Hawaii's Ferry Big Development
While doing some research for last weekend's Way to Go issue, I stumbled across this tidbit: Starting in July, the Hawaii Superferry will start shuttling passengers from Honolulu (on the island of Oahu) to either Maui or Kauai. The ferries can hold more than 850 passengers and about 280 cars, so you don't have to leave your beloved rental car behind if you go to another island.
Cool, eh? Then I checked out the prices on the Superferry Web site, and was surprised to see that fares start at $42 each way per person for weekday travel reserved in advance. The car fare starts at $55 each way (it's not clear from the Web site if this includes taxes, but you can't buy tickets now anyhow). So a couple going from Oahu to either Maui or Kauai (about a three-hour ride) and intent on dragging along their rental will pay at least $139 each way, or $278 round trip.
I'm trying to decide whether this is one of the coolest, most relaxing things in the world to do, or one of the biggest time-wasters. I'm usually all for wasting time (particularly in Hawaii), but having to get to the ferry terminal and chill, then sit for three hours to get to another island, then wait in line to drive off the ferry with 280 other cars sounds a bit much.
And consider this: Flying may be cheaper.
Fares have come down considerably as different carriers -- including Pacific Wings, Aloha and Hawaiian airlines -- compete for the lucrative inter-island market. go! airline, for example, offers $39 advance-purchase one-way fares among the islands. I checked online for next October and found that, including tax, the round-trip go! fare from Honolulu to Kauai is $89.80. The flight is only 40 minutes, and even though you have to go to the airport, it could, conceivably, shave hours off of the commute.
Further, PWExpress, part of Pacific Wings, offers $29 fares on flights from/to Honolulu, Molokai, Lanai and Maui. That's about $75 per person round trip, with taxes.
Still, the Superferry intrigues me, and I'll be watching closely to see how it does. It'll be nice not have to check bags and wait in another rental car line (plus week-long car rentals are often cheaper per-diem than three- and four-day mini-rentals). Seeing the islands from the water is always something special, and we all do a little too much running around (yes, you, too) when we're in Hawaii.
But I'm interested to know: If it turns out it's cheaper to fly than to ferry around, what would you do?
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