Guide to Booking Hawaii Inter-island Flights or Ferry

Oahu by AirFrom my many trips to Hawaii, I’ve determined that island hopping around the Hawaiian Islands may not be as straightforward as you might think. In fact, navigating from island to island can sometimes be confusing. To help clear confusion , I’ve created this guide to inter-island travel. Though this guide was originally written in 2009, we keep it up to date as ferry and flight services comes and go in the Hawaiian islands.

Three things you need to know from the start:

  • The predominate method of inter-island travel is by air. Most people assume there’s a huge network of ferries to transport you from island to island. That’s not really the case in Hawaii. Ferry service is only available between Maui and Lanai and Maui and Molokai.
  • The vast majority of flights route through Oahu’s Honolulu Airport (HNL), though Maui (OGG) has started to become a secondary hub within the Hawaiian Islands.
  • As you island hop, you’ll discover that some islands have more than one airport. How do you know which airport to choose? Check out our guide, Flying to Hawaii – How to Choose the Right Airport. With Oahu’s Honolulu Airport being the major hub of Hawaii, all the other islands are often referred to as “neighboring islands”. If you want to travel from neighboring island to neighboring island, most of the flights will connect in HNL. With a limited number of direct flights between neighboring islands, I recommend that you search for direct flights when they are available as they can save you hours of needless transit and connection time that you could be spending on a beach.

So, as you are searching for inter-island flights between say Kauai (LIH) and the Big Island (either Kona’s KOA or Hilo’s ITO), for example, the vast majority of flights for that route include a connection in Honolulu (HNL).  In that example, if you aren’t careful in selecting your flights, you can end up spending upwards of six hours in transit for what should be about an hour long flight if it was direct. If a direct flight is not available, then be careful to choose a connecting flight that minimizes the connection time.

Here, I want to provide you with the resources you need to find inter-island travel providers. We’ll start out looking at the air options.

IMGP1299

Inter-island Travel by Air

Here are all the inter-island air carriers along with a few notes including some of the local background. (Note that you can visit the individual sites directly to determine their current deals. Just click on the name of each carrier.)

Hawaiian Airlines
HawaiianAirlines.com
This airline is most established and has the largest inter-island fleet of all jet engines. They fly to all the major islands. Hawaiian Airlines is our preferred airline for inter-island flights. From our experiences, their inter-island aircraft is significantly larger (e.g. jets), roomier, more stable and cleaner than the others. As another benefit, they usually provide free maps to your destination island, too.

‘Ohana by Hawaiian Airlines
www.HawaiianAirlines.com
Hawaiian Airlines started offering flights to Lanai and Molokai in March 2014. Their new turboprop planes seat 48 passengers.

Mokuele Airlines
MoluleleAirlines.com
This very small airline flies to Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii’s Big Island. Mokulele flies with nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft. We have flown several times on Mokuele. Their flights normally leave from the commuter terminals which are much less stressful than the main terminals.

Island Air
IslandAir.com
Island Air flies turboprop planes sized for up to 64 passengers. They fly between Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Lanai. We have been reluctant to fly on Island Air after some very bad experiences. The worst experience being that they delayed a flight for mechanical reasons that resulted in us missing our connecting flight to the mainland. That delay cost us $300 in change fees with out mainland carrier plus we had to stay another day. To make matters worse, their customer service was atrocious and made false claims. We hear that Island Air operations are improving after Larry Ellison purchased the airline. Until we fly with them again and have a pleasant experience, we are reluctant to recommend them.

Pacific Wings
PacificWings.com
This smaller airline offers service to all island except for Kauai. From this system map, you can see that this small company offers flights to some of the smaller airports like Kapalua on Maui and Kalaupapa on Molokai. This company also offers charter service.

go! Airlines (Operated by Mesa)
iflygo.com
Ceasing operation in Hawaii effective April 1, 2014.

*** General Advice For Finding the Cheapest and Shortest Flights ***

When you are looking for an inter-island flight, it’s best to explore all your options. I would advise you to search the individual airlines websites as sometimes they offer better rates if you book directly with them online. If you are short on time, use a flight search engine like CheapAir.com – just make sure that you notice the number of stops, e.g. connections.

Inter-island Travel by Ferry

After the downfall of the Hawaii Superferry, there are only two inter-island ferry options and they both connect to Maui. Just a word of caution — be advised that afternoon ferry rides can be pretty rough across the Auau Channel (between Lanai and Maui) and the Pailolo Channel (between Maui and Molokai.) The winds across the water are typically stronger in the afternoons creating bigger waves and choppier water across the channels.  I am not prone to sea sickness, but I almost lost my cookies on the Maui-Molokai Ferry on an afternoon ride.

Here are the limited ferry options that are currently available in Hawaii.

Maui-Lanai Expeditions
This ferry offers scheduled ferry service from Lahaina on Maui to Lanai at Manele Bay. In addition to the ferry service, you can purchase Lanai tour packages with this ferry service.

Maui-Molokai Ferry
This ferry offers offers scheduled service from Lahaina to Molokai at Kaunakakai Harbor. From there you can pre-arrange to pick up a rental or choose an option for fully guided tours.


Ohana Beach Rentals

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

106 comments

  1. I’m going to miss the Superferry! What a drag… I had planned to go “Car Camping” with the family on Maui this summer. Oh well. :^(

    BTW – I’ve been living here for 10 years and had no idea that we had two other ferries! :^)

  2. Dave – yeah, I think the Superferry offered a nice alternative for inter-island travel and it’s too bad that option is gone.

    I’m glad that a long-time resident, such as yourself, can learn something new from this blog from time to time. Traveling in Hawaii and living in Hawaii are vastly different.Through all my travels to Hawaii, I’ve had to solve lots of logistics issues, where a resident probbly wouldn’t have the same needs.

