BYU-Hawaii: How to Get Around Campus and Beyond
Adventure Is Out There!
Are you sitting at home, bummed that you can't go out and see the rest of the beautiful island you live on? Have you become that annoying person that keeps bugging everyone you know for rides all the time, causing people to avoid you everywhere? Think you can't consider an awesome apartment you like that isn't within spitting distance to campus? BYUH students love to complain about anything outside an easy walking distance, but there's no need! It's not that bad to get around Laie and the rest of Oahu, and the more you complain, the more you show what you're (not) really made out of. Here are some tips to help you responsibly become more free and independent - an attractive quality in a mate by the way! With a bit of know how and a strong sense of responsibility, you won't have to worry that you're treading on the wrong side of the line between brave and stupid when you're literally expanding your horizons. Read below to learn about several options, and for more information and details, be sure to click on the links.
Popular Ways to Get Around
- The Bus
- Mopeds, Motor Scooters, and Motorcycles
- Renting a Car
- BYUH Shuttles
Many Oahu locals wear flip flops, aka slippers, absolutely everywhere. This might lead you to believe that everyone all over Hawaii does this, and it's true that many do. But I've seen plenty of people on other islands wear "real shoes." Plus there are plenty of hikes to go on. So opinions abound. It's up to you what you want to wear, especially since, like at most college campuses, you should expect to do a lot of walking, whether it's walking around campus or walking around town. But you won't regret having at least one pair of cheap, comfortable flip flops, at least for going to the beach.
If you're new to campus and haven't yet decided how you're going to get around yet, you're going to need food right away. You'll need to go to either the Foodland in Laie or the cheaper Tamura's in Hauula. If you need to, ask for a ride and show your appreciation by offering something in return. Otherwise, if you don't have a car or bike with a rack yet, the best thing you can do is get your own grocery cart. I had one in college. I inherited it from my grandfather who used it when he was young as well. You can get new ones that look just like it and aren't very expensive, and if you have to, order one from Amazon - they offer free shipping to Hawaii on a lot of their items when almost no one else does! These carts are great. The carts come with either 4 wheels or 2 - you lean it back on its big wheels to pull or push it around. It folds up when you're not using it, so you can keep it under your bed. Bring it into the store with you to do your shopping, and you'll know exactly how much you can carry back with you. And they are helpful anytime you need to carry around big bulky things or lots of stuff for a project elsewhere around campus. They really are quite ideal and helpful for the student without a bike or a car.
One important thing needs to be said, though it seems to be more obvious to some students than others. Bumming rides gets old VERY fast. Some people offer rides when they can to be nice, especially if they are going the same place anyway. Then of course, offering rides is a way to look nice and be popular (ahem, buy friends). But a lot of people, students or others in the community, don't have the time or money to be offering all the time, especially if there's no reason why you can't figure out your own way to get around. Car owners have their own lives to live and their own schedules to keep. They shouldn't be expected to be soccer moms to the whole community. In addition to all of the many other costs of owning a car, for fuel alone, Hawaii is the state with the highest prices in the nation. So if you're going to ask for a ride, offer to pay or do something in return, and then look into some ways below to be more mobility independent. You could also offer to pay a car owner to give you regular rides - a win-win situation since you get some help and your friend gets help paying for their expensive car. So be appreciative, show some gratitude, and offer something in return, or you'll begin to be avoided for being so unnecessarily needy. The damsel in distress thing is so last millennium.
"The Bus" is Oahu's bus system, and it's a great system. It's one of the more highly ranked public transportation systems in the country.
Using bus route schedules are good for planning trips you make regularly. There is a free app provided called "Da Bus" that you can download to your smartphone. However, Google Maps is my favorite way to keep track of buses. It tracks them in real time, so you have a good idea of how long you will have to wait for the next one. Buses are sometimes early or late. That's true of any bus system everywhere, especially on routes as long as bus 55 where there can be some variation on how many stops need to be made. But if they are off schedule a bit, Google Maps will keep you informed of the adjusted schedule.
When you are waiting at a bus stop, especially a minor one, keep an eye out for the arrival of the bus and wave to the driver to make sure he or she sees you. Some people have mentioned that buses won't always stop for those waiting at the stop, perhaps because they didn't see you or because sometimes people use bus stops as park benches and aren't always interested in getting on the bus.
Baggage limits are enforced, so they are good to keep in mind. Basically, you're only allowed to take up one seat. You're not allowed to hog up the aisle or the seat next to you with your bags. So everything must fit either on your lap or under your legs or seat. Sometimes you'll get a sympathetic driver, but not always, so don't bring a lot of stuff.
The 55 route will be the one you will use the most. You can find the schedule here. It runs back and forth from Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu (the biggest and most well known mall in Hawaii), through downtown Honolulu, takes the Pali Highway to the windward side, goes through Kaneohe, and goes up to the North Shore through Laie all the way to Haleiwa. It's a long ride if you want to go from Laie to Honolulu, but you save a lot on gas and really is a deal! In addition to going by the Kahuku Sugar Mill (Fiji Market is highly recommended for incredible spices and other yummies), the Laie Shopping Center, and the Hauula Shopping Center, this route passes Temple Valley Shopping Center in Kaneohe, the Windward Shopping Mall in Kaneohe and the Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center right across the street, the Windward City Shopping Center in Kaneohe, the Ward Center in Honolulu, and of course ends at Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu. Plus there are countless other stores on the way. It would be well worth your time to take a trip and ride the 55 bus from start to finish just to get an idea of the many places you can take it. But you should also know that it goes within a couple blocks of both Walmart locations in Honolulu. If you go all the way to the Ala Moana Shopping Center, you will be only a couple blocks from a Walmart and Sam's Club. They are in the same multi-story structure with the Walmart on the first floor and the Sam's Club on the 3rd floor above it. (Sadly, the Honolulu Costco is more difficult to get to.) Just keep in mind the baggage limits and don't buy more than you can carry home.
One really awesome but seldom used feature of The Bus is the bike rack on the front of every bus. This allows you to take your bike anywhere on the island you want to go and greatly expands the places you can get to without a car. There isn't a bus stop close enough to where you want to go or you don't want to bother with transfers? Take your bike with you! If you are worried about looking stupid and holding everyone up on your first time, The Bus provides an in depth explanation of everything you need to know about the bike racks, including which bikes will fit (most of them). Of course, don't be afraid to ask the bus driver too. These bike racks make it very easy to buy a bike off campus and bring it back to campus with you, although many students don't seem adventurous enough to try it and wrongly conclude they can't find a bike to purchase. You can buy a bike at Walmart, elsewhere in Honolulu, or anywhere else bus accessible (check Craigslist, but don't visit strangers alone!), put it on the bus bike rack, and easily get it back to campus. So don't let a lack of used bikes for sale on campus stop you from getting one if you want one!
If you don't take a lot of luggage, you can ride the bus all the way from the airport to Laie and vice versa and save a lot of money. You can transfer between the 55 bus and the 19 or 20 bus at Ala Moana shopping center if you're not comfortable with knowing where you are in Honolulu. The 19 or 20 bus will go through the airport on Rodgers Blvd. Ala Moana is a hub with many buses stopping there, so if you get confused, there will be many people and drivers to ask for help, and the drivers are used to helping out tourists. However, if you are more familiar with Honolulu, you can save time by transferring earlier in downtown Honolulu at the intersection of Pali Hwy/Bishop St (same street with different names depending on which side of the intersection you're on) and S Beretania St. The buses announce each intersection by voice and with a digital sign at the front, so that will help. Usually the bus will allow you a small rolling carry on and backpack at most. Officially, you're not supposed to bring a backpack with a metal frame, although I haven't seen a bus driver deny people with one yet as long as you hold it on your lap. If you're going to be checking any luggage at the airport, you definitely need to get someone to drive you. Although the bus is often on time, make sure to give yourself plenty of extra time incase there are a lot of stops or you miss a connecting bus, especially if you go during rush hour. Once I had a bus make an "emergency stop" (bathroom break? end of shift?) where everyone had to get off the bus and transfer to another one that we had to wait for, but that is rare.
UPDATE: As of this writing, it's $2.75 per ride. And no longer does the bus provide free transfers... Oh woe of woes. So if you want to go someplace that requires a transfer, You should buy a one-day pass, equal to the cost of 2 bus trips: $5.50. You can purchase this directly from the bus driver when you get on the bus.
The student fare is for students high school and younger, so as a college student, you don't qualify for that rate. If you are going to be using the bus regularly, adult monthly bus passes are $60. However, BYUH has reduced rate longer term student bus passes available good for about half a year. Check the dates each will be valid for because they seem to adjust these regularly, and buy them early because their availability might be limited.
Rollerblades are great for getting around campus, and if you're from a colder climate, it's a great way to keep up your skating muscles and techniques while you can't get on the ice. The nice thing about rollerblades is you don't have to lock them up outside - just rip them off and toss on your slippers. So you don't have to worry about theft (unless your roommate isn't trustworthy). And of course, wearing them, you look taller. ;) They are fun, they'll work out your balance, butt, core, and thighs, and you look good doing it.
Be aware that BYUH considers rollerblades meant for the road. They don't allow these on sidewalks or in buildings, and they will fine you if you're caught. And I'll say right up front - you shouldn't be using these in the rain, so you'll have to resort to walking sometimes.
Some people are hesitant to use rollerblades because they are unsure of their braking skills, and I get that. With typical rollerblades, you've got 3 choices: lifting a foot and using your heel brake, dragging a foot behind you in a T brake, or attempting an awkward plow brake. The last 2 methods will wear out your wheels a lot, sometimes unevenly. But there is another, much easier option - Automatic Braking Technology, or ABT brakes. These brakes are only made by the company Rollerblade on their Rollerblade or Bladerunner models. The braking moves downward and touches the ground when you push your foot forward while keeping all your wheels on the ground. This mechanism was developed for skating beginners but it is a super stable and easier way to brake, and I prefer it by far. Also, it is economical since you won't wear out your wheels so fast, and the brake can be used up completely before having to swap it out. I am a huge fan. The video below shows an example of this.
You'll have to maintain them on occasion. It's good to rotate the wheels to keep the wear even on them. This is easily done with an allen wrench. You'll also have to change out the brake from time to time, depending on how much you use them. But it's not very often. They are easy to keep out of the elements, so they are easy to protect against rust on the few metal parts they have. As long as they are kept clean, a little bit of oil on the few metal parts should keep them shiny and functional.
Overall, rollerblades are cheap to get, not prone to theft unless you are careless, and cheap to maintain. If you find them used, expect them to run about $40, higher or lower based on condition. You can get new ones for around $80. If buying them used, make sure the wheels haven't been excessively or unevenly worn, and check how much of the brake is left. ABEC ball bearings with higher number ratings are better. A rating of 3-5 is good. Of course make sure they are comfortable and fit you well! And if you are beginning, do use pads and a helmet.
I wouldn't recommend rollerblades for getting around outside Laie. If you just stay on quieter neighborhood roads, it's fine. But I don't believe it would be safe on the main road (Kamehameha Hwy) because blades aren't fast enough and you need space to kick to the sides. While there is a bike path between Laie and Kahuku, it's not paved quite the entire way, and you might run into a bit of trouble unless you get off-roading rollerblades. But if you're into those, then you're probably hard core and don't need my advice. ;)
An Example of ABT Rollerblades
Skateboards are the quintessential method of getting around on land when you're in surf territory, and they are very common at BYUH. Similar to rollerblades, they are only allowed on roads on BYUH campus, not sidewalks or buildings. But also like rollerblades, you don't have to lock them outside. Just hop off and carry it with you where you need to go. No taking off shoes, no locks, no permits, no insurance... Easy. A similar downside like rollerblades is that they can be problematic and can't be depended on in the rain.
In concept, skateboards are super ideal. Although I'll say that I've seen students buy them in anticipation of learning and then never getting the hang of it, just to hang up their dreams and resell them later. I'll freely admit that I took to blading much more easily than boarding. It's even more shameful when you see all the videos of dogs on skateboards. But if the opportunity for someone to teach you comes up, go for it! It's an awesome skill to have for the future too. What's cooler than being that professor/executive/etc racing to make your commuter train on your skateboard?
One alternative that I will mention (but not discuss much from lack of experience) is the scooter and electric scooter (not to be mistaken with mopeds). If you're not great with skateboards, scooters are much easier to handle but are bulkier to fold and carry indoors with you. But I suppose it could be done.
Getting a bike will greatly increase how far you can go and is a minimum if you want transportation outside Laie. The Malaekahana Bike Path is a nice bike trail between Laie and Kahuku. You can take bikes on the bus with you and go anywhere on the island with them (see my earlier section on The Bus for details). If you haven't gotten a bike yet, or if you're not sure you want a bike yet and want to try it out first, BYUH has recently piloted a bicycle ride sharing program that you can use as well.
Hawaii has a bike registration requirement. BYUH has an additional bike parking permit requirement. When you register your bike, you get a sticker for your bike. The same goes for the parking permit. These should be transferred to new owners when you buy or sell them, and if you buy a used bike, look for one registered or it might be stolen. A lot of students simply abandon their bikes once they leave, and this has created an excess of old, broken, rusty bikes on campus. Registering your bike is like getting your dog or cat a collar or microchip - it tells the world, "I have a home and am loved!" If you do not register your bike and campus security finds it parked on campus, like a stray dog catcher, they may fine you and/or confiscate it and give it away to someone else without your permission since if it is not registered, they will assume it is one of these abandoned bikes. Additionally, bikes must be parked in designated bike racks on campus, and if not, they could be fined or also confiscated. Do pay attention to this because many students who have disregarded this have lost a bike (sometimes several) this way. If you think your bike was stolen, it may have simply been campus security - check with them either way.
While biking, you'll have to follow the rules of the road. It's good to pay attention to the rest of the biking laws in Hawaii as well. The Hawaii Bicycling League has put together a good, comprehensive guide to help yourself stay informed and on top of things. Be sure to use the proper universal hand signals for turning or stopping while on the road as they are required across the U.S.
Bikes are extremely popular on campus. Because of this, you've got a lot of problems with theft, and not just by campus security. Laie itself has some nice, principled people living here. Maybe when you arrive, you will think you've found paradise and let your guard down. This is well known by locals, and it actually attracts thieves both locally and from elsewhere on the island looking to take advantage of students who don't take measures to protect their rides. If you get a bike, you MUST lock it up, especially if you get a higher quality one. The demand for bikes is so high, even old rusty ones get stolen sometimes. Don't think you can leave it outside unprotected for even a minute, even if you're running late for something. That's how a lot of bikes get stolen, so make sure you give yourself time to lock up your bike before any class or appointment.
REI offers a great overview on bike locks that is worth a look. Get a good solid U lock for your bike, and lock the main body of your bike to a solid bike rack that's not falling apart. If you just lock your bike by the wheel, especially the front wheel without gears, someone may remove and abandon the wheel and run off with the rest of the bike. You can get a flexible cable lock too, but don't trust your whole bike to it. Use it to lock up your wheels at most. A simple bolt cutter can slice through these like they are cooked noodles (I have done it myself), so don't trust your whole bike to one of these. Be careful with your seat too, especially if you have a quick-release bike seat. Some people will steal these as well. But I think it's a bit of an arms race when it comes to locks. It's the easiest bike to steal that will get stolen first, so you don't want to have less protection than everyone else. Certainly if you have no protection, you might as well give your bike away now. At least you'll know who it ends up with... That is unless your friend doesn't lock it up either!
My personal strategy was to lock up the main body and front wheel of the bike to the bike rack with a tough U lock. You ideally want a lock just big enough to fit because the wider the "U" shape, the easier it would be to use a crowbar or other metal rod to break it. I also used a flexible metal cord lock with a loop that hooked onto my U lock for the back wheel. As for my seat, I popped it off using the quick release and brought it with me until I got something to lock it down. I never had a problem with theft of my bike despite having a brand new and pricier $650 bike which I still have and love to this day.
And no matter what your friends say, get and wear a helmet! Everyone thinks bad things happen to other people until something happens to them. It is a thing in Hawaii to ride around without any kind of protection because it's not a minimum requirement. I don't get this... Just because you're in a nice place, it doesn't mean you can let down your guard and forget all your good habits. Don't be that girl riding her bike down Kamehameha Highway with no helmet while not looking at the road and TEXTING. Dude, you're just asking for the universe to sucker punch you with a bad lesson on why you need to act responsibly. It's really dangerous, so please don't do it.
If you're going to go shopping, although you can awkwardly hang shopping bags off your handlebars until you can get better situated, you'll really need a bike basket or rack. There are several options. There are bike baskets that attach to the front of your bike. These in my opinion make it harder and clumsier to steer, so I prefer racks for the back of the bike. There are baskets made for the rear of the bike. Or you can buy a cheap rear bike rack and attach a cheap wooden or plastic crate with rope, bungee cords, screws, etc. Here is a video that shows how to do that with a wooden box. Free plastic crates would work great and are often available for free by the dumpster behind the cafeteria by the swimming pool. If you don't find them when you go, check again later.
Rain is the next thing to consider. Hawaii has two seasons - there's hurricane season when it's hot, and there's a rainy season when it's colder, so plan on rain all the time! But if you plan, you won't ever have to worry about rain. Only the unprepared need to take the walk of shame into class all wet and dirty. No need to bum rides from people because of a little rain. Rain is normal and expected, so be ready for it.
First, you MUST get fenders on your bike, or your tires will kick up rain and dirt when you're riding and you'll have a nice dark splattered stripe down your back and up your chest and face. If you are to rely on your bike as regular transportation at all, fenders are really not optional. Your bike may come with them, and it's best if it does. If not, you can buy fenders to add on, but it might be tricky finding ones that fit your bike. Alternatively, build your own. The most awesome fenders I've seen were homemade out of palm fronds, and there was even a cute bird's nest as decoration. So get creative!
As for keeping yourself dry, a basic $1 rain poncho will keep both you and your backpack dry. Buy one in bright warm colors, yellow, orange, or red, as it's safest to be as bright as possible on the road, and when it's rainy it's harder for cars to see you. The key is make sure you're visible from behind. You can also buy a blinky red bike light to clip onto either the back of your bike or your backpack to help cars see you. Visibility is vitally important for safety, but it's also an opportunity to be unique and enjoy making yourself stand out. Attach a flag to the back that you buy or make yourself... maybe from a palm frond. :)
It's good to get some basic bike maintenance tools. Be sure to buy a small bike pump (but don't leave it on your bike when you lock it up). If you blow a tire, you can fix it yourself if you've got a spare tube. You'll need a bike tool too, but you could also use a couple of spare metal spoons you can sacrifice to the job if necessary. Please don't steal spoons to do this.
Be careful with your right leg when wearing long pants. Your bike chain and gears should be oiled up, so if your leg touches them while you're riding, you'll get a bit of oil smeared on it, and that stain probably won't come out of your pants. Rolling up your right pant leg will help fix this problem. Be especially careful with this on Sundays! Alternatively, if you're riding to church wearing a skirt and you're concerned about being modest on your bike, consider putting a pair of shorts underneath your skirt and taking them off when you arrive. A tip to all you ladies - I got the most compliments on my skin after riding my bike to church. Something about the sweat mixing with my foundation gave me a flawless and freshly natural look. So no, you won't necessarily look terrible if you ride your bike to church - I looked better! And you can quickly freshen up in the bathroom if you need to.
And lastly, prepare for the summer if you're leaving and coming back next year! Maybe you can lend someone your bike for the summer, or a friend sticking around campus can store it for you in a safe place. Most ideal would be paying someone to store it in a safe, locked place for you out of the elements. If you try to sell it at the end of the school year, you won't get much for it because you'll be competing with all the graduating students. Find someone you can trust to care for your bike, and don't wait until the last minute, or you may end up contributing to the abandoned bike supply, and there are plenty of thieves who would be happy to help you out with that as well.
Example of a Well Locked Bike
Mopeds, Motor Scooters, and Motorcycles
Some people see mopeds as glorified bikes because they currently require the same county license/registration as bikes (see above bike section), and, as of this writing, don't require insurance or safety inspections. However, as of January 1, 2017, this will no longer be the case. You will be required to get safety inspections and register your moped with the county every year, and you will need to get license plates as well. Insurance will not be a requirement. You will need an additional BYUH permit to drive and park them on campus. These should all be renewed when ownership changes from person to person, so you'll have to get your own if you buy a used one from another student.
Because mopeds are not very powerful, by law they are limited as to what can be done with them on the roadways. One important thing to know is that you will need a driver's license to ride a moped on the roadways, but it is the basic Class 1 car license. You can't take any passengers, but why would you want to try when it's got less power than some push mowers? Mopeds are not permitted on roads with speed limits 45 mph or above, so that means no freeways (H-1, H-2, H-3, Pali Hwy, and Likelike). If you want to head to Honolulu on your moped, it's possible, but you have to take smaller roads and hug the coast to get there. It's such a long trip, it's probably better to take the bus. Also know that if there are bike lanes on the road, moped riders are required to use them. However, off road bike paths are not for mopeds.
Mopeds are a very popular way to get around the island. This makes them highly prone to theft. Don't think that because you need a key to start up your moped that no one else can run off with it. Many mopeds are stolen from campus each year. Thieves can and do toss them in a truck or hot wire them where they sit, spray paint them a new color, and make minor adjustments like breaking off or adding on parts so that you can't recognize your moped anymore and can't track it down. They are VERY EASY to hot wire, and I share this 30 second video to scare the living daylights out of you into physically locking up your moped to something solid! All the thieves know this already anyway. The point is, if you don't lock up your moped, it may be only a matter of time before you're stuck without your trusty transportation. You can lock it up with a chain and lock to a solid structure.
Because of the need to lock up your moped or motor scooter, parking safely and legally can be an issue. This website is helpful in spelling that out, as well as giving an overview of moped riding laws.
Although mopeds and motor scooters look a lot alike, they are *completely different* under the law. Be careful with the terminology because they are called different things in different places, such as California. Sometimes students get their motor scooters registered as mopeds to avoid the extra hassles required for motor scooters, but this should become an issue once inspection for mopeds becomes required and it is discovered it is actually a motor scooter. Watch out for that. If any of the following is true, it is by law a motor scooter and must follow all the laws and requirements of motorcycles:
- Can produce more than 2 horsepower output
- Has an engine greater than 50 cc
- Doesn't have automatic transmission
- Has the ability to go any faster than 30 mph on a straight, level surface
There are a lot of similarities between riding motor scooters and motorcycles. You are permitted one passenger. You will need vehicle inspection, registration, and insurance. You will need a motorcycle Class 2 license. Although it is not a requirement unless you are under 18 (!!!), you should definitely wear a helmet at minimum for safety, preferably one with some eye protection for the same reason you don't want to be riding around and talking a lot at the same time - there's bugs and flying rocks! If there's cooler weather, you might consider getting some superhuman looking motorcycle body armor. You'll be even safer and will look like an awesome road ninja warrior (although that might look silly on a moped). There are also armor choices you can find that are less obvious but also less protective, for example hidden in a leather jacket. You might consider taking a riding safety course. A course for motorcycles teaches things useful for moped riders as well. Even hard core motorcyclists I've known have mentioned that they learned a lot of important stuff they didn't know by taking a class, with the most common thing I've heard mentioned is properly leaning into curves, a critical skill.
You might be able to save money by buying a used ride, but be careful of the quality. I have known students to drop metal tools on the battery while charging it, thus dramatically shorting it and killing the alternator despite strongly professed confidence in their own abilities, and then not bothering to fix it afterwards. So be very careful with what you're buying. Many students don't take good care of their mopeds, so you might consider buying a moped new (and guarding it well). Be careful about the quality of any used moped you're considering buying as with bad treatment they can even go dead in 2 years or a lot less depending on the abuse, and have someone trusted look over it for you if you're not mechanically inclined. You might be able to find another student to help fix your moped on Facebook, or you might consider paying someone to look over one you're considering buying to save you future headaches. And definitely don't consider handing over any money to anyone without official documentation or registration. This would make a motorcycle illegal, and it might mean a moped is stolen. Be sure to check with the BYUH Security office beforehand to make sure there aren't any outstanding violations or tickets because you can and will be held responsible for them once it's transferred to your name. Some students (way more than I would like to admit) do lack integrity and will be happy to pass on their old problems to you.
Lastly, be thinking about what you're going to do with your ride over the summer if you plan to leave and come back. The best option is find someone who can store it for you in an indoor location like a locked shed or garage. You'll most likely have to pay someone to do this. Some students lend their mopeds to friends for the summer in exchange for protection, but many of these mopeds get stolen when their friends don't properly lock or care for the moped (I've known people this has happened to). No one cares for your stuff like you do, so expect to find it damaged or non-existent when you get back if there's no financial incentive to make sure it stays safe. It's better to pay for summer storage to protect your investment and ensure you have transportation to come back to when you need it.
Renting a Car
Enterprise introduced a rental car sharing service now available on campus (not to be confused with the previous campus program offered by Hertz that appears to be no more). You can walk up and rent a vehicle for an extended time or even only a couple hours. You don't even have to fill it up with gas when you're done since gas is included in the price. It is not the cheapest, but is extremely convenient and is the only car rental option available locally that I'm aware of. Because it is relatively new, they are offering some discounts, so it's worth checking out. You can see the details here.
Otherwise, you can rent cars from the airport. However, a local car rental place that is usually cheaper than the big companies is Lucky Owl Car Rental. They will pick you up and drop you off in Honolulu, including at the airport. Their cars are not as new as the major car rental companies, so if they can't quote you a price cheaper than the rest, you might as well go with a major rental company unless you really do want an older car to look more like a local and not stand out as much. But they beat everyone else with their Yelp ratings and are well loved, so they are definitely worth checking out.
One more thing worth mentioning is that I have often seen students "renting" out their cars to other students. I strongly do not recommend this. Personally, I wouldn't rent out my car to anyone. First of all, it's much easier to maintain your car when you know exactly what it has been through and if anything has happened to it. Friends who don't want to be held responsible for hitting curbs or anything on the road won't tell you about it, especially if it is not immediately obvious. Questionable insurance coverage for those not on your policy is another reason. Even if it is covered by your insurance, I have heard of too many people getting into accidents while borrowing someone's car, and when that happens, most of the time the car owner is stuck with the repair bill and increased insurance rates. If a tire is blown while renting or borrowing, often the driver will not bother helping with the proper costs of repairing it - both tires on the axle must be replaced if it's not fixable, and if the car or truck is 4 wheel drive, all 4 tires will need to be replaced. The person borrowing the car often weasels their way out of responsibility completely, even blaming the owner for causing the accident or damage by not maintaining the car somehow. Not a good situation.
Cars and trucks are the ultimate in mobility. They are also the ultimate in expense. So maybe they aren't the ultimate in freedom.
If you get a car, be aware that while you may get suddenly very popular with your non-driving friends, you may also be very annoyed when they all ask you for rides everywhere. Lots of them are not very appreciative and will take advantage of you. I have experienced this myself multiple times, with some asking every couple of days and not even saying a quick "thanks" when being dropped off. I have heard that when you buy a car, you enter an unofficial club of sorts that allows you to hang out with others that travel around the island more. I don't know how true this is or even if it exists in many circles of friends, but it's been said.
No matter where in the world you get a car, one of the first concerns is parking and its limited availability. There is parking available on campus for which you'll need to get a parking permit from campus security. If you live off campus, you must ensure that parking is available at your house because that's not always the case.
Of course you'll need a license, and to transfer your license from another state, you will have to study for, take, and pass a written test. And of course you'll need to register the car and get insurance. Hawaii has yearly inspection requirements, but no smog testing requirements.
Students are, in general, not good at maintaining their vehicles, so be extremely careful with who you buy from. Get the car looked over by a mechanic or mechanically trustworthy friend before buying, even if you have to pay them to do it. Don't just trust people, and definitely don't think people tell you the truth because they are LDS. Someone I know on the island, whose dad died within the month, was sold a lemon with an undisclosed major oil leak which killed the engine 5 days after buying it from someone LDS with no morals or sympathy. Buying from or selling to your friend might be a terrible idea. Even with friends, students don't always show the most integrity. I have witnessed one of my student tenants buy a vehicle from her "friend," go joyriding with it, clearly mistreat it, and then return it to the seller, demanding her money back and threatening a lawsuit if she didn't get it because she said it wasn't in as good condition as she thought. Unbelievable. On the other hand, if you sell to someone you see all the time, they might ask you to fix new problems that pop up because you should have told them about it, in effect asking for an extended warranty of sorts. It is best for both sides for the car to be properly assessed by a knowledgeable person in advance of the sale so that the transaction happens honestly, cleanly, and without headaches and broken relationships down the road.
Consider a AAA road side assistance membership, especially if you're not sure about the condition of your car. It is serious peace of mind in case anything goes wrong with the car leaving you stuck somewhere very inconvenient. If you're the type to not budget your gas money or make sure you have gas for upcoming appointments, you might need to be rescued someday when you run out. It's also great if you lock your keys in the car, leave the lights on by accident and need a jump start, or need a tow to a mechanic.
You will need to consider what to do with your car if you leave for the summer. Some students let others use their car over the summer for free in exchange for taking care of the car. This is not a good idea for reasons similar to what I mentioned before... If repairs become necessary or if there is an accident, there is no good way to handle this. A better option would be to find someone who would allow you to park in their driveway, and you will probably have to pay them. You can also use one of the storage facilities available on Oahu. Central Self Storage in Kaneohe offers car storage, either covered or uncovered, and is easily accessible by the 55 bus line. However, they have bad reviews for charging more than agreed or baiting and switching. Hawaii Self Storage, Public Storage, or StorQuest are other options and have many locations on the island. If you're going to be gone for an extended period of time, keep in mind that if you don't pay for enclosed or covered parking, it may be better to store your vehicle on the leeward rather than windward side of the island as the weather will be better there. Be sure to check the reviews for each individual location you consider.
Like I said, owning a car is expensive. Hawaii has the highest fuel prices in the nation, and buying gas around Laie is usually more expensive than in the cities. The typical price for regular oil changes is twice what I paid in California. Car registration is very expensive too compared to many other states, usually around $300 per year. Many car owners do not keep up with their registration fees, and those fees don't go away... They accumulate, and the bill can be transferred to the new owner. Some people don't register their car because it won't pass inspection and the fix is expensive, so an unregistered car may be as sign of an expensive mechanical issue. So don't buy an unregistered or uninspected car. Besides, it's illegal to even drive it home that way. And of course, never buy without documentation or you won't even own the car. Maybe this is obvious, but I am always shocked at how trusting people can be and simultaneously how little integrity people can have. It has become such an old, reoccurring story. So please, trust, but verify.
