Hawaii is a paradise for travelers who want to experience diverse landscapes, beautiful beaches, and unique cultural experiences.
With a desire to explore multiple islands, it’s essential to know the best ways to travel between them.
This article will guide you through the various inter-island travel options and provide tips for planning your Hawaiian vacation.
Inter-Island Travel Options
There are several ways to travel between the Hawaiian islands, depending on your budget, preferences, and time constraints. Here’s a quick overview of the main travel options:
- Flights: Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines provide the majority of inter-island flights, with other airlines offering select routes.
- Ferries: The Expeditions Lanai Passenger Ferry offers service between Maui and Lanai, but options for other islands are limited.
- Helicopter tours: For a more adventurous experience, helicopter tours can provide access to remote areas.
- Cruises: Explore multiple islands without worrying about transportation by taking a cruise.
Primary carriers: Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines are the primary carriers for inter-island flights. They offer a range of routes and flight times, making it easy to find a convenient option for your trip.
Other airlines offering inter-island routes
In addition to the primary carriers, other airlines such as American, Delta, JetBlue, United, and Virgin Atlantic offer opportunities to use airline miles for inter-island travel. United’s Excursionist Perk even allows for free island-hopping on a round-trip booked with United miles.
Flight times and costs
Inter-island flights in Hawaii are typically short, with most flights lasting around an hour. One-way ticket prices can be as low as $69 if booked in advance. The four main airlines offering interisland flights are Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Makani Kai Air.
Choosing an Airline
When planning your inter-island flights, it’s essential to consider the airlines available and their offerings. Here’s an overview of the main airlines for inter-island travel in Hawaii:
As Hawaii’s largest and longest-serving airline, Hawaiian Airlines offers a comprehensive range of nonstop routes between the islands, making it a popular choice for inter-island travel.
Mokulele Airlines operates over 120 daily flights between most Hawaiian islands, offering a reliable and flexible service for travelers who want to explore more remote destinations.
Southwest Airlines is known for its low-fare interisland routes, providing affordable options for travel from the Big Island to Honolulu and Kahului, among others.
To get the most out of your inter-island flights, consider the following booking tips:
- Direct flights: Choose direct flights whenever possible for convenience and shorter travel times.
- Flight times: Select flight times that align with your schedule and preferences.
- Airport selection: On the Big Island, consider choosing different airports for arrival and departure to save travel time.
- Seat selection for scenic views: Pick seats that offer the best views of the islands during your flights.
Island Hopping in Hawaii
Island hopping in Hawaii is a popular way to explore multiple islands and enjoy diverse landscapes and experiences. With established travel routes and regular flights between the main islands, island hopping is straightforward and accessible.
Benefits and challenges of island hopping
Island hopping allows you to experience more of Hawaii’s unique offerings, but it’s essential to plan wisely to make the most of your time. Consider the additional travel time, airport delays, and the distance between the airport and your desired destinations when planning your trip.
Recommended duration for each island
Spending at least 5 days on each island is generally recommended to fully explore and appreciate the different experiences each location offers.
Planning your itinerary
When planning your island hopping itinerary, consider the primary islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, and the Big Island. Traveling between these islands is quick, with flight times ranging from 20 minutes to an hour. If you have a longer vacation, you can justify the additional travel time and include more island hopping in your plans.
Flying Between Hawaiian Islands
Flight as the primary mode of transportation
Flight is the main mode of transportation between the islands, with short flight times of usually less than an hour. Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines offer the most interisland flights, making it convenient for travelers to plan their trips.
Comparing airlines and their offerings
When choosing an airline for your inter-island travel, compare the various options available:
- Hawaiian Airlines has the most routes and flexibility.
- Mokulele Airlines is the main option for flying to Lanai, Molokai, and Hana Airport in east Maui.
- Southwest Airlines offers low-fare interisland routes for budget-conscious travelers.
Tips for finding affordable flights
To find the best deals on inter-island flights, consider the following tips:
- Early morning and late flights tend to be cheaper.
- Weekdays are usually more affordable than weekends.
- Seat selection can provide scenic views of the islands during your flights.
Visiting Specific Islands
Ni’ihau: helicopter tours and snorkeling trips
Ni’ihau is a unique Hawaiian island known for its rare shells and glass balls that wash ashore. Ni’ihau Helicopters Inc offers scenic flights and half-day tours to Ni’ihau, providing the first-and-only way for tourists to step foot on the forbidden island. Snorkel tours from Kauai allow visitors to see Ni’ihau from the boat and snorkel in the waters just off-shore, but landing on the island is not allowed.
Molokai: Mokulele Airlines and no ferry available
There is no longer a ferry to Molokai from Maui, and the only way to get to Molokai is by flying with Mokulele Airlines.
Lanai: Expeditions ferry service and Mokulele Airlines
Lanai is the only Hawaiian island accessible by ferry, with Expeditions ferry services operating between Lanai and Lahaina in West Maui. The cheapest and most fun way to visit Molokai and Lanai is to take the ferry from Lahaina to Lanai and then catch a small-plane flight with Mokulele Airlines from Lanai to Molokai.
For more guidance on planning your Hawaiian vacation, consider the following resources:
- Complete itineraries, including where to stay and what to do, for each major Hawaiian island, as well as island hopping itineraries for longer visits. You can find them on
- Additional Hawaii travel guides, including packing lists, photography guides, itineraries, and specific guides for Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai.
With this information, you can confidently plan and book your flights between the Hawaiian islands, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable vacation experience.