  3. I have a question: we are flying to HI from DC. We land in HNL but want to go straight to Kauai. Since we are flying USAirways to get to HNL, will we have to get our luggage at baggage claim and then go through security again for our flight to Kauai? How much time should we allow between flights? We arrive at 3:45 pm (if all goes according to plan) so what time should we look for a departing flight to Kauai? Thanks for your help!

    • tracy –

      First check to see if you can check your luggage all the way through to Kauai. If you call US Airways and explain the situation, they may be able to let you know.

      Next, try not to check luggage so that you’ll completely eliminate the possible need to reclaim it and go through security. It is by far the least stressful way to fly…and cheaper to avoid baggage fees. See my article for strategies for just bringing carry on luggage: http://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/08/22/six-strategies-for-packing-light/ If you just bring carry ons, you’ll just need to go from one terminal to another all within the secure area.

      If the above suggestions don’t fit your situation, to be on the safe side, I’d allow 1.5 hrs between flights.

      One good thing about inter-island flights, is that if you miss one, there’s a good chance you can make it onto the next flight.

  4. We would like a simple look at a couple of Islands–is a cruise line the way to go? Which one is your favorite? If we can spend 2 weeks on this trip, we would like to spend half of it on land, and not on the ship.

    • Susan – I can only share my opinion based on what you’ve described what you’d like.

      While a cruise is a great way to see the major islands in a short amount of time, personally, I prefer experiencing Hawaii on the land. I enjoy waking up to the sound of birds chirping and then in the evening, taking a stroll along paths lit with tiki torches.

      I can honestly say I love all the Hawaiian Islands. They all have their own special features and personalities, so it’s not like if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.

      Tell me a little bit more about what you enjoy doing on vacation and I’ll suggest some islands that are best likely to suit you.

  5. This is a great article! My fiance and I are spending our honeymoon at the Four Seasons Manele Bay on Lanai. We will be there for 12 nights (yay for the 4th night free deal!) but want to visit the Big Island for one day. I’ve been doing a lot of research to find good deals because fares are so expensive to and from Lanai.

    I’m a little confused – Hawaiian Airlines quotes $248 from Hilo to Honolulu to Lanai City (the last leg is operated by Island Air) but booking the SAME flights through the separate airlines is $137.

    Would you recommend booking the flights separately? Is there a reason HA is charging so much? We would not check any baggage. I would gladly deal with the extra paperwork to save over $100 each.

    • Hi Brittany – you will love the Four Seasons at Manale Bay. Have you seen my recent review? http://www.govisithawaii.com/2010/04/12/review-update-four-seasons-resort-lanai-at-manele-bay/

      As for day flights to the Big Island – that’s odd that you are getting such differing prices — especially since HA doesn’t offer flights from Lanai City. They use Island Air for that service to Honolulu from Lanai City.

      You might want to call them and explain the situation.

      The only risk you take in booking separately is that if for some reason one of the flights are delayed, you’re at the mercy of the other airline to honor your flight. It’s a fairly low risk. If it was me, I’d book separately to save.

      Hope that helps. Let me know how it works out.

  6. Hi Sheila, You seem very knowlegable so here goes. My company is flying me to Waikiki in March 2011 and providing 3 nights at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I am not going all that way (from Ontario) and not staying longer. Spouse and 13 year old son also coming. I have found availability and am looking at booking Wyndham Bali Hai Villas in Princeville on Kauai for the first week, Vacation International Sea Mountain on Hawaii (looks like lots to do-black sand beach; Volcano National Park and Akaka Falls) for the second week and ending with the 3 days in Waikiki for my work conference. No clue though how to coordinate all this. Do we have to fly in to Waikiki and go from there? Any input on the resorts I am looking at or advice in general? Any help in planning a smooth vacation would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Thanks for the great information in your article and in response to the other questioners. I have a question, too.

    My wife and I (sans children for the first time in years! :-)will be in hawaii in December and are returning to the mainland on a weekday evening close to christmas. Our flight back to the US leaves from Maui, but we will be spending much of our trip in kauai. We are planning to fly from Kauai to Maui through honolulu on the same day we will be flying back to the mainland, but this interisland flight is unaffiliated with our homeward bound flight that evening. We are trying to figure out what time to fly back to maui on the 23rd in order to be sure we can catch our flight home, assuming no bags to check. Given that it is close to the christmas weekend, it is even more important than usual that we do not miss our flight because of some delay with security or heavy airport traffic that would have been expected by soemone with more experience. For example, if our flight back to the mainland leaves maui at 6pm, should we plan on being back in maui at 4? 2? 3? some other time? We don’t have any experience with the inter island flights. Any information/advice you can give us would be much appreciated.

    • Marc – interisland flights generally run like clockwork in Hawaii, but as you have suspected with the holidays, the airport and flights will be close to full capacity. If your flight to the mainland leaves Maui at 6pm, I think you’d be safe if you plan to arrive in Maui at around 4pm.

      Some of the interisland carriers make you check luggage if it exceeds weight and/or dimension limits. Bear that in mind and check the limits as you are considering your interisland flight options/fares. We have found that sometimes the rules are enforced and sometimes not. So, it’s hard to say absolutely.

      For example, in April/May we flew in and out of Kauai on Hawaiian via Honolulu. The very same carry-on luggage that we flew into Kauai from Honolulu as carry-ons had to be checked (with a fee!) when we left Kauai.

      Another time (during the holiday period last year) we flew from the mainland to Honolulu to Lanai to Honolulu to the Big Island to Honolulu to the mainland. (Complicated!) We used both Island Air and Hawaiian Air for interisland flights. Luggage we flew into Lanai with Island Air as carry-ons had to be checked with a fee when we left Lanai.

      Please verify this with the airline, but our experience has been that the inter-island carriers are able to check luggage through to our final destination. So, we did not have to leave the secure area to collect our luggage and go through security again.

      Hope that helps and enjoy your visit.

    • You also might want to check out the airport information available at:
      OGG – Maui – http://hawaii.gov/ogg
      HNL – Honolulu – http://hawaii.gov/hnl

      They have airport maps, FAQs, etc

  8. Sheila,

    My spouse, a friend of ours and I are beginning our research into a trip to Hawaii. Because two of us are teachers, our options are limited. We must either go for one week in April or go during the summer. Because we would like to stay a couple of weeks, we are leaning toward the late July or early August. However, I have read that November or December through March are actually the high season months. Are there sights we would not be able to see and would regret missing if we were to wait until the July-August time frame; sights that would make an April vacation a better option?

    Thanks

    • Steve,

      December (around Christmas) through March are “high season months” only because it’s typically cold on the US Mainland. Folks in the northern states go to Hawaii to warm up. Humpback whales are also visiting the islands that time of year, but the warm weather is the biggest draw that time of year.

      Depending on what island you plan to visit, you will most likely still see humpback whales in April.

      You might want to check out this article I wrote on the best times to visit Hawaii: http://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/10/15/the-best-times-to-visit-hawaii/

      Happy planning!

  9. Hi Sheila,
    thanks for this great article. it is very helpful but sure how updated it is. my family and I (with 3 kids), are arriving from Israel this april via LAX to to OGG (maui) for camping trip. from there we would like to get to the Big Island for two weeks and after to Honolulu for another 2 weeks. we are hopping to camp out the whole stay.
    my questions are:
    1. are there any ferry services b/w these islands?
    2. if so, what is the travel time?
    3. any place online I get more info about it like prices and schedule?
    4. can you recommend any camping sites with hot showers on Maui, Big Island, and Oahu.
    again,
    thank you

    • Kobi-

      This article is still accurate. A few flight paths may have changed here or there, but nothing of huge significance.

      So, there is NO ferry service from Maui to the Big Island or from the Big Island to Oahu.

      For camping, you can find all the Hawaii camping information available here: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/camping/ There’s really not any private camping that I’m aware of beyond what the state provides.

  10. Hey Sheila,

    Thx for the very helpful information. I thought hopping from island to island would be easier that a major airline but I guess I need to see it like here in CA. It would be like flying from LA to SF. Here, you can drive but it takes a while.
    I had to get perspective of the islands.

    • Hi Allie,

      Your California analogy is a good one. Though the flights in Hawaii are usually only about 20 minutes long.

      Island hopping in Hawaii is fairly easy, but for the most part, we have to depend on flights to hop us around. :)

  11. Hi,

    Great article! Appreciate all the advice!

    We are traveling to Hawaii in mid August of this year. We are staying in Ohau for 5 days, and the Big Island for another 5 days. Me, the wife and 3 kids (5yr, 16yr and 17 yr). On which side of both islands would you suggest we stay?

    Also would you suggest booking our inter island flights now, or take a chance on getting last minute deals?

  12. Dear Shiela, Your website and expertise is truly wonderful! I am flying in with my family to Waikiki for two weeks in April. But we would love to see Maui. What’s the most economical way of seeing all the natural beauty of Maui? My husband is in his 70′s and can walk a bit, but not that much. Thank you so much! Mary

  13. Dear Sheila, Thank you so very much for your great advice! We just don’t know how to thank you. It’s been our dream to go to Hawaii for decades, and now that we are finally retired, we are truly looking forward to this. I went to kayak and looked up airfairs – they all seem to be around 180/rd trip. Is this about right? But I do not know which airport on Maui to chose. There are 6 different choice? Which one do you recommend? And our friends recommended a relatively inexpensive hotel on Maui -Napili Surf Beach Resort. Do you like this one? Or do you have any recommendations about nice, but inexpensive hotels in Maui? My husband loves waterfalls and scenic places. Best if car accessible since we are not spring chickens. All the places you send sounds wonderful. If we stay more than one night, is there anywhere in particular you could recommend we stay? Thank you again for helping to make our dreams come true!
    Mary

    • Mary – I’m glad that you are making plans to make your dream trip to Hawaii come true. It is paradise on earth!

      Maui’s main airport is OGG in Kahalui. All the other airports are much smaller and don’t offer as many flights, rental car choices, etc.

      $180pp round trip sounds a little bit on the highside, but only by about $40. I just did a quick check on Kayak picking some random April dates and got $142 per person. As I mention in this article, Hawaiian Airlines is the best of all the inter-island carriers. Their fleet is the largest, cleanest, and they give you free maps. :)

      Since you’re planning more time than just a day — you should plan a day going on the road to Hana. It’s loaded with waterfalls on a coastal rainforest. It can be a stressful drive with numerous hairpin turns and one-lane bridges. So, you might consider going with a small guided tour which takes away the stress because they know the road so well, know where the stops are and provide good commentary about the history and sites. http://www.govisithawaii.com/2010/04/14/touring-the-road-to-hana-independently-vs-guided-tour/

      As for where to stay — there’s tons of options. I’ve never stayed at Napali Surf Beach Resort, so I can’t speak from experience. Have you checked out their reviews on TripAdvisor.com? http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60634-d87317-Reviews-Napili_Surf_Beach_Resort-Lahaina_Maui_Hawaii.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

      The Napili area is quite nice. It’s in West Maui. Other nearby resorts you might want to consider — Napili Kai Beach Resort is highly rated. There’s lots of good options at Kaanapali Beach, too. We like the Sheraton Maui at Kaanapali Beach.

      Best of luck with your planning and trip!

    • We enjoyed Napili Resort. It’s free parking, calm beach, and often see turtles. Kaanapali is 10 minutes drives which has nice beach also but expensive hotels. Staff at Napili are nice. You can hike to Ritz Carlton Hotel which is also a nice hotel, but no swimming area. Just nice to visit.

      • Actually there is a really nice beach at the Ritz Carlton at DT Fleming Beach. Just keep following the path way on the oceanside of the resort, which leads you to that gorgeous beach.

  14. Hi Sheila! Great article, very helpful! I’m getting married September 3rd of this year, and we’re flying out of Raleigh, NC (RDU) on the 4th for our honeymoon.

