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Hawaii Travel Assignment: What do I do for Transportation?

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A travel therapy or nursing assignment in Hawaii can be a dream come true for any traveling healthcare professional.  But once the initial excitement of getting the job is over, reality sets in. How do you get there? What do you pack? Where do you live? What do you do for transportation?

Here are a few good options for transportation in the Aloha State.  

Ship Your Car From the Mainland

Shipping your car may be a good option if you will be staying in Hawaii for more than 3 months. Otherwise,  you will likely have to pay for car storage if you leave your car behind. Remember that it takes time to travel to Hawaii.  It can take 5-7 days to cross the Pacific and then more time if your car has to stop at a main port (Honolulu) and then ship to another port.  When determining price, remember to include the cost of a rental car in your shipping budget.

There are boats that leave from the west coast that will ship cars to all islands of Hawaii.  The cost is around $900-$1000+ one way, therefore costing upwards of $2000 per round trip. If you are on the west coast, this may be a reasonable option.

Companies that ship to Hawaii include: Pasha Hawaii, Matson, and Hawaii Car Transport.

Buy an Island Car/Moped and Sell When you Leave

“Island Cars” refer to the beat up, older cars that run for hundreds of thousands of miles on the islands.  They get passed around from owner to owner as people come and go off of the islands. You can buy an island car for as little as $2,000 (I have seen less but I would anticipate at least that much) or a moped for as little as a couple of hundred dollars.  

The issue with island cars is that they are what they are.  They are older cars with a lot of miles. You could have to deal with any number of maintenance issues while you are driving them.

The great thing about island cars is that they really do not depreciate in price.  If you buy a car for $3,000, you will probably be able to sell it for $3,000 when you leave.  The problem is that selling the car when you leave takes time and you may be on a time crunch to leave the island.  

Places to buy a car: Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace (per your island/town) and groups specific to each island have a constant sale of cars.  Be cautious of scams and never buy sight unseen.  Most buyers will want cash only, no checks.  

Island cars

Take Public Transit (Honolulu)

Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is the medical hub of Hawaii.  The city has a wonderful public transit bus system that connects the city to most of the hospitals.  

Queens Medical Center, Straub Clinic, Kuakini Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center are all on major Honolulu bus routes.  If you are working in one of those medical centers, consider finding housing on a bus route. You can buy monthly bus passes from 7-11 and ABC stores.  The passes do sell out, so try to buy a couple of days before the first of the month.

Note for night shifters, as of April 2018, the #2 bus is the only bus that runs 24 hours. 

The Bus running through Honolulu


Walk or Ride a Bike (Honolulu)

In Honolulu, it is also possible to walk or ride your bike to work, depending on your location.  If you are living and working in the city, consider getting your exercise by burning calories to and from work.

a women in scrubs walking on the payment

Rent a Car

There are many options for renting cars in Hawaii. This may be something that you want to negotiate into your contract with your agency. Many travelers choose to rent a car while on the islands.  Coordinate with your staffing agency to see if they can find you any deals on car rentals.  A car rental may cost upward of $800/month depending on the island. If you are lucky, you may find a local who rents island cars to travelers as part of a housing package, or at a lower rate (more like $450/month).  Check Craiglist, Facebook, etc for local deals.

If you decided to take public transit to work and still want the island experience of having a car, you can easily rent cars on your days off.  Enterprise Car Share & Zipcar (Honolulu only) allow rentals by the hour. These services are perfect if you need to run some errands or do a half day excursion.

Grab a cab, Uber or Lyft

Popular ride sharing services, Uber and Lyft, are available on Oahu, The Big Island, Maui and Kauai.  Cabs also frequent the streets. If you need a ride to and from work, make sure to specify your pick up location. In the mazes of hospitals, drivers can easily get lost trying to pick up riders!

Transportation in Hawaii can seem overwhelming but with proper planning, it can be a breeze. Determine what your needs are and what makes sense for your schedule and budget.  From shipping your car, to buying, renting or taking the bus, there are many options to get around on the islands. If you have any questions about Honolulu or Oahu, please feel free to contact me!

For More On Hawaii:

What to Pack For Your Hawaii Travel Assignment

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4 thoughts on “Hawaii Travel Assignment: What do I do for Transportation?”

  1. Bought a car for $3200 and sold it for $3000. I listed it two weeks before I left and had 45 replies… so probably could have got the full amount but the buyer waited the two weeks to get the car. Thanks for your article – I otherwise wouldn’t have know this was possible!

    1. That’s incredible! Thank you so much for reporting this success story! It’s great to hear travelers using this blog to help them save money!

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