Throughout the years of AD 1400s – 1700s, and through much of the 1800s, the canoe was a principal means of travel in ancient Hawaiʻi. Canoes were used for interisland and inter-village coastal travel. In addition, extensive cross-country trail networks enabled gathering of food and water and harvesting of materials for shelter, clothing, medicine, religious observances and other necessities for survival. June 21, 1803 marked an important day in the history of Hawaiʻi land transportation with the arrival of the Islands’ first horses. Eventually, wider, straighter trails were constructed to accommodate horse drawn carts. Unlike the earlier trails, these later trails could not conform to the natural, sometimes steep, terrain.
It wasn’t until 1868, that horse-drawn carts became the first public transit service in the Hawaiian Islands, operated by the Pioneer Omnibus Line. In 1888, the animal-powered tramcar service ran track from downtown to Waikīkī. In 1900, an electric trolley (tram line) was put into operation in Honolulu, and then in 1902, a tram line was built to connect Waikīkī and downtown Honolulu. The electric trolley replaced the horse/mule-driven tram cars. The streetcars were replaced completely by buses (first gasoline and later diesel buses). In 1888, the legislature gave Dillingham an exclusive franchise for a steam railroad. Honolulu resident HP Baldwin is credited with having the first automobile back in October 1899 (it was steam-powered). The first gasoline-powered automobile arrived in the Islands in 1900.