    We’re staying in Waikoloa (Big Island) from the 4th thru 11th and then in Kaanapali (Maui) from the 11th thru the 18th.

    Any suggestions for the best way to arrange the flights? I’m thinking RDU to KOA (Kona) and then KOA to OGG (Kahului) and then OGG back home to RDU, but I’m not sure if I should try and get one big multi-city flight or try and split it up and book something thru Hawaiian Airlines. We’re also planning on renting cars on both islands to do our own exploring. Thank you for any help you can provide, it can be very overwhelming! -Will

    • Hi Will and fellow RDU’er. That’s our home airport, too. (http://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/06/26/where-do-i-live-on-hawaii/)

      I recommend that you try search and compare:
      - RDU – KOA – OGG – RDU as a whole. Kayak and Expedia allows you to look at a multi-city trip like that.
      - RDU – HNL, HNL – OGG, then separately look at your inter-island needs.

      From RDU, we usually fly American to either DFW or ORD and then direct from there to HNL. For us, we like cutting out a LAX stop which makes the travel time longer. Plus we like the bigger planes that fly from ORD or DFW. That’s our personal choice.

  15. First of all Shelia – THANK YOU for an amazing resource.

    Just starting to plan our 20-day trip back to Hawaii for the first time in 10-years for March & April 2012.

    You mentioned that larger planes fly from ORD & DFW compared with LAX, and I was wondering if this is a general rule? We’ll be flying into the States from the UK and therefore want to plan the shortest trip but one that is most comfortable.

    We’re looking to visit four islands in total, which I know is ambitious. With around five days on each island we will start with Oahu and end with Maui, but hoped that you might be able to advise if there would be any +ve or -ve to the order of the other two island we’re considering of Big Island & Kauai?

    Looking at maps I see that Kauai is further north and perhaps you might have an opinion of if we should substitute Kauai for either Molokai or Lanai to save on journey times but to try and enjoy the most of what is on offer?

    To give you an idea our trip will be a mixture of relaxing days, activities and trips to see the most of Hawaii we can. We’re not super fit but up for some walking and will be considering the need to hire a car on each island.

    Look forward to your thoughts and thanks in advance

    Wilf

    • Hi Wilf,

      From traveling from the East Coast of the US to Hawaii, we have found that direct flights from DFW (Dallas) and ORD (Chicago) to HNL have consistently offered the larger aircraft that we prefer. I should add that we try to put all our frequent flier eggs in on basket with American Airlines. DFW and ORD are major connecting hubs for American Airlines. I know AA flies from London to DFW and ORD direct (or at least they have in the past), so that could be an option for you.

      Other airlines may have different hubs with direct flights. For example Delta/Northwest would have Detroit and Atlanta. United Airlines would also have Chicago and Denver. Continental would have Houston, Cleveland, and Newark as hubs.

      Though Kauai is further north, it’s really just a short flight (less than an hour) from any of the other islands.

      With HNL (Honolulu) being the main hub in Hawaii, the vast majority of inter-island flights originate or connect there. It is really easy to get a nonstop inter-island flight from HNL to any of the other islands.

      Maui, Kauai, Big Island, Lanai and Molokai are called the “neighboring islands”. Non-stop flights from neighboring island to neighboring island are difficult to find, but they do exist. I suggest you take some time to determine the non-stops that are available and plan your logistics around that. I was just looking at Hawaiian’s flight map and search tool… I found that they offer a nonstop from LIH (Kauai) to OGG (Maui), but couldn’t find a nonstop in the other direction. I also found nonstop from KOA (Kona Big Island) to OGG and from OGG back to KOA.

      I recommend finding the nonstops to cut down on transfer time. Your vacation time is precious, so no need to spend more time in an airport than what’s necessary, right?!

      You’d probably benefit from reviewing these online island vacation guides:
      Kauai – http://www.govisithawaii.com/kauai-vacation-guide/
      Big Island – http://www.govisithawaii.com/hawaii-big-island-vacation-guide/
      Oahu – http://www.govisithawaii.com/oahu-vacation-guide/
      Maui – http://www.govisithawaii.com/maui-vacation-guide/

  16. Hi Sheila,
    My wife and I will be staying in Honolulu for a week in September. During that time we are thinking of visiting Kona to see some family for a day (maybe overnight). I have been looking at interisland flights and they seem to be $150+ RT each. Is this the cheapest way to travel? Do these prices seem right? A few years ago we did the same thing for $89 RT. Am I better off waiting until the date gets closer?
    Thanks for your help!
    -doje

    • Hi doje – Unfortunately those days of $89 round-trip interisland tickets are a thing of the past. With Aloha Airlines going out of business and the cost of fuel skyrocketing, interisland fares are near double what they used to be just a few years ago.

      I don’t have a crystal ball to say for sure, but I really doubt that the pricing you see now will go down. If I had to guess, I would guess that fares are more likely to go up than down.

      Just look at it as a investment in connecting with your family and a chance to see Kona again. :)

      Hope that helps.

  17. My son going to be living on Oahu for the next couple of years. How difficult/costly is it to move things from Island to Island if they can’t be taken on a plane (Stuff like scooters and furniture)? Craigslist has always been a good source for second hand stuff, but should I completely ignore anything that’s on a different island?

  18. Hi Sheila,

    We are going to be vacationing on Kauai. My husband really wants to do a helicopter tour of the volcano on Hawaii. Would he need to fly to the Big Island and then book a tour from there or are there tour companies who would have a package from Kauai?

    Sandy

    • Sandy,

      I am not aware of any tours from Kauai to the Big Island volcano. You would have to fly from LIH (Kauai) to ITO (Hilo) in order to take a helicopter tour of the volcano. With Kauai and the Big Island being on ends of the chain, I don’t believe there are any direct flights from LIH to ITO.

      I’d like to mention that I’ve toured both islands via helicopter and, in my opinion, Kauai is the best for helicopter tours. The island is truly stunning.