There are a couple of shuttle services servicing BYUH that I know of. There used to be more paid shuttles, like a BYUH shuttle taking students to Walmart and Costco or a university run shuttle, but those programs have sadly been ended.
The Aloha Late Night Shuttle Service, run by the Security department, offers students a free ride home by a security officer. It is offered by request twice per evening at 10 pm and midnight every night except Sundays for students who live off campus to help you get home at night. Go to their office at McKay Building 148 to sign up.
Island Transporter offers BYUH students a "Coconut Express" service taking people to the airport for $50 per person during certain hours and dates corresponding with the beginning and end of terms with an extra $10 to be dropped off at an off-campus location, and a whopping $105 for other dates and times. If you're late, they may charge you $120 and you'll have to wait for a later one. I haven't tried it, so I can't comment on it, but it's there if you really need it.
Because the opportunity is there, some students and others in the community also offer their own airport rides with their personal car or truck. They advertise on Facebook, usually on the "Buy & Sell" page. The nice thing about Facebook is that you can often check out a bit what the person advertising is like.
If you are thinking of offering your own personal shuttle service, from my conversations with community members still offering this, make sure the student pays before they get into your car either at the airport or at school. Multiple students have shortchanged or not paid at all after getting a ride. "Oh, I'm so sorry, I only have x amount on me," is an all too common excuse and is a cop out when it was very clear from the start how much you were charging. So don't fall prey to another student's antics and lack of integrity (one reason some people don't offer airport rides anymore after trying). Some students will only offer to pay $20 to the airport, and for most drivers, that's not worth your time or miles on your car, and depending on your vehicle, it might not even cover gas money. So you'd still be doing it as a favor unless you had other reasons to go to Honolulu. Also be aware that students may call you super late at night or last minute because they didn't plan well or had a friend that backed out (the most common reason/excuse), so be clear about your policy on last minute and late night gigs.
Hitchhiking is common in Hawaii, and so maybe you think because there are a bunch of people doing it and even recommending it, there's nothing wrong with it. But there are reasons why it happens to be illegal in other places. I'm going to have to side with the university's advice on this one, especially for girls - don't do it. It's really not a good idea.
Like I mentioned before regarding theft, when people first come to Hawaii, they get so enamored by the beautiful scenery and nice people that they totally drop their guard thinking nothing could possibly go wrong. This happens to new people every single year. The locals are VERY aware of this phenomenon, and so BYUH girls are most definitely targeted as a steady supply of "fresh meat." True, there are plenty of wonderful people. But unfortunately, there are also plenty of aloha fakers out there that will pretend to be laid back and generous when they really have bad intentions. You don't want to find out who's who when you're already in the car with them.
It is good advice for women to never get yourself in a position you can't get out of. If you're hitching a ride you can't easily get out of someone's car or truck. So you're very vulnerable. Attacks are under-reported at BYU in general because the reporting girl will also be investigated for any Honor Code violations surrounding the incident, and she may be kicked out of school if she did anything. From my experience renting to students, almost no student is guiltless (after all, nobody's perfect). It creates a culture of silence and keeping up appearances. Guys know the girls can't easily report, and that's a terrible position for girls to be in.
But I also believe that women should be ever-vigilant in taking precautions and do all we can to protect ourselves because we know there's scary people out there. Be safe and don't allow yourself to get yourself into a vulnerable position. Only take rides from people you know well and trust. And, for all you Hermione Grangers out there, besides jeopardizing your safety and life, the potential dangers of hitchhiking could unfortunately also get you kicked out of school. So don't do it. There are plenty of other fabulous ways to get around.
***UPDATE*** - Great news!!! BYU has recently announced that they will no longer investigate girls reporting attacks for Honor Code infractions! They will now be granted amnesty for anything surrounding the assault, and only a person charged and found guilty of the assault will be reported to the Honor Code office.
"Now, if you two don't mind, I'm going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed, or worse, expelled."
How about you?
If you're a BYUH student, what's your usual way of getting yourself around town?
What's your dream ride?
As a BYUH student, what is your favorite or most desired way to get yourself around town?
© 2016 Tara Snoples Lacome