Ultimate Guide to Riding the Waikiki Trolley in Honolulu

If you are visiting Oahu, Hawaii, I recommend getting tickets to ride the Waikiki Trolley especially if you don’t know where to go. The trolley in Waikiki is your hop-on hop-off bus to getting around Honolulu and it is one of the fun things to do in Oahu with Kids. There are a total of 3 Waikiki Trolley routes that take you to major Oahu attractions like Diamond Head Crater, Hanauma Bay and so much more. During our visit in 2019, there were 6 Waikiki trolley lines and we were able to get to Pearl Harbor from Waikiki by riding the Waikiki Trolley Purple Line, I hope they bring it back.

Riding the Waikiki Trolley enables you to focus on sightseeing without needing to drive,  worry about parking and parking fees, and it also saves you money from renting a car. Check our guide to riding the Waikiki Trolley below.

Waikiki Trolley

Ultimate Guide to Riding the Waikiki Trolley

How does the Waikiki Trolley Work?

As of 2021, Waikiki Trolley comprises 3 trolley lines each representing a route that takes you to major Honolulu attractions. The Waikiki Trolley is sometimes called the Honolulu trolley, Oahu trolley, or Hawaii trolley and is one of the best ways in getting around Honolulu, or at least part of it, the more touristy part.

When riding the Waikiki Trolley Hop-On-Hop-Off tour of Honolulu, you have the option to just ride and go sightseeing without going down or go down at only certain stops that appeal to you. The knowledgeable driver serves as your guide and talks over the speaker so you can learn about the attractions you’re visiting or driving by. Some facts, culture, local history will also be shared along the way.

The Waikiki Trolley is an open-air trolley except for the pink line which is a (yellow) double-decker bus – how confusing, haha. The Waikiki Trolley PINK Line is Oahu’s shopping line, its major stop is Ala Moana Center – a large (more like humongous) open-air shopping center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Other Oahu trolley lines include the Waikiki Trolley RED Line which takes you to cultural sights like the Iolani Palace, and the Waikiki Trolley BLUE Line is the panoramic coastline route.

During our visit in 2019, there were 3 other Waikiki Trolley lines namely the Waikiki Trolley YELLOW Line which is the Honolulu Dining Express – people ride this to visit Leonard’s Bakery and Rainbow Drive-In, the Waikiki Trolley PURPLE Line which is the Historic Pearl Harbor Line, and the Waikiki Trolley GREEN Line which is the scenic Diamond Head route which takes you inside a volcano crater. They have now added the Diamond Head stop to the Blue line.

All Waikiki Trolleys have a stop at a particular hotel or the famous Waikiki Beach and some of them may have similar stops for a portion of the trip. I will detail the Waikiki Trolley route or stops below.

Waikiki Trolley Schedule

Waikiki Trolley Pricing 2021

Are the trolleys in Waikiki Free?

No, it is not, riding the Waikiki Trolley is not free but it is also not that expensive especially if you plan your routes ahead.

How much does it cost to ride the Waikiki Trolley?

The 2021 Waikiki Trolley price is $25 per adult and $15 per child (3-11) for the Blue Line Day Pass or the Red Line Day Pass, while the Pink Line is only $5 per person. If you wish to ride all the 3 Waikiki Trolley lines, you can buy the all-line ticket which is $45 per adult and $25 per child for a 1-day pass, $65 per adult and $40 per child for the 4-day pass, and $75 per adult and $49 per child for the 7-day pass. Children 2 and under are free but have to sit on an adult lap.

Where can I buy Waikiki Trolley tickets?

You can buy your Waikiki Trolley tickets online via WaikikiTrolley.com or visit the ticket desk located at the lobby level of the Waikiki Shopping Plaza. They may OR MAY NOT also be available at your hotel concierge, at tour and activity desks, and at Ala Moana Trolley Stop but they are not available on the trolley itself, the trolley drivers do not sell Waikiki Trolley tickets. We bought ours online and had to exchange them for actual ticket vouchers at the ticket counter.

Waikiki Trolley ticket
image by Waikiki Trolley

Recommendation

So the question is, how many days do you need to ride the Waikiki Trolley for? For our 7 Day Oahu Itinerary, we tried to fit everything into 2 days. We paid for the 1-day fare which comes with a 2nd-day free pass and it enabled us to ride all 6 Honolulu trolley lines although we only did 5. It cost us $25 per child and $45 per adult. We mostly rode the trolley to do sightseeing and hardly went down except for a few hours at the Pearl Harbor on the Purple Line, Leonard’s Bakery on the Yellow Line, and to eat poke at Ala Moana Center via the Pink Line.

