Motorcycle Touring: Hawaii

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Rent a bike on Hawaii

In New York they head to Miami. In the Northwest we usually just stay home. But, when you've finally had enough of winter and need to get out and ride, perhaps you'll get a little tropical? Hawaii is just the place!

The four main islands of Hawaii (Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai) all offer Harley rentals. On a recent visit to Kauai we took the plunge and here's what we found.


On Kauai there are two places to rent. Each has it's benefits and drawbacks. This is what we discovered:

Ray's Motorcycle Rentals, Kapaa

Ray!Operated by Ray and his son Ross, Ray's features only Harley's. Ray's is the original rental company on the island starting up 13 years ago. Prices start at $100 for four hours and go up from there depending on the bike you select. Additional hours are rated at about $15 per. All of Ray's bikes are in top shape and typically they have six bikes on hand at the start of each day. No advance reservations from the mainland excepted, but you can book in advance once you're on the island. Here's what you get for your money:

  • Gloves

  • Jacket

  • Glasses

  • $1,000 insurance deductible

  • Ray's custom map and his knowledge of the island

  • Choice of Sportsters, Heritage Softails, Road King or a trike

Jumping on the success of Ray's, Activity Warehouse opened a side business called Hawaiian Riders which rents exotic cars and Harleys. Prices on the HD's start at just $69 for three hours, but a bike and helmet is about all you get for your money. All bikes are in top shape and they typically keep about nine bikes on hand. The outlet has Softails and Fatboys. Your insurance deductible triples to $3,000 here!

Taking your ride

Aloha RidingThe day we rode, Ray's wasn't willing to rent a bike on account of "iffy" weather. We went to Hawaiian Riders and had a bike in 15 minutes.  

From Kapaa you have the choice of riding north to the end of the road, or south to the end of the road. You cannot drive the entire circumference of Kauai so you pick one direction or the other, or do both and expect to have the bike out for the whole day.  

The picture to the above left was taken at a pullout.  Do not ride the bikes on dirt roads as they're not made for it and often flood out. As Ray puts it" If I have to get you unstuck on a dirt road, I'll put you in the back of the El Camino with the bike, even if it's raining, and you'll be charged extra accordingly."

To the South

If the weather shows signs of rain we suggest you head south along the lower side of the island as it's typically drier there.  While the main roads will take you where you want to go, we recommend sidetracking over to the Menehune Fish Pond, Koloa Town and through the Coffee fields to the west. Once you pass through Waimea you'll head up the ridge toward Waimea Canyon Lookout. Ascending upward to above 3,000 feet you'll enjoy the twisties and the excellent handling ability of a Harley will jump out at you. Stop at the first lookout and have a peak at Hawaii's Grand Canyon - an incredible site. From there you may continue up the road to the end and have a look at the Kalalau Valley lookout. If there's fog, simply wait a few minutes as it typically rolls in and out many times during an hour.  There's plenty of food stops along the way and a little pre planning will be useful.

To the North

Publisher on Vacation.  Hanali'e Taro Fields on the North Side Ride.If it's a beautiful day consider a ride north to Ke'e beach. This trip will offer you a lot of beach views and you'll ride past a dairy farm, lighthouse and the site of where South Pacific was filmed. There are no real alternate routes so you'll be on the highway with everyone else. Once past Princeville the road gets much more twisted and stays that way for the next ten miles until you reach the end. Be sure to check out the excellent beach there.


A few words on safety. If you think no one sees you when you're riding at home, wait till you ride in Hawaii. Between the locals and the tourists from retirement communities you can bet nobody knows you exist on a motorcycle so as always, remember that everyone and everything is a potential accident. There is no helmet law in Hawaii but we strongly recommend you wear one. Also, tailgating is more common than pork at a luau so we strongly recommend the alternate roads when possible and try to stay calm when necessary.

2000 Models at Ray'sYou may be covered on your existing insurance policy for a rental, but it's a good idea to find out ahead of time. That $3,000 deductible at Hawaiian Riders could put a nasty dent in your next vacation fund if Eleanor from Sun City whacks your bike. If you're not covered on your own we highly recommend renting from Ray's.

Bikes from Hawaiian Riders do not have keys unless you request one. They have yet to have had a theft, but it's not a bad idea to keep the bike in your sight at all times when you're not on it.



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