We’ve pulled together a list of smartphone apps that will come in handy for your next Hawaii vacation. They’re helpful Hawaii travel apps, many of which will save you time and money across the islands. We recommend downloading the apps, setting up any accounts, and getting familiar with these useful tools, prior to arrival.
1. AlohaSafe Alert
If you’re visiting Hawaii in the near future, download the official AlohaSafe Alert app (Apple/Google). This smartphone app uses Google/Apple technology to send push alerts to phones of any user who came in close contact with another app user who tested positive for COVID-19. There’s no need to worry about privacy, the app utilizes Bluetooth technology and your location is not tracked.
*If you’re traveling to Maui County (Islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai), it’s compulsory to activate the AlohaSafe Alert app in order to meet their entry requirements.
DaBus2 app (Apple/Google) is a helpful Hawaii travel app to use if you’re planning to ride TheBus, Oahu’s island-wide public bus system. The functionality is not perfect, but this smartphone app is useful for locating nearby bus stops and exploring bus routes and timetables. It also has the ability to track any bus in real-time to provide the best estimated time on when the next bus will arrive.
3. KHON2 WX – Radar & Forecasts
Download the KHON2 WX app (Apple/Google) for fast local weather information at your fingertips. Click the temperature panel in the app for an accurate hour-by-hour daily forecast, and overview of the week ahead. Note, you can change the temperature settings from Fahrenheit to Celsius. You can also stream the latest KHON2 TV news weather segments through this smartphone app.
Yelp app (Apple/Google) helps people find great local businesses thanks to users who provide personal reviews, upload photos of the experience, and add handy tips. This smartphone app is very popular in Hawaii, it’s particularly helpful when looking for nearby cafes, restaurants or bars. Join Yelp, log into the app and “check-in” at businesses, some places have special check-in offers like a free appetizer!
5. Open Table
Open Table app (Apple/Google) is key to making restaurant reservations in Hawaii. The majority of Oahu’s eateries are listed within the app and it’s easy to book a table, and subsequently change the time and/or cancel a table should your plans change. Note, Hawaii restaurants still allow for some walk-in patrons (but expect to wait) and bar seats at restaurants are always open seating.
6. Shaka Guide
The Shaka Guide apps are awesome GPS-based Hawaii audio tours. Choose from a range of Oahu drive itineraries, and let Shaka Guide lead the way providing turn-by-turn directions while highlighting points of interest. It’s like having your own private guide! They also offer an excellent self-guided Heart of Waikiki Waking Tour. Maui, Big Island, and Kauai drive itineraries are also available.
7. Native Stories
Created in Hawaii, Native Stories app (Apple/Google) is non-profit audio content platform that provides access to authentic stories and experiences of local people, places and cultures. As travelers explore the island of Oahu, browse the smartphone app to simultaneously browse, download, and listen to audio tours and stories for relevant points of interest in that particular area.
8. Tip Calculator % Gold
International visitors to Hawaii will benefit greatly from having this Tip Calculator % Gold app (Apple/Google) downloaded on their smartphone. Let the app work out the tipping math for you, split bills with ease and save money by tipping an exact amount or use the rounding feature. Most hospitality staff on your Hawaii holiday depend on tips for their living so it’s important to get it right.
*Read our Oahu Fast Facts for Tipping in Hawaii guidelines.
9 . Instacart
Instacart delivers groceries in Honolulu on the same day or up to six days in advance. They connect you with Personal Shoppers to shop and deliver groceries from any of these Oahu stores – Safeway, Costco, CVS Pharmacy, H Mart, Sam’s Club, Foodland, Times Supermarket, Target, Don Quijote, Best Buy, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond, and the Disney store. Use our referral link or promo code KWILSON8D0E5514F for a discount off your first delivery.
Airbnb app (Apple/Google) is not just for booking accommodation, it’s expanded into offering a wide variety of Airbnb Experiences (online and in-person). Download this smartphone app to access unique things to do hosted by Hawaii locals. On Oahu, try Surfing Lessons & Coffee in Waikiki, Waikiki Beach Styled Dream Photo Shoot, Waikiki Walking Foodie Tour or an Aloha Style Island Winery Tasting.
11. Art World Escape
The Art World Escape app (Apple), created by a Hawaii-based startup, connects visitors and locals face-to-face with artists in Honolulu for intimate behind-the-scenes experiences. These creative activities range from performances to workshops and art making classes, and take place at unique venues like artists studios or on walking tours in the lesser known neighborhoods.
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some AWE experiences may not be available. Please contact the business directly for up to date information.