  19. Hi Sheila (another fellow RDU’r). We are going to HI this summer and flying into HNL at 11:30am. We are booked on a 5:30pm flight to Maui in the evening (w the option to go standby-for-free on earlier flights). Is there a way we can sneak in a HELICOPTOR Tour of the Big Island (volcano) from ITO airport (if we skip the 5:30 HNL-OGG flight). If we can manage a flight from HNL to ITO, and then Helicoptor to the volconos from ITO and back to ITO, and then from ITO to Maui later in the evening, my kids would be SO amazed at the learning opportunity. Is that too much to attempt (particularly since if we try to book it Ahead of Time, we might forfeit the tour if our Mainland-to-HNL flight is delayed. (Thanks for all the good advice you have here.)

  20. I wanted to point out that there may be a new reason to give your interisland travel biz to Hawaiian Airlines. My most recent experience with Go! Airlines was that the $s I saved booking with them (as opposed to Haw. Airlines) quickly evaporated when they charged us for “oversized” carry-ons. These were bags we had carried aboard umpteen other carriers more times we could count. They were apparently okay on our outbound flight but not on the return from HNL to Maui, as a petty, Aloha-less ground staffer told us he was “just doing my job”.
    My job, from now on, will be to avoid Go!Mokulele. They clearly are undercutting Hawaiian only to make up their revenue in other ways. That is how they put Aloha Airlines out of business, too.

    • Jay – That stinks, but Hawaiian has also done this same thing to us, too. Island Air has, too. Unfortunately, I think they’re all guilty of this dirty trick.

  21. Sheila,

    I’ve been looking, but cannot find a non-stop flight between Kona (KOA) and Molokai (MKK) and back. Does one exist? Thanks.

  22. We are planning a visit to the islands Mar 28th to Apr 13th.
    What is the best way to go from Ohau to Big Island, then to Kauai and back to Ohau. We are retired militiary and will be sstaying a military installations. Thanks in advance for any suggestions and informations. Eleanor

    • Eleanor — thank you for your military service.

      The best way to get around from Oahu to Big Island to Kauai and back to Oahu is with inter-island flights. Basically, that’s the only way since there is no an ferry service between those islands. Our favorite inter-island carrier is Hawaiian Airlines. They fly nice big, clean jets. Usually they give you a very good map of the island you’re flying into which is really useful.

      You should be able to easily find direct flights from Oahu to the Big Island at either the Kona (KOA) or Hilo (ITO) airports.

      Finding a direct flight from the Big Island to Kauai (LIH) might be hard to find or non-existent. So, you’ll probably have to connect in Oahu’s Honolulu (HNL) airport for that island hop.

      Finding a direct flight from Kauai back to Oahu will be a piece of cake.

      To simplify your search process, use the “Multi-city” option in the “Trip Type” for your flight search. That way, you’ll have all your flights under the same reservation.

  23. Hi Sheila,

    This is a great website, keep up the good work!

    This Nov we’ll be flying from Tokyo to HNL and then transfer to Kapalua Maui with Island Air (we’re staying in Kaanapali so we thought JHM is easiser since it’s closer than OGG). How long of a transit time do you think we’ll need for international arrivals, pick up luggage, clear customs, and head over to the commuter terminal? We have options for a 2 or 4 hour layover, would we be able to make it in 2 hours or would it be safer to book the later flight and then standby the earlier one if we make it out in time? Are there penalties for missing a flight and then standby the next one for Island Air?

    Thanks,
    Michael

    • Thanks for the kind words, Michael.

      Since I’ve never flown in to Hawaii from a foreign country, I’ve not seen their immigration/customs/baggage process and, unfortunately, I have no idea how long it normally takes there. You might want to email your HNL questions directly to them. Here’s the link for that: http://hawaii.gov/hnl/contact-us

      What part of the plane will you be sitting in? The closer to the front? The quicker it is to get through the lines.

      If I had to guess, I would guess that you might be able to make it with a 2 hour layover, but it will be very tight.

      For your standby penalty question – I recommend you ask Island Air directly. Here’s a link where you can submit your questions:http://www.islandair.com/contact-us/customer-relations/

  24. This whole inter island flights have become quite frustrating to me. I am shocked at the prices of the flights (wanting to fly from honolulu to kauai) and that some of the airlines won’t let us bring our surfboard (i.e. – go Mokulele) because its over 6 foot. I feel so frustrated and don’t know what to do!? the one airline (hawaiian air) would cost us $750+ to fly a stinking 29min flight!?! insanity!! if you have any suggestions…i would totally appreciate it. We really wanted to fly with go Mokulele(they have the best deals) but the whole surfboard thing has us stuck!

  25. Sad the environmental wackos had to ruin boat travel, too. My question is.do you have to go thru getting molested by TSA, every time you fly from Island to Island? If so, I will do a cruise or do one island at a time.

  26. Hi Sheila,
    I appreciated for all the advices. I am sure everyone found this website is super helpful.
    My boyfriend and I are planing to visit Hawaii this May.This is going to be our first time visiting Hawaii. We have a lot to concern while we are planing our trip. We are thinking to depart from San Francisco on May 11 (Friday) and come back by May 20 (Sunday)- will be 9 days & 9 nights. We are thinking to visit Oahu & Kauai Island this time. Maybe spending 4 days in Kauai and 5 days in Oahu. Should we fly from
    SFO (5/11)-Honolulu (5/16 AM)-Kauai (5/16 AM)- Honolulu(5/20AM)-SFO(5/20)

    or Should we SFO (5/11)-Honolulu (5/16 AM)-Kauai (5/16 AM)-SFO(5/20)

    or SFO (5/11)-Kauai (5/16 AM)-Honolulu (5/16 AM)- SFO(5/20)

    The price difference between option 1 and option 2 or 3 will be $200 cheaper.

    Which plan would you recommended? Will be very appreciate for any comments or advices.

