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Destination Expert
for Turks and Caicos
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7,719 posts
6 reviews
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Is the traffic as bad as I have been reading about in Kauai? Are there better times, and days to travel around Kauai?

How long does it take to get from the airport to the North Shore usually?

Thanks for any information.

Venice, Florida
Destination Expert
for Kauai
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3,126 posts
108 reviews
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1. Re: Traffic?

Traffic congestion lies in the eye of the behiolder. Having said that, I don't consider traffic to be a problem on Kauai. Yes, you will run into some slowdowns at morning and evening rush or at a construction site, like anywhere else. But you have to realize that Kauai is almost all two lane roads and quite rural. If you avoid the times when most people are going to or coming from work, you won't have a problem. And even if you do travel at those times, it is no big deal. Just get on island time and allow yourself a little extra time to get there. The stretches that can clog up pretty good are just south of Lihue to Puhi and in the Kapaa/Wailua area. A non-peak trip to thenorthshore (say Princeville) should take aa little over an hour.

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137 posts
1 review
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2. Re: Traffic?

Yeah, sometimes traffic slows to a crawl, but the good news is that you are driving slow enough to enjoy the scenery. The key is to not stress about it, forget that your car has a horn, and remember that you are now on Kauai time. :)

Oxnard, California
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1,934 posts
11 reviews
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3. Re: Traffic?

Compared to almost any U.S. city, traffic on Kauai is virtually nothing. Yes, you will have some slow-downs, but they are nothing compared to rush-hour traffic in most cities. Also, compared to most other Hawaiian islands, the traffic on Kauai is very light.

Kauai, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Kapaa
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24,641 posts
59 reviews
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4. Re: Traffic?

Weekdays are better than weekends through Kapa`a Town. You should definitely learn where the bypass is and use it except maybe early morning and dinnertime on. On weekday mornings there is a contra-flow setup which allows for 2 lanes heading south, the most trafficked direction in the morning. It lasts until 10:30, officially, but can be as late as 11:30.

I'm not as familiar with traffic patterns around Lihu`e, but IME you can avoid a lot of the traffic heading north into town by using the route that goes down by the port. There are some back roads which are useful. You'll need a map.

Traffic is nowhere near Boston levels. Just remember that *everything* moves slower here.

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38,728 posts
122 reviews
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5. Re: Traffic?

I usually bank on an extra 15-20 minutes through the few snarls of traffic especially if its Sunday after church or getting to the airport from Princeville. Nothing horrible but sometimes annoying through Kapaa.

Destination Expert
for Oahu
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45,374 posts
19 reviews
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6. Re: Traffic?

IMHO, it's not that there are bazillions of cars, but rather that the roads are insufficient and not well-designed. Scenery is nice!

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
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39,478 posts
4 reviews
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7. Re: Traffic?

I guess I am alone in this, but as long ago as 15 years back, the drive around Kaua'i from Kekaha to Ke'e seemed so ... impeded, might be the word, even though I was coming from the Bay Area, California. Perhaps because we had to the whole thing several times, rather than just a portion.

I felt the same about West Maui traffic.

I tend to not compare Hawai'i to the rest of the U.S. and am more concerned with what there is. I thought that there was a lot of congestion for such a small island. Say if you compared it to Mo'orea, there's a ton of traffic. :)

Kaua'i, HI
Destination Expert
for Kauai, Poipu, Lihue
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17,961 posts
35 reviews
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8. Re: Traffic?

Aloha from Kaua'i!

Yes, for sure Kaua'i is like Los Angeles compared to Mo'orea traffic!

Even with those darn fun buggies that you get stuck behind (thank heavens we don't have them here at least) - lol! I think that the traffic in certain areas of Maui as well as the obvious O'ahu commute areas are the things to worry about myself, JMO.

As far as traffic here - I don't know where the OP is from, looks like the Boston area maybe? So to compare our Kaua'i traffic to the highways and byways near and around Boston I would think it would be negligible.

Certainly we have traffic, and it is worse in some areas - and it is worse during commute hours - but still and all - unless a traffic accident closes the highway (in many places there are no alternate roads) - you'll not be sitting for hours in traffic waiting to get someplace - Kapa'a is the most "notorious" area here for traffic hang-ups, but you can run into red brake lights at other areas as well - usually just a matter of a few minutes.

I wouldn't stress about it - I usually don't - and generally the views that you have while you might be waiting are great - put some Hawaiian music on your radio and you'll be fine!

Malama Pono,


Kauai, Hawaii
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8,506 posts
9 reviews
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9. Re: Traffic?

We have learned the peak traffic times, contra flow, by-passes, and other alternate routes, and avoid the hassels.

Visitor count is down, as we can count the number of rental cars, as compared to local cars....and local vehilces are the big winner.

With a little bit of research, and getting used to the island, you will probably do just fine as to traffic.

Not even remotely like LA and Orange County areas, freeways, grid lock, and you just cannot get there from here, that were standard occurances for us on the mainland.

That being said.....any traffic accident, and especially anything serious can close the coastal highway ( two lane road ) from a short time, to several hours, depending on the severity of the accident.

Weekends are good due to NO CONSTRUCTION activity...however, traffic coming south into Lihue thru Kapa'a on a weekend morning can be a parking lot. Reason is not only visitors heading to the airport, or south and west side activites, or sight seeing, but the locals heading into Lihue for shopping, as well as to the south shore for bbq's , parties, and beaching it. Northbound should be OK.

We also plan our southbound back to home ( lihue ) drives,from the north shore, in the afternoon, before pau hana time, but after the construction guys are pau on their actual jobsites.

Close window, but works just fine.

Back when the economy was good......traffic coming from the westside, into Lihue, early mornings, the coastal road, would be backed up from the Puhi Light well west of the Tunnel of Trees( the road leading to poipu and koloa town ).

I have not driven that for some time, but we still plan our departures from the east side, Banyon Harbor, to yhe north shore, on Akuhini, to slip around the Lihue/Hanamaulu traffic, at about 09:30am.. Zip up north with great ease.

Well zipping is defined as 50 mph once in a while. Keep an eye out for very quick speed limit changes.

Please ease off on the stress when driving. Leave the watch in the dresser drawer at your accomodations, and remember that you do not have an

AT@T conference meeting to get to.

Get on island time, relax, enjoy the views..


Honolulu, Hawaii
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10,998 posts
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10. Re: Traffic?

Traffic has increased meaningfully in each of the last three decades...

And it will only get worse.

In 1980, there were 23,561 vehicles registered on Kauai, and 315 miles of paved roads. Or, about 75 "cars" per mile of roadway.

In 2010, there are some 77,000 registered vehicles (an increase of 226 percent) but only 394 miles of streets (increase of 25 percent). There are now 195 vehicles per mile.

Unfortunately, "Central" Kauai, from Kaloa to Kealia is going down the same path as Greater Kailua-Kona. Kihei and West Maui, and urban Oahu. And, as in all the one-road area of the islands, you can fall in behind the old mamasan cruiser at any time.

I almost blew a gasket when it took me well over half an hour to get from lower Puhi to Kapaa last week, a drive that used to take no more than 15 or 20 minutes just ten years ago.

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