Comprehensive information on traveling between the Hawaiian islands

2023-01-05 06:13:08 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

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Some of the major Hawaiian Islands (like Lanai and Maui) are only eight miles apart, making this Pacific archipelago an alluring island-hopping destination. And it's not hard to visit several Hawaiian islands in a short amount of time, provided you plan ahead. If you want to get the most out of your time in Hawaii, you shouldn't hop from island to island too quickly; instead, you should take your time exploring each one.

Getting from one Hawaiian island to another is a breeze, whether you choose to take a helicopter, ferry, or boat. While you may have some leeway in how you get to your next Hawaiian island destination, chances are you'll be taking a plane.

Getting around the islands that make up the Aloha State can be a bit of a hassle, so we've laid out all your options to help you plan a vacation that goes off without a hitch.

Waimea Canyon on Kauai is often called "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific." This image was taken by Don Smith/Getty Images. )

To put it simply, Oahu is the center of the Hawaiian Islands.

The island of Oahu serves as the primary transportation center for people traveling between the Hawaiian islands. This is where the vast majority of domestic flights and international flights to Hawaii will land. S Transportation on the Continent is Available Almost all of the major neighboring islands are accessible via flights departing from Honolulu International Airport (HNL). Booking your main flights into and out of HNL is still a safe bet, even if you aren't sure which islands you might want to hop to during your Hawaiian vacation. However, don't let your guard down and waste your entire trip in Waikiki; the rest of Hawaii is much more rewarding.

Airport of Honolulu Getty Images photo) )

A nonstop flight from HNL to the other major Hawaiian island should take no more than 30 to 45 minutes. As long as you have your main flights into and out of Honolulu secured, the rest of the arrangements can be ironed out later.

Traveling to Hawaii on frequent flyer miles: the most cost-effective options

Circumnavigating the Islands by Air

Hawaiian Airlines has long been the most popular choice for inter-island travel, and this popularity persists today, with multiple daily flights. However, Southwest Airlines has emerged as a serious rival in the Hawaiian market, which is excellent news for vacationers trying to find the lowest fares to Oahu, Maui, or Kauai.

It is possible to fly to Hawaii with Southwest. (Image: Summer Hull/The Points Guy) )

HNL is the hub from which Southwest provides service to Kauai (LIH), Maui (OGG), Hilo (ITO), and Kona (KOA). Nonetheless, keep in mind that you'll be transiting through Honolulu on those flights; if you'd prefer a nonstop flight from Kona to Kauai, Hawaiian Airlines is probably your best bet.

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Mokulele Airlines offers 120 flights per day to destinations like Lanai and Hana that aren't served by other airlines.

Makani Kai Air is another choice; they are a charter service with a small fleet of planes that will transport passengers to destinations such as Princeville on Kauai, Molokai, and the Kalaupapa Peninsula (a national historic park that requires a permit to enter).

You can take a turboprop flight with Lanai Air from Honolulu to the tiny island of Lanai, where luxury hotels like the Four Seasons can be found.

You Can Reach Lanai by Ferry.

I'd rather be out at sea than at the airport. Expeditions Lanai Passenger Ferry provides service between Maui and Lanai. The trip takes an hour, costs about $30 one way (children under 12 are $20), and there are only five daily departures and returns.

(Image by Isabel Thottam.) )

Travel by airplane to Molokai

It is not possible to travel from the United States directly to the island of Molokai. S mainland It is necessary to take a connecting flight from either HNL, OGG, or JHM to reach this island. Hawaiian Airlines, Makani Kai Air, and Mokulele Airlines all offer direct flights to Molokai from these airports; the flight time is just 25 minutes.

Plan an inter-island cruise.

If you have the time and money, a cruise around Hawaii is the best way to spend your vacation. Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line both provide numerous cruise itineraries that visit all four major islands, with some even including overnights on select islands. Travel between the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island is limited only to boarding and leaving the ship. We think it's fantastic that Norwegian makes it possible to combine a cruise of Hawaii with a visit to French Polynesia.

Disney's Hawaii cruises are longer than most, lasting ten nights and departing or returning to Vancouver after visiting several different islands in the Hawaiian archipelago.

How we redeemed frequent flyer miles and points to take our family to Hawaii is a related topic.

Caption: (Isabel Thottam)

Air transport to outlying regions

Only by helicopter can you be dropped into a truly remote area of Hawaii. If you're looking to get away from the crowds on your next hiking or travel adventure, Blue Hawaiian is a charter service that can get you to those remote trailheads and undiscovered gems.

Niihau, also known as the "Forbidden Island" due to its untouched condition, is only accessible via helicopter tour unless you know the owners personally. This sparsely populated, 70-square-mile island is visible from Kauai's Waimea Canyon. Guests can expect to pay no less than $465 per person for a half-day trip to Niihau.

You can't just take a helicopter tour, pack up your things, and move to a new island; instead, you have to follow the pilot back to the island you started on.

Travel within Hawaii using airline miles.

You can use miles from a number of different airlines to hop from island to island in Hawaii, but you'll ultimately end up back on Hawaiian Airlines. However, the number of miles required for inter-island flights on Hawaiian varies by airline, so it's best to compare prices before booking. And if you're taking a Southwest flight between islands, you'll have even more options. The following is a list of some common choices, with one-way costs indicated unless otherwise specified.

Airport in Kona, Hawaii (Image: Summer Hull/The Points Guy )

(Here's how Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines compare for island hopping. )

You'll need 7,500 American miles for an economy flight and 15,000 for first class on Hawaiian.

7,500 miles in Delta's economy class will get you a flight to Hawaii.

Economy Class on Hawaiian Airlines: 7,500 Miles; First Class: 15,000 Miles

Hawaiian Airlines redemption rates for JetBlue miles are 6,000 miles in economy and 12,000 miles in first.

To redeem for JetBlue flights, cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. Citi ThankYou points transfer to JetBlue at a rate of 1 for 1. 10% of points redeemed are returned to JetBlue Plus Cardholders.

JetBlue awards on Hawaiian Airlines can only be booked via phone with JetBlue, but in our test call, availability was very similar to what United showed online.

U.S. Airways: 7,000 miles in economy; 10 for a flight to Hawaii using United Airlines miles 5,000 miles (30,000 if departure is within 30 days)

The cost of a flight from the United Kingdom to Hawaii using Virgin Atlantic miles is 7,500 miles in economy and 15,000 miles in first class (2,000 miles in economy and 10,000 miles in first class for infants).

Getting Virgin Atlantic miles is convenient because you can convert points from a variety of credit card loyalty programs, including Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Rewards. Award rates may be discounted even further if you transfer during Amex's and Citi's occasional transfer bonuses.

Southwest Airlines: At the moment, many flights between islands can be purchased for between 2,000 and 4,000 Rapid Rewards points one way on Southwest. Cards issued by Southwest, such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, allow cardholders to accrue Rapid Rewards points through purchases. Chase Ultimate Rewards points and points earned from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can be transferred in at a 1:1 ratio. On Southwest, you can bring two bags with you at no additional cost, and there are no fees for watching movies or TV shows on board the plane using your own device. If you have a Southwest Companion Pass, you can use it to save money on your flight.

U.S. Excursionist Perk: Island Hopping at No Cost

When you book your trip to Hawaii using United miles, you can include a stopover on one of the islands "for free." The mileage cost for a round trip from Houston to Honolulu and back (45,000 in saver economy) is the same as for a trip from Houston to Lihue and back. United's Excursionist Perk allows for a free stopover in Hawaii on round-trip tickