rent a Wreck is that the Kauai office is based on Oihana Street. This is away from the car rental loop at the airport, but the company does provide a courtesy shuttle to pick you up during business hours.
Rent a Wreck stands out for several reasons. They offer what they call island style cars so that you don’t stand out as a tourist. You also tend to pay less for them.
Each compact sedan accommodates five adults plus their luggage. If you want something different, you can hire a more spacious SUV or minivan. Anyone between 21 and 25 pays the same rate as older renters, and you also get to add an additional driver for free.
Ali’i Rental Cars is located off the airport on Niumalu Road. Again this isn’t a problem, since the company provides a shuttle service to their office. It’s only five-minute drive from the Kauai airport.
Cleanliness is a priority for Ali’i, which carefully cleans everything between rentals to ensure a pleasant experience. They can also guarantee Jeeps, so if that’s what you’ve dreamt of driving when visiting Hawaii, then they are the right choice. Jeeps are also the best cars to use for Kauai when driving to places like Waimea Canyon for a hike.
Do note that a two-day minimum booking period applies to all Ali’i customers. They charge no fees for an additional driver, all cars are automatic, and you can also run up unlimited mileage during your stay.
All Ali’i cars can be booked via the Turo platform and are available for collection from their office on Niumalu Road.
Kauai Car Rental FAQ
How Much Does A Car Rental In Kauai Cost?
A car rental is more than likely your second biggest expense after choosing a resort for a vacation on the island. We paid just $450 for a two-week rental that easily fit the two of us and our luggage. This was much less than the $900 we paid for a rental car at the Big Island Kona airport with Budget.
The cost all comes down to the season and how far in advance you book. We booked this one around a month in advance while we booked the car for Big Island perhaps about a week in advance hence the big price difference.
Does The Lihue Airport Have Rental Cars?
Various major and local car rental companies can be found at the Kauai Airport. You can pick up your rental car by taking a shuttle to the given outlet on the road. Each company has a shuttle with its name on it, so you will know which one is yours. Vehicles can be returned behind each rental car office without checking in again. This was quite handy for us since the lines for these places can get long at certain times.
Do I Need A Car For Kauai?
While it’s not absolutely necessary to rent a car in Kauai, having access to a vehicle means it’s so much easier to get around and see stuff. Without a car, you will need to rely on either a bus system that isn’t really aimed at tourists or Uber and Lyft, which can get expensive if you want to visit places farther outside of where you’re staying. We stayed in Poipu, so the 30-minute taxi or Uber ride from the Lihue airport wouldn’t have been cheap.
When you want to access trailheads, beaches, or other beautiful spots, having your own set of wheels really helps make the most of your visit. Renting a car in Kauai isn’t that expensive either.
Do I Need Car Rental Insurance in Kauai?
Typically you would be covered by your existing insurance already, but the definitive answer really depends on the particular insurance plan. To be certain that you’re sorted, check the policy with your existing insurance and the car rental agreement carefully before driving away. If you use a travel credit card, many of these already have built-in insurance for car rentals.
How Is Driving On Kauai?
Driving around Kauai is not difficult. It’s relatively easy, and the roads tend to be pretty smooth, depending on the area. There are scenic sights all around you with beautiful coastlines and mountain views. No matter where we drove to in Kauai, we always had a bright green mountain visible to us and we also found some beautiful roads like the one below.
They don’t call it the Garden Isle for nothing, it really is green all around. You just need to be a bit more careful driving at night since there are no street lights on the Kauai roads.