    Both of us are 25 yrs old. Do you have any advice for us which hotel we should stay, we are trying to stay in the ones that’s next to the beach (like those where you can walk out to the beach from the room)
    We are hoping to explore the nature in Kauai, (waterfall, beach, boating…)
    My boyfriend wants to do snorkeling in either Oahu or Kauai, but the fact is that I don’t know how to swim. Do you know any snorkeling or scuba diving that is safe for those who dont know how to swim?

  27. Dear Sheila:
    Thank you for your invaluable service to travelers and the State of Hawaii! My son was granted from a major organization due to serious illness. He would like to go to Hawaii. They are granting a one week trip and we are clueless on the best island to see given the time frame. Trip will probably be in April or May and since the family will be going along we all like hiking,dining out, exploring, sightseeing…and while the rest of the family likes swimming/beach, it isn’t my thing. Would Maui be a good choice, or would it involve more travel time? We are on the East Coast. Also, are there nice private places to stay? We don’t like commercial venues. Any advice appreciated!

    • Hi Lucy,

      We fly from the East Coast, too. There are some flights direct from Maui from Chicago and Dallas, I know for certain on American Airlines. That definitely makes getting to Maui quicker.

      Even if you have to fly to Honolulu and connect to an interisland flight, that doesn’t add a ton of travel time when you consider that most interisland flights are only about 30 minutes.

      There are lots of nice oceanfront and oceanview vacation condos that you can rent. A condo definitely offers a lot more privacy plus other perks too: http://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/01/30/why-staying-in-a-condo-on-a-hawaii-vacation-is-a-savvy-choice/

      I think Maui could be a good choice for you. Also, you might want to consider Kauai depending on how much hiking you like to do. Either island is gorgeous with lots to offer.

      Hope that helps!

  28. Hi Sheila,

    We are planning for a 15 day trip to Hawaii in April and we want to cover at atleast 3 islands. Here is what we have planned so far:
    - fly from east coast to HNL, stay in Oahu for 3 days.
    - fly from Oahu to Kauai, stay Kauai for 6 days
    - fly form Kauai to Maui, stay Maui for 5 days
    - fly from Maui to HNL to catch a return flight back to mainland.
    Do you think its too much of a flying time and cost associated with it?
    Can you please suggest to optimize our itinerary a bit?

    • Hi Ripal,

      Looks like you have a great plan there. Though Honolulu is the main hub, Maui is starting to become a bit of a hub within Hawaii, too. So looks like you’ve got your Maui plans in the right place.

      I don’t think you’re itinerary is too much flying time at all. The inter-island flights are short. You also look like you’re planning a good number of days at each island.

      You might want to price out your to and from flights to Hawaii separate from your inter-island flights just to see if you can save.

      • Thank you Sheila for your reply.
        Considering the costs associated with the trip, we are thinking of trimming down to 10 day trip to Hawaii. This means, we have to drop Oahu from our itinerary but that leads to an another problem. Directly flights from mainland to Maui are atleast $250 more compared to flying to HNL.
        If we fly to HNL from mainland, we need to follow HNL-OGG-LIH-HNL route.
        If we fly to OGG from mainland, we have OGG-LIH-OGG route.
        I am all confused on making a correct decision.

        • If price and schedule are equal or comparable, go with the option that reduces the number of times you must connect. That reduces the chances of delays due to weather or mechanical issues.

  29. Hi Sheila,
    I am planning a trip to Hawaii with my wife. its a 9 day trip. What we have zeroed in are Moloka’i (3 days), Maui (3 days) and Lana’i (3 days). after doing lots of maths we have decided to land at Maui and do Island hopping. What I could not find is direct connection between Moloka’i and Lana’i. So what would be best way to go about it? How much is it going to take by ferry / air ?

    Thanks a Lot !
    Anuj

    • Hi Anuj – I’m not aware of a direct flight from Moloka’i to Lana’i either.

      You might compare connecting in Honolulu with flights versus using the ferry system. You could take the ferry from Moloka’i to Maui in Lahaina. From Lahaina, you could get the Lanai Expeditions ferry to Lana’i. Use the links in the article for each to check their current schedule and pricing for each ferry system.

  30. Planning a trip this June for 6 persons but don’t want to buy flights yet in case plans get cancelled last minute. How likely and expensive will it be to buy the inter-island flights just a few days before travel instead of booking them now?

    • karan – unfortunately, it’s impossible to know whether you’d be taking a risk by waiting.

      With the cost of fuel rising as much as it has recently, I would guess that the prices are more likely to go up rather than down.

      Another point to consider is that if you wait, you may not be able to get the preferred flight schedule that best fits your needs.

  31. Hi,

    I am visiting the Big Island in the first week of June and would like to plan a day trip to Maui. There are 5 people in my family and 5 people in my brothers family. Can you tell me what wold be the best or only way to travel that wont break the budget? Or should I just forget about the budget?

  32. Hi Sheila!

    I am considering moving to Hawaii, but I was thinking it would be a bit easier to get between islands(I will probably have to do some island hopping while searching for a stable job). How much does an inter-island flight cost and is it viable to live on 1 island and work on another?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jon –

      Use the links in this article to check the latest fares. Prices do vary over time.

      In my many travels to Hawaii, I’ve encountered several people who live on one island but work on another.

  33. When I spent 4 months in Maui, there were people working on different Islands than they lived but I only heard of it between Maui and Molaki (I believe that is Hawaii’s only ferry route).

  34. Actually they have one to Lanai also, but those are it for regular ferry runs…

  35. Hi there, I’m going to Oahu on a three week course and will have 4 days free to do as I please before returning to New Zealand. I was thinking of flying into Hilo and staying at Volcanoplaces for these 4 days flying back to Honolulu midday 23rd May and flying out back to New Zealand on the same evening at 11pm. Not knowing anything about Hawaiian airlines and weather Is it risky flying from Hilo to Honolulu the same day that my International flight leaves and is 4 days and nights to long to spend up at the volcanos? What would I need besides a passport to fly inter Island as a New Zealander? Any advice and guidance would be appreciated! Many thanks Sheila :)

    • Hi Wendy

      It’s not very risky at all flying from Hilo to Honolulu the same day. Hawaiian Airlines usually has the top on time record of any US airline, mostly because weather rarely delays flights in Hawaii.

