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Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

6 posts
Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

We will be going to Kauai-Maui-Oahu Hawaii in November. Does anyone know where to rent cars with manual transmissions(MT) on these islands. I have rented from Aloha Toy Store in the past, but only on Maui and they rent sports/exotic convertibles. I am very uncomfortable/do not like automatics. The road to Hana is a joy with a small MT car. Thanks,


Albany, Oregon
Level Contributor
4,371 posts
21 reviews
11. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

I drove a manual trans for more than 20 years before purchasing my first automatic because I thought there was more enjoyment with a stick shift. What an idiot I was. Now I actually enjoy driving, between naps. Any little car will be a joy on the RTH when you or your passenger are not carsick. Maybe you are a closet race car driver.

Level Contributor
1,958 posts
1 review
12. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

I should've said that the road to Kokee is fun in a small car with a stick shift. Stick has the advantage of downshifting as you go into curves, so much the better for accelerating out of them, if you're in a low car so there's no chance of rolling. Yeah, it's a bit of a race-car driver attitude.

However, downshifting to use the engine brake on your way down the hill can be a matter of safety. Those who have followed the smell of burning brakes on a rental car all the way down the hill know what I mean. I actually have an automatic at the moment and definitely shift into the low gears when needed (tip: turning off overdrive shifts down one gear, then use the low gears on the automatic shifter). It's just much easier with a stick.

6 posts
13. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

Hi Rustyharpoon, you said,

"As a lifetime driver of cars with five speed transmission (or standard transmission) and having driven the Road to Hana many times I don't know what could possibly be "a joy" about driving Road to Hana with a five speed. You would never get it out of third gear and would be in first and second gear a lot of the time.

Please explain "the joy" of this."

I am also a life time driver of manuals(a senior in some places), and you are right about not going very fast, but I love shifting especially on a winding, twisting road. The road to Hana gives plently of chances to do that. That is the "joy". Don't need to keep going faster changing speeds all the time is enough. You need a small sporty car though and you have to LOVE driving. It wouldn't be much fun with a large car, truck, or even Dodge Viper/ Chevrolet Corvette.

Enjoy your day.


Level Contributor
421 posts
14. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

Have you ever driven the Road To Hana? You will have a great time shifting back and forth between first and second gear at an average of 15 to 20 miles per hour! What fun !!

Palm Springs...
Level Contributor
11,494 posts
127 reviews
15. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

I hate to agree with Rusty...but he is totaly correct....

I would say over half your time will be in first gear only... and his top speed of "20"_ would be generous to say the least proably you will average 15 mph for the trip....Your clutch will be so hot that you will smell it.....Hawaii is not a road race, or grand prix ... Main hiways are 25 to 55 max. and local streets 15 mph limits. You will be shifting every 10 to 15 seconds at 15mph for hours on end.

However, some people consider Russian Roulett fun.

Healy, Alaska
Destination Expert
for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Level Contributor
45,411 posts
44 reviews
16. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

There are just some of us who will always prefer a manual transmission . . . I am one of them as well. Even if I had to do 50 times, I wouldn't mind . . . now, stop and go city traffic, that sucks - I agree an auto is a bit better there. And while not related to Hawaii, when driving slick roads, brakes are not your friend - manual transmission always feels better to me. :) I would love that as an option when renting a car, but that usually isn't an option.

Level Contributor
41,171 posts
4 reviews
17. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

I'm another manual transmission lover, had been driving one for 37 years until last fall -- and hated getting auto trans rentals as I felt "wrong" without needing my right hand to shift or having anything to do with my left foot.

I finally switched when I changed cars. My new car actually has more power for acceleration than my manual did, so I gained on that rather than losing.

The new automatic transmissions, at least the new HONDA trannies, are so smart that the car always seems to be geared right without my doing anything. A long long way from the old days when I scoffed at automatic as being for people who don't really "drive."

What I appreciate most with the automatic is that stop and go traffic is much easier to deal with. There is more of that in Hawai'i than some might expect.

But good luck in your search! It's too bad the rental agencies don't have such a basic choice.

Sylvania, Ohio
Level Contributor
1,826 posts
24 reviews
18. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

I'm thinking with gas prices everyone would prefer a hybrid to rent.....

6 posts
19. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

Hi All, thanks for all you feedback. There was a glitch with the site last time I was in here and it has taken several days to get back. I still love my manuals and I am not trying to set lap times. I have done the road to Hana twice with a manual and yes most of the time may be it was only 15-20 mph, but I still found it enjoyable, more than I would of with an automatic. I also do at least one hour or so of stop and go traffic every day and I would still rather have my manual. Did about 5 years of driving around NYC with a manual, talk about traffic getting out, especially on Friday's. Still didn't mind the manual, more concerned about getting bumped in the slow traffic or just going nowhere. Scariest part in Maui was coming down from the Volcano with an automatic that would not let you use all the gears it had, again this was fairly slow speed. There was the frequent smell of hot brakes and not from our car. Have found Hawaii traffic occasionally busy especially Honolulu but again I have seen much worse. On Maui I don't think I have every gone much more than 45, but that was fine, enjoyed the scenary and the drive. I am not looking forward to the day when I won't be able to drive a manual and probably the auto companies in North America will take that away before mother nature or old age will.


London, United...
Level Contributor
1,122 posts
14 reviews
20. Re: Manual Transmission Car in Hawaii

You should come to the UK for a holiday, nearly everyone drives a manual here, not many people have automatics. And you have to take your driving test in one, a very very few people take it in an automatic if they really really cant pass in a manual, but then that means theyre only certified to drive an automatic. Ive only met one person my whole life who has done that.

So here if you rent a car it will be a manual unless you ask for an auto.

So when I had to drive in Maui last year I was quite worried because I didnt know how to drive an automatic and I didnt like the way it just starts moving without you doing much! So I had a few practise drives in my Dads automatic car before I went.

However, I probably will buy one one day, because they are much better when sat in traffic jams because it saves your leg muscles on the clutch.

Arent jeeps mostly manuals if you didnt mind renting one of those though?

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