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The Bus: Hawaii Activities with a Local Commute

While it might seem cool driving the convertible Ferrari around the island, it isn’t exactly the most cost effective option and might even eat up the budget that could otherwise be used for fun Hawaii activities. For those who are budget conscious, know that Hawaii has one of the best public bus systems in the nation, simply named The Bus – very original, right?  Once you obtain a The Bus routes and schedules, you will see that it is the most cost-effective way to get around the island.

A round-trip bus daily fare rate is $5.00.  But, for unlimited travel during a 10- day visit, Hawaii bus pass rates are a mere $60 for a month of unlimited use.  Kids under the age of 5 are free and kids between 5 and 17 are half the price of parents.

For one-way and round-trip fares, there is “transfer” coupon that allows a pit stop for sightseeing or grabbing a bite to eat.   Scope routes ahead of time, for the best local pit stops.

So, where do bus routes go?  Everywhere a local would commute to and from for not only work, but also for play.  There are literally unlimited options for Hawaii activities from the bus route.  It’s easy too!   Always have the Hawaii’s bus schedule on your smart phone with The Bus App.  Check out our list of must-stops around the island of Oahu just minutes from Waikiki with some of the best Hawaii activities just steps from The Bus stop.

Arizona Memorial

arizona memorial at pearl harbor

From Waikiki, it would take approximately 35-40 minutes to arrive at the Arizona Memorial, one of Hawaii’s most popular activities.  With a bus leaving approximately every 20 minutes, you don’t need to plan your day to the minute to get to one of America’s most historic and emotional memorials.   Though you do need to have some flexibility, we do advise that you purchase your boat tickets to the memorial in advance as they only allow so many during the day.  You can do that here

The Arizona Memorial sits in Pearl Harbor, directly above the USS Arizona, where more than 1100 sailors remain entombed in the sunken vessel.  The power of the memorial is felt not just by Americans, but also by tourists from the world, including the thousands of Japanese tourists who visit the site annually. 

For history buffs, there is more than you can take in during a mere week on Oahu.  Check out our top picks here  All these internationally recognized Hawaiian activities are easily accessible via The Bus.

Waikele Premium Outlets

If you continue on The Bus westward (Leeward bound), you can enjoy shopping at the Waikele Premium Outlets in Waikele near Waipahu.  This is a short 30 minute local commute through local cities, like Pearl City, where you will find a working watercress farm tucked between buildings at the Pearlridge Mall. By the time you get to Waikele, you will have a good sense of the local communities outside of the Waikiki bustle, tourist hot spots and Hawaiian activities.

Once at the Outlet Mall, you will be able to shop until your heart is content at stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Swarovski and Kate Spade.  But you, my price savvy traveller, still won’t want to pay retail for anything and everything.  Make sure you like the Waikele Premium Outlets on Facebook to score some deals, deepening your pockets.

Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay, North Shore

As far as a day trip is concerned, Waimea Bay on the northern shore of Oahu is something to see.  Found next to the winter big waves of the North Shore’s Pipeline, you will certainly see huge swells during the winter, with waves exceeding 20-30 feet, so be careful.  But, during the summer, the bay is much more tame and great for less crazy surfers.  Waimea Bay is home to “Da Big Rock” which is accessible during most season’s low tide from the beach where kids and daring adults climb up and jump off.  It’s about a 30 foot leap of faith off the rock, but the landing is clear of reef or rocks, with the white sand bottom easily seen the entire way down. 

On this bus route, you should expect to travel clear through Central Oahu, seeing the acres of pineapple and other crops. In fact, time permitting, you can stop at the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa to taste-test and learn about the myriad of pineapple species that exist.  For a little more on the history of Dole Plantation, our audio file is perfect to listen to on The Bus commute.  From start to finish, it takes a good couple of hours to get to Waimea; plan accordingly with an early start and late finish.  The Bus schedule is subject to change, but you should still be able to catch the sunset at the beach before heading back to town.

Hanauma Bay

In the opposite direction is Hanauma Bay, voted the Best Beach in the United States for 2016 and you will easily see why.  It’s about 20 minutes on the bus just past Hawaii Kai, as the southern part of the island turns toward the eastern sheer shores.  

From the entrance that overlooks the bay from above, you can see the cove and how it merges a beautiful sandy beach into the deep blue sea.  During whale season, peek beyond Hanauma Bay’s perimeter to catch a glimpse of the humpbacks that migrate along the eastern coast of Oahu.

The primary activity in the bay is snorkeling and to protect the fish, it is closed on certain days that are subject to change, so check with the hotel concierge or website before you go.  This is a State Park and it does cost $7.50 to go, but it’s well worth it and you won’t have to worry about parking. 

If you still have energy after a day of snorkeling, stop at Diamond Head on the way back for a hike to the top pillboxes remaining from World War II, where you will get picture perfect panoramic views of the entire southern and eastern parts of the island.

The great thing about The Bus system in Hawaii is they start early, run late and you really can’t get lost.  It’s an island!  So, even if you fall asleep, no worries, you will only find your next paradise at the next stop. Talk about a local commute that encourages you to experience Hawaii activities authentically!

Plus with all of the resources, like The Bus App, website and friendly The Bus staff or your driver, all of whom are happy to help you plan the routes and ways to get where you want to go on the island.  Make your local commute an international experience by following our around the world in Hawaii tour, all accessible via The Bus. 



  • Brian K

    Brian K has been a writer and publisher for 10+ years and has worked for LiveYourAloha as a freelance author and content manager for several of them. There's not much about Hawaii he can't tell you about!