Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

Flying to Hawaii, A Guide

Spencer Lowe

Vacations shouldn’t be stressful so having to fly to them seems unfair, but thus is life. Fortunately, we've created this guide to balance the scales and help you plan your flights to Hawaii. Whether you’re looking to get here as quickly as possible or save a few bucks, here's everything you need to know in one handy guide!

Flying to Hawaii from the Continental U.S. (Mainland)

Flying to Hawaii Travel Shaka GuidePhoto by Gary Lopater on Unsplash

Depending on what makes flying difficult for you, if anything, you have a few options. If you’re looking to get to Hawaii as quickly as possible, you’ll want to book a direct flight. On the other hand, if spending money is stressing you out, you’re might want to stop for a layover or two. There are also certain times of the year that flying to Hawaii is both less expensive and less crowded. All that info and more coming right up!

Direct Flights to Hawaii

If the act of flying is more stressful than the money you’ll spend, your best bet is to fly direct without any layovers. This will, of course, minimize your time in crowded airports and get you to your destination quickly. If you’re looking to fly direct, you’ll have fewer options for flights since most flights route through Honolulu. 

You can find direct flights from mainland cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Pheonix, Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Austin, Orlando, New York and Boston, just to name a few. Most major west coast cities have direct flights to Hawaii. 

Cheap Trips to Hawaii: How to Find Deals

You have a few options for minimizing airfare costs for your visit to Hawaii, some of which might seem counter-intuitive. For instance, you might think that booking cheap means booking as soon as possible, which makes sense: the closer you get to your trip, the less available tickets there will be, which should drive prices up. However, in reality, there’s a sweet spot for booking. Read up on this section if you’re looking to save money on flights!

Know Best Times to Book

If you’ve ever tried to find a cheap airline ticket, you probably spent some time watching ticket prices change over time. Many people would assume that the closer you get to the date of your flight, the most expensive the ticket will be. However, ticket prices actually steadily decrease at first before jumping to their highest prices. 

Plane tickets usually go on sale several months in advance of their departure. However, it isn’t a good idea to buy them as soon as they are available since, for the first few months, ticket prices are actually higher than they will be later. According to recent survey, the best time to buy a plane ticket is between 69 and 99 days before departure, depending on when you're traveling. 

Know the Best Times to Fly

Shoulder season and low season travel can save you a ton on airfare. A shoulder season comes directly before or after a peak tourism season when most people aren’t able to travel or are just arriving home from Hawaii. For instance, if you’re looking to save, the second half of January is a great time to plan a trip to Hawaii since fewer people will be traveling making ticket prices more affordable. There is also a super affordable shoulder season from September to November when ticket prices are extremely low. Late November through January are high-traffic dates for Hawaii, so planning a vacation before this time when prices spike can save you a ton on ticketing and airfare. 

Know Your Airports

Hawaii has multiple airports on the different islands, but all airports are not priced equally. It’s important to know which airports are going to save you money if you’re looking to keep your vacation affordable. Certain Airports are also easier to find direct flights to if you’re coming from the mainland 

Flights to Oahu

Oahu is the most populated island of Hawaii, but it only has one major airport. The Honolulu Airport is the most affordable to fly into in all of Hawaii. If you’re looking to save money, planning your Hawaiian vacation to Oahu is probably your best bet. Even if you’re not staying on Oahu, many of the most affordable flights route are through this international hub. 

Flights to Big Island

Big Island has two major airports that you may fly into. If you’re looking to fly direct or with as few layovers as possible, Kona Airport has more available options. However, if you’re looking to save money, it is often best to stop for a layover in Honolulu and then fly to the Hilo Airport. The Big Island is generally the second most affordable to fly into.

Flights to Maui

Maui has two airports as well, however, one of them is better for both direct flights and affordable flights. Kahului Airport is the island’s main airport which generally has better flight options. You can also fly into the West Maui airport, however, tickets are usually a few hundred dollars more expensive and direct flights are less available. 

Flights to Kauai

If you’re flying to Kauai, you’ll fly into the Lihue Airport. Tickets prices to Kauai can vary a lot, so be sure to keep an eye out for the prime booking window. Flights to Kauai almost always route through Honolulu, but there are some more expensive flights directly to the island.

RELATED: Hawaii Airports Guide

Hawaii Inter-Island Flights

Flying to Hawaii Shaka GuidePhoto by Jelle de Gier on Unsplash

Island hopping is a great way to get to know more of Hawaii. Whether you live in Hawaii and want a quick getaway or you’re looking to visit multiple islands on your vacation, you’ll find that inter-island flights are often quite affordable. 

Inter-Island Airlines

Two of the best airlines for inter-island flights are Hawaiian Airlines and South West Airlines. Both offer routine inter-island flights at affordable prices. Hawaiian is usually a bit more of an experience than South West, so if affordability matters, go with South West. Alternatively, Hawaiian Airlines offers more flights throughout the day, so if you're looking for convenience, Hawaiian is your best bet. 

There are also a few programs from airlines that offer extremely good deals–more on that in the next section.

Cheap Inter-Island Flights

South West Airlines offers a program called Wanna Get Away. These flights cannot be refunded once they are booked and cannot be changed or adjusted as easily. However, a one-way inter-island ticket through this program can cost under $50. 

There is another airline that offers afforable inter-island flights and that's Mokulele Airlines. You can check them out here


Is there a Hawaii Ferry?

Unfortunately, the Hawaii ferry has not been operational for most trips since the early 2000s. You are still able to take a ferry from Maui to Lanai, however. 

How Much Do Tickets Cost?

Ticket costs depend a lot on where you are flying from, of course. Flying from the West Coast of the mainland can be done for under $400, whereas flying from the East Coast will usually cost almost twice as much or more depending on when you book and when you are visiting. However, if you’re flying during the low season, you can find round-trip flights from NY to Honolulu for just over $600. Flights from middle America fall in between: a flight for the end of January would cost somewhere between $500 and $700 depending on the destination.

Inter-island flights can cost anywhere from $70 round trip to $200 round trip depending on when you book, which airline and where you're going. 

Parting Thoughts...

Flying definitely isn't the best part of any vacation, but knowing your options helps make planning that much easier. And remember, it will all be worth it when you're laying on the beach in Hawaii!

When you’re in Hawaii, we ask that you act respectfully towards the locals, land and wildlife. Please pick up your trash; never touch any marine life, plants, or other animals; and avoid spots that are unsafe. Hawaii’s natural resources are precious, it’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources.

Shaka Guide has over 20 tours in Hawaii! Each gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace with turn-by-turn directions, stories and music along the way. Learn more about our tours here




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