Uber app (Apple/Google) is life-changing for getting around Hawaii with ease. It’s popular to/from the major island airports and in the main towns on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai. To use the app, drop a pin for a pick-up, choose the drop-off, and watch the GPS tracker to see your driver en-route. It is conveniently cashless, any ride charge and tip you provide is billed to your credit card.
13. Uber Eats: Food Delivery
Lyft app (Apple/Google) is a competitor to Uber, it serves as an alternative ride-share option across the Hawaiian Islands. We find that Uber vehicles tend to be a little nicer than Lyft vehicles, but both will get you from A to B. To use the app, drop a pin for a pick-up, choose the drop-off, and watch the GPS tracker to see your driver en-route. The ride is conveniently cashless, the ride charge and any tip you provide is billed to your credit card.
15. Charley’s Taxi
Charley’s Taxi app (Apple/Google) is the digital way to book Hawaii’s most reliable transportation service, in operation since 1938. With just a few taps on your phone, one of their professional taxi drivers will be on the way to your location. All drivers pass rigorous safety evaluations and unlike other ride-share apps, they don’t practice surge pricing. For best use, make an account within the app.
16. Turo – Better Than Car Rental
Turo app (Apple/Google) is a peer-to-peer car-sharing program, it’s like Airbnb but for cars. Touted as the world’s largest car sharing marketplace, this app allows you to search a vast selection of unique, locally-owned cars on Oahu. Book the car of your dreams and start exploring the island, it’s as easy as that.
17. Hui Car Share – Car Rentals
Hui Car Share app (Apple/Google) is a round-trip, station-based car share program where you can reserve a car by the hour or day and unlock it with your smartphone (all vehicles are available 24-7). They have 130+ cars across 50 stations on the island of Oahu. For locals it provides all the benefits of having a car without the hassle of actually owning one. For visitors it ensures instant car rentals are nearby.
Biki app (Apple/Google) is the best way to access Hawaii’s bicycle-sharing program. Biki has 130+ stations across the city of Honolulu. It’s an easy way to take short trips along Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Kakaako, and beyond. Ride for $4 per Single Ride or $20 for a Free Spirit bank of 300-minutes. Set up your account and get familiar with the app before arrival.
*Hawaiian Style Rentals is another fantastic choice for bike rentals in Waikiki. Chain your bike wherever they want to stop, no need to find a docking station. Every rental is offered a helmet even though it is not required by State law (Biki doesn’t offer helmets). Every bike rental comes equipped with a rear rack, lock, water bottle holder, front pouch, bike bell, optional bungee cords, and custom tour maps.
19. Bite Squad – Food Delivery
20. DoorDash – Food Delivery
21. Surfline – Surfing Companion
Surfline app (Apple/Google) can be used as a trusted surf report, forecast and coastal weather tool when you’re in Hawaii. Check popular beaches daily on Oahu including Diamond Head, Populars, Publics, Canoes, and Waikiki Beach, each one is given a rating with surf height, swell, tide and wind information provided. There’s also live video cams of current conditions. Free and paid versions of the app are available.
22. Drops: Fun Language Learning
Hawaii is the only U.S. State with two official languages, Hawaiian and English. Drops app (Apple/Google) helps you learn Hawaiian words in a fun and interactive way. Gradually build your Hawaiian vocabulary by practicing lessons across a variety of topics. Some useful Hawaiian words for travelers are found in the Food & Drink and Travel & Vehicles sections, and the Local Hawaiian Words lesson.
23. Duolingo – Language Lessons
Hawaii is the only U.S. State with two official languages, Hawaiian and English. Duolingo app (Apple/Google) offers an in-depth language learning environment. It’s a science-based teaching methodology that aims to prepare you for real conversations. If you’re serious about speaking, reading, listening, and writing the Hawaiian language, this is a fantastic app to download and use.
24. Lokal Discounts
Lokal Discounts app (Apple/Google) is focused on providing digital offers for Hawaii-based businesses! It’s by the same creator as the Hawaii Happy Hour app (it’s the revamped version), so it provides Happy Hour information, but in addition, exclusive discounts and last minute deals from local restaurants, cafes, activities, and more. No more worrying about paper coupons, use this mobile directory!
25. Hawaii Revealed
Hawaii Revealed apps (Apple/Google) are an extension of their award-winning Hawaii Revealed guidebooks. They anonymously review everything in Hawaii and offer up their unbiased and no-nonsense opinion. Invest in these apps to get the low-down on Hawaii’s local beaches, attractions, sights, activities, and more. They’re also helpful when trying to figure out where to stay thanks to their concise hotel summaries.
*If you prefer to purchase the actual books, click here.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Maridav