      I don’t think 4 days is too long to spend on the Hilo side. I’ve probably spent a total of 7 nights in the village of Volcano over the years. I’d go back again to spend more time there. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has so much to see, do, hike. Plus there’s more sight seeing in the area. If you get bored, you can always do a scenic drive over to the Kohala Coast. Here are my Big Island sight seeing recommendations: http://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/10/25/best-big-island-budget-fun/

      As far as I know, your passport is all you’ll need to get through security for your interisland flight.

  36. Hi – I will be traveling LIH – OGG – KOA on HA with luggage that will need to be checked. Will I be able to check my bags through to KOA from LIH ? Or will I have to pick them up in OGG and re-checkin?

    Also on my way home I will be traveling OGG on HA (through HNL) back to DCA on Delta. Can I check my bags through to DCA in OGG ?

    Many thanks !

    • Jason – unless things have changed, you should be able to check your luggage all the way through. We flew two different inter-island carriers from Lanai to Hilo with a connection in Honolulu and were able to check our luggage all the way through.

  37. Hi nice article. I’m from go! airline and we jsut changed our name from “go!Mokulele” to “go! Hawaii’s Low Fare Airline” or “go! operated by Mesa Airlines” can you please update the article if possible?

  38. hi sheila

    i live in vancouver and planning a trip to hawai end of oct or end of nov, nothing finalized yet as i am sooo confused. which month is better to come? we are a family of 4 , 5 and 1 yr old , me and my husband. and we are looking for a weeks vaccation to hawai. kindly i need your advise on our vacation. we are even interested to travel to diff islands but do you think 1 week would be enough? we love nature, falls, scenic drives and at the same time have to think about children specially 1 yr old. can you help us plan our 7-8 day trip …where we should go what we should see…where to stay?which islands you think is worth visiting i am sure all of them are beutifull but with baby we will rent a car and fly internally to make our trip less hectic.
    any help would be appreciated, i dont know what all to ask you as i have so many questions but anything from you would be beneficial to us, regarding hotels, tourist spots, fares, flights, food places on different islands?
    please advise

    • anjali – In my opinion, you should only go to one island with just one week. Each island offers more than a week’s worth of great things to see and do — well beyond simply enjoying the beach.

      I recommend end of October over end of November. The reason being is that many Americans go to Hawaii to celebrate Thanksgiving, which is at the end of November. Rates and crowds are up around Thanksgiving time.

      Based on what you described, Kauai might be a good fit for you and your family. The scenery is amazing. There’s great waterfalls to see that are easily accessible. Lyngate, Poipu Beach Park, and Kalapaki beaches are all gentle beaches for kids. (Please note that ocean conditions can change at anytime, so please check conditions before going out.) The Kauai Marriott is on Kalapaki Beach, so you wouldn’t have to pile the kids in the car to go to the beach if you stayed there. (Here’s my review of the Kauai Marriott: http://www.govisithawaii.com/2009/01/02/review-of-kauai-marriott-resort-a-piece-of-paradise/)

      So, that should get you on your way of planning. Beyond that, you might want to consult with a travel agent.

  39. Hi Sheila,

    My wife Nicole and I are planning a vacation to Hawaii, we have booked our flights from London – San Francisco at the end of Nov this year and we plan on spending 2-3 days there before coming to Hawaii. We are both mid 20s and I have a prosthetic limb due to my time in the Army so my questions (if you can assist) are what is the best airline to fly from mainland US to Hawaii? What would you advise as the best way to spend 10-11 days, i think we would like to see more than one island, spending time at Pearl Harbour is a must for me though, and if possible what resorts/hotels would you recommend? We have spoken to travel agents back here in Scotland but if im honest i think their knowledge is limited. Hope to hear from you soon, Thanks Paul & Nicole

    • Hi Paul & Nicole

      From San Francisco, I would recommend you fly on Hawaiian Airlines. From SFO, they fly larger planes — usually 767′s rather than the 757s that many of the other major airlines provide from the Bay area. To find the cheapest rate, you have the option to fly out from either San Francisco airport or Oakland airport.

      Another plus with Hawaiian, is that they provide a free meal even in economy and the other major airlines don’t.

      You may want to try to book asap as “end of November” could coincide with Thanksgiving (last Thursday of November). Hawaii is a popular destination for Thanksgiving holiday.

      We highly recommend spending time at Pearl Harbor on Oahu. But, you don’t have to stay on Oahu in order to do that. Island hops to Oahu to see Pearl Harbor are easy. You could go independently as I describe here http://www.govisithawaii.com/2011/04/04/a-day-trip-island-hop-to-oahu/ or there are many tour companies that will arrange the whole day for you.

      With 10 or 11 days, I recommend you try to keep your stays to just one or two islands at most. There’s so much to do and see on each island. In order to choose where to go, check out the many good resources in this post: http://www.govisithawaii.com/2010/06/28/how-to-pick-the-best-hawaiian-islands-for-your-vacation/ Hope that helps.

  40. My husband and I are flying to Hawaii and staying in Oahu in Nov to visit my daughter and son-in-law who are in the military. We can only stay for a week due to me working in the school system. I would like to look into the one day tour to the big island from Oahu. Which tour company to you recommend? Also does the price includes flight and tour? Which airlines does it fly with I really like Hawaiian airlines?

    • Usually the packaged tours to go from one island to another does include the cost of the flights — at least that has been the case in all I’ve encountered. I have no idea who each company uses for flights. Most of the tour companies either have a toll-free number or live chat to ask them questions.

  41. Hi Sheila,
    We are a couple from Denmark (Europe) visiting Hawaii for 3 weeks from Dec. 19 – Jan. 10th.
    We plan to see different island, but can you recommend anything about which island we “must” visit, what to see and do, and how long time we should spend on each island?
    Kind regards,
    Marianne

  42. Hi sheila
    I may be moving to ohau in the near future and I plan on bringing my motorcycle with me. I was hoping I would be able to tour some of the other islands with it. Do the ferries accommodate vehicals or are they strictly for passangers?