Since there are now only 3 available lines, I recommend getting the 4-day Waikiki Trolley pass if you’re staying in Oahu for a week but if you are staying for 2 weeks and have the budget for it, then just get the 7-day pass and really visit the attractions versus just riding the Waikiki Trolley to ride around town.

In all honesty, we were very exhausted after a day of trolley rides even if we were just seated for the most part. Did we squeeze too much in 2 days? Perhaps. If your budget allows and you don’t mind paying more or you have more days to be in Oahu, you can spread it out by purchasing the 4 or 7- day pass. Take note when buying Waikiki Trolley tickets that we also didn’t go down to all the Waikiki Trolley stops so if you are the type who wishes to visit and explore every attraction then really get the 4 or 7 day pass.


 

Waikiki Trolley Schedule

Stops on the Waikiki Trolley Blue Line – Ocean/Diamond Head

Route duration: 110 minutes round trip, and additional 10 minutes for cleaning.

  • Courtesy one-time pick-up at Ilikai Hotel (Hilton Hawaiin Village)
  • Courtesy one-time pick-up at Trump Tower
  • Waikiki Shopping Placa
  • Duke Kahanamoku Statue
  • Diamond Head/KCC
  • Kahala Mall
  • Halone Blow Hole
  • Sea Life Park
  • Koko Marina
  • Kahala Mall
  • Diamond Head/Kapiolani Community College
  • Waikiki Shopping Plaza
Waikiki Trolley Blue Line Map & Waikiki Trolley Red Line Map
image by Waikiki Trolley

Stops on the Waikiki Trolley Red Line – Cultural Honolulu

Route duration: 80 minutes round-trip, and additonal 10 minutes for cleaning

  • Courtesy one-time pick-up at Ilikai Hotel (Hilton Hawaiin Village)
  • Courtesy one-time pick-up at Trump Tower
  • Waikiki Shopping Placa
  • Duke Kahanamoku Statue
  • Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
  • Honolulu Museum of Art
  • State Capitol/Iolano Palace
  • Punchbowl Crater
  • King Kamehameha Statue
  • Salt at Our Kaka’ako
  • Ward Centre
  • Ala Moana
  • Waikiki Shopping Plaza
Waikiki Trolley Pink Line Map
image by Waikiki Trolley

Stops on the Waikiki Trolley Pink Line – Ala Moana Shopping Shuttle

Route duration: 30 minute intervals, operates daily, non-stop service from 10:15 AM to 7:45 PM (8:45 PM on Fridays and Saturdays)

  • Waikiki Shopping Placa
  • Duke Kahanamoku Statue
  • Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
  • Hilton Waikiki Beach
  • Marugame Udon
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Hotel La Croix
  • Hokulani Hotel
  • Aqua Palms Waikiki
  • Ala Moana Center (ocean side arrival, ocean side departure)
  • ‘Ilikai Hotel
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village
  • Trump International Hotel
  • Waikiki Shoppin Plaza
Waikiki Trolley Hop-On-Hop-Off tour

Tips for Riding the Waikiki Trolley

1. Try to book a hotel where there is a Waikiki Trolley stop or see if it is near one

The Waikiki Trolley has many stops around the famous Waikiki area but it also stops right in front of a few hotels enabling you to skip walking to a further trolley stop on some of the trolley lines. This is especially helpful after a long day of sightseeing and you just wanna hop off the trolley and head straight to your hotel room. We stayed at Hotel LaCroix in Waikiki which has both the pink line stop in front of it.

Some of the Waikiki Hotels with Waikiki Trolley stops include ‘Ilikai Hotel, Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, Trump International Hotel, Hilton Waikiki Beach, Courtyard by Marriott, Hotel La Croix, Hokulani Hotel, and Aqua Palms Waikiki.

2. You don’t need to go back to the main stop to catch another trolley line

For the most part, you’d want to complete the route of every trolley line but you don’t have to. You can hop on and hop off the other trolley lines to get where you want to go as long as they are part of the 3 Waikiki Trolley lines and you have the All-Line Pass so check your Waikiki Trolley map for overlaps in route. As an example, all the trolley lines do stop at the Duke Kahanamoku Statue which is fronting Waikiki Beach. Just watch out as there are also other trolleys operating in the Waikiki area but I believe they are for the Japanese tourists, make sure to ride the right trolley. You’ll know as the Japanese Trolley would have Japanese wording all over the trolley.