    • Hi Gary – unfortunately, there are no passenger ferries from Oahu to any of the other Hawaiian islands.

      The Hawaii Super Ferry did provide service from Oahu to Maui and Oahu to Kauai a few years ago, but that ferry system was short lived due to public outrage. There is no statewide Hawaii ferry service. unfortunately.

      The only ferry service in Hawaii is very limited with ferries between Maui and Lanai and Maui and Molokai. I am not sure if they allow motorcycles. You’ll have to check directly with them. But, seeing that you can’t get a ferry from Oahu to Maui or any of the other islands, that’s probably a moot point.

  43. Thank you for the useful information. We are planning a trip to Oahu in January 2013. We found a condo in Hauula to rent for 5 days and plan to stay in Wikiki for 2 days. We want to snorkel, go to a luau, see pearl harbor, diamond head, visit beaches, try authentic food, coffee, etc. What are some luaus to visit? Beaches? Restaurants? We are renting an SUV so we don’t mind traveling around the island. We want to do as much as possible! Thanks again!

  44. We need a web page like yours. Thank you.

    We have a resort to stay at in Maui Sept.6 to 13 2013. We plan to make reservations to camp at Papohaku beach park. We would like to camp Sept 2(labor day)3,4,5.
    Can we ferry the car from Molokai to Maui? If not is there car rentals at the ferry stops?

    The steps:

    We have to take a one way airfare from St Louis to Molokai, rent a car. Then ferry to Maui. Rent a car to get our resort. To go home we would purchase a one way ticket to get back to St Louis.

    I am hoping that the ferry has a daily schedule to Maui. Have you any other suggestions that may help us?

    P.S. We know that every island has it’s own personality. Camping first would help us to slow down and rest. It would help us get the pulse of the islands.

    • Marie — unfortunately, the Molokai/Maui ferry does not take cars.

      A few years ago we were able to rent a car from Avis in Lahaina(where the ferry comes in to Maui). A van came to the harbor to pick us up and take us to the car rental office in Lahaina. I just did a quick check and I didn’t see that office, though there is one just about 10 minutes north in Kaanapali.

      I recommend you use a search engine map, like maps.google.com and search for “car rental Lahaina” and go from there. Some may have van service to the harbor, I don’t know for sure as things are always changing. Worst case is that you’ll have to get a cab for a 10 minute drive to one of the closer offices.

      As for any other suggestion, I highly recommend you make your ferry journey from Molokai to Maui in the morning as the sea is much, much more smooth.

      Also, for your return home, it would be best if you flew from Maui to St Louis, leaving Molokai out of the equation.

  45. I’m staying on Maui and taking a hop to the big island one dya. what to see pearl harbor and sea life as i have ones that what to swim with the dolphins. can i do this all in one day ? and how?

  46. My husband is military, and we have three young children. We would really like to leave Oahu and visit Maui or Kauai sometime though. I heard the humpback whales are migrating near Maui right now!! I have also been wanting to do a dinner cruise.

    I guess my question for you is what would be the most affordable way for us to have a weekend trip or just a few days away from Oahu? The kids are six, two, and one and a half.

  47. Sheila,
    my husband and I are planning a very short trip to hawaii. he won a paid trip for 4 days/3nights. Can you tell me what is the best romantic hotel and on which island its on? also what are the absolutly must to do’s? is mid March an ok time to visit?
    Any input will be greatly appreciated! thank you!

  48. Hi Sheila,
    My husband and I will be in Hilo from April 30 to May 9 2013.
    I am so pleased about Lei Day (my birthday, would you believe it?)
    This trip is for our 50th anniversary and we chose the Big Island because it is less commercial and offers us so many different areas within a relatively small land mass.
    However, we would like to do a one day tour of Honolulu and we want to fly out of Hilo (not Kona). Do you know a tour company that offers a round trip flight, visit to Pearl Harbour, a couple other sites, and would return us that night to Hilo Airport. Our hope is to see lava flow from the air. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks Judy K

  49. Dear Judy – thanks for your info – I read several posts, but still need your advice. I want to fly into Kona, run a race, spend the night and then travel onto Maui for a 2 week vacation with husband, sister and brother in law.

    I ‘m trying to decide if it’s too much (expensive, time) to have everyone join me in Kona, and thinking maybe I just go to Kona and meet up with them in Maui.

    Any suggestions on flying into Kona, getting transportation (renting a car), getting hotel and back to airport to fly to Maui?
    Any help is sincerely appreciated.

  50. I’ll be traveling with my family to Princeville in Kauai in August for 10 days and was wondering if it was possible to take a quick excursion over to Lanai by boat. Are there boat excursions that run between Kauai and Lanai? How would I go about finding out about something like this?

    • No – there isn’t ferry service from Kauai to Lanai. The only ferry service to Lanai is from Maui.

      You could fly to Lanai from Kauai, but you would have to connect in either Honolulu or Maui. Since there are no direct flights from Kauai to Lanai, the travel time to and from Lanai will probably be surprisingly more than you expect.

  51. Hi, I’m planning to fly Hawaiian Airlines (with bags to check) ITO-LIH with 30 min connection in HNL, do you think it is enough time?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Carlo – that could be tight, but I think it’s doable. Normally the airlines won’t book the flights that close together unless they think it’s feasible.

      We didn’t have checked bags, but once we made a 30-minute connection in HNL — essentially going from one end of the airport all the way to the Commuter Terminal. We even had to go to the ticket counter and go through TSA, but we made it. Of course, we walked as briskly as we could.

      If your bags miss the connection, there’s usually an inter-island flight arriving the next hour that your bags will be on.

      If you are concerned, I recommend you contact Hawaiian Airlines directly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please do not use keywords in your name. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Scroll To Top