Waikiki Trolley Route
View from the Waikiki Trolley – Diamond Head Surf Lookout

5. Know if the drop-off and the pick-up location of the trolley are the same at a particular attraction

This tip is very important because we got lost at Ala Moana Center. When we rode the Pink Line to visit Ala Moana Center, we thought that where we were dropped off is the only trolley stop at the mall. When we went back to the stop to catch our ride back, we saw no trolleys nor a trolley stop sign. Then we realized that the trolleys pick up their passengers on another side of the mall. We had an “Amazing Race” moment around Ala Moana Center where we circled around not knowing where we were going and totally lost a lot of time as we missed our planned trolley ride. The #12 stop of the Pink Line is at Ala Moana Center (mountain side) – drop off only while #13 stop is Ala Moana Center (ocean side) where we should have gone to get picked up. The whole ordeal was both funny and tiring at the same time. Please verify when you go, they may have already changed this and place pick up and drop off in the same location as our visit was in 2019.

6. Download the Waikiki Trolley App and Pick up a Waikiki Trolley Map Guide

The Waikiki Trolley App called Ride Systems App shows you the real-time location of the trolley lines so you know if it’s almost at your location or you can still use the restroom before waiting at the trolley stop. It’s not the best app there is but it may be helpful at times so do download it and check it out before riding.

The Waikiki Trolley Map Guide, available at the ticketing booth and maybe even at your hotel will show you all the Waikiki Trolley Schedule and Stops, a quick description of the attractions, the Waikiki Trolley hours of operation, frequencies of travel of each line, etc. Take it with you so you know when to get back to the trolley stop to catch a ride back to your hotel or to hop back to see the next attraction.

Getting Around Waikiki – What to look for in the Waikiki Trolley Map Guide:

  • Start Time and End Time of the Trolley Line you wish to ride on – Check your Waikiki Trolley Schedule in the Map Guide as the start time and end time of every trolley line are not the same. Consider this when planning your itinerary especially on Sundays and Holidays when the trolleys end their operations earlier. As an example during our visit when Waikiki Trolley still operated the Purple Line to Pearl Harbor, we had to go back to the trolley stop at 4PM since the last trolley ride out of Pearl Harbor stop is at 4:15PM. We definitely didn’t want to miss our ride back from Pearl Harbor to our hotel in Waikiki or it would cost us extra to call for an Uber ride. The same thing when they still had the Yellow Line (Dining Express), it doesn’t start operation until around 3 PM so we can’t have those famous malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery in the morning.
  • Frequency of Stops in a Particular Trolley Stop (each line varies) – Check the Waikiki Trolley Schedule before hopping off a trolley line to check out an attraction, do take note of how long before you can catch the next ride back so you can plan how long you should stay at an attraction especially if you think you’re gonna get hungry and the attraction is nowhere near a restaurant. You’ll find the exact time on the Waikiki Trolley Map Guide.
  • The Map – The Waikiki Trolley map gives you an overview of the routes. It helps you see how much of Waikiki and Honolulu you’re visiting. The Waikiki Trolley Map can guide you when you want to visit a particular restaurant but it’s not on a particular trolley stop but perhaps it is nearby like when we visited Waiola Shave Ice which is actually near Leonard’s Bakery on the Yellow Line so we really don’t need to drive. You can also see overlaps of routes and which lines you wish to skip if needed.

7. Check the weather before buying tickets to ride the Waikiki Trolley

We went to Oahu during Thanksgiving week and the weather was perfect with some rain here and there. The Oahu trolley and the double-decker bus have a roof over them but it is open-air thus it is not air-conditioned. I cannot tell you how it would be like during the summer as it was our first visit. Hopefully, it is breezy.

Waikiki Trolley Route
View of Honolulu from the Waikiki Trolley near the Punchbowl Cemetery. We saw a rainbow too!

8. Bring a light rain jacket or poncho and don’t wear a short skirt

If there will be some rain during your visit, bring a light rain jacket or disposable poncho so it can be handy when you need to hop off the trolley to visit an attraction and there is a downpour. The rain was on and off during our visit. Also, try not to wear a short skirt. The side of the trolley is not really fully covered, just some railings here and there. You get the idea!

9. Pack some drinks and snacks especially if you’re traveling with kids

It may be a long ride. The kids are gonna get hungry, thirsty, and all. You cannot eat or drink inside the trolley but you can do so while waiting for your next trolley to pick you up or while you’re at an attraction. Take note though that if you bring a bag to Pearl Harbor, you would need to put it on their locker. Smoking is also prohibited on the trolley.

10. Bring a waterproof phone holder and sunglasses

You’re going to be taking a lot of pictures while you’re on the trolley, from the glass swimming pool protruding out of the building to all the murals at Kakaako. But you are on a moving trolley and your phone is at risk of being dropped. What did I do? I brought my waterproof phone case which I typically only bring to the beach that has a neck strap so I don’t need to keep pulling my phone out of my bag and I don’t accidentally drop it as well.

Oh, and don’t forget your sunglasses, it’s an open-air trolley and it could be sunny and also breezy. Check our Hawaii Packing List with Free Printable Packing List for a guide on what else to pack for Hawaii.

By the way, if the trolley is ahead of schedule, the driver would try to slow down and let you take more pictures before proceeding to the next stop.


Other Things to Know about the Waikiki Trolley

  • The Waikiki Trolley offers Holiday Lights Tour during December
  • Does Waikiki Trolley go to Dole Plantation? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The Waikiki Trolley does not go to Dole Plantation. After 2 days of touring Waikiki &/or Honolulu using the Waikiki Trolley, we rented a car for 2 days to visit Disney Aulani, Dole Plantation, North Shore, Polynesian Cultural Center, and Kilauea Beach as the trolley doesn’t go that far.
  • Does the Waikiki Trolley go to the airport? No, it doesn’t. The Waikiki Trolley does not go to the airport and it doesn’t really have enough space for luggage. We rode an Uber to drive to and from Honolulu Airport to our hotel in Waikiki.
  • Waikiki Trolley to Pearl Harbor – since they took out the Waikiki Trolley Purple Line that takes you from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor, I recommend getting a Go Oahu Pass to take advantage of the Pearl Harbor tour plus other Oahu attractions at one low price. You can choose from 1 day, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 day pass. Make sure to get tickets in advance to see the USS Arizona Memorial or you’d have to arrive early as it is on a first come first serve basis.

Waikiki Trolley Review

If it is your first-time visiting Oahu, Hawaii, I highly recommend riding the Waikiki Trolley to get around. We were able to save on the cost of renting a car for 2 days plus paying a parking fee for the rental. Since this trip was also an impromptu one (like we book that night and rode the airplane to Hawaii the next day), the Waikiki Trolley enabled us to see so many sights and attractions that we really didn’t have time to research about.

Most of the drivers were knowledgeable and friendly and gave us a good overview of the island and the attractions. The driver for our Yellow Line – Dining Express (no longer operational as of 2021) did not deliver though. We couldn’t hear her and as though she was really bored but we were also tired at that point and didn’t bother to ask her to speak louder anymore.

The trolley ride was not scary even though it has no seatbelts while the double-decker bus (Pink Line) was really fun as it was our first time riding one (ride on the top front). The trolleys were always in time as well and they were clean. 

I do wish though that buying tickets online was enough and that those tickets can serve as actual ride tickets versus needing to go to the ticket desk to exchange them for actual vouchers. Not sure if they have updated this old system yet. And also, some routes do overlap, so if you do ride the 3 Waikiki Trolley lines, you would be seeing a portion of Waikiki over and over again. Partly, the ride was tiring but that was because we tried to go on the 5 lines in the span of 2 days.

Overall though, for my Waikiki Trolley Review, we had fun, it was cost-efficient, and it was very educational. If we get to visit Oahu again in the future, I may purchase tickets to the Red Line so we can actually go down to the attractions this time to spend a few hours at Ionali Palace and dine and take pictures with the murals at Kaka’ako.

For this trip, we didn’t ride on the Blue Line which takes you to the coastline. We had plans to visit the kid-friendly beaches in Oahu and snorkel at Hanauma Bay but the Blue Line only lets you take a photo stop at Hanauma so there was no point riding it unless you just want to see it and have no plans to snorkel of course. We rented a car to visit instead.


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Waikiki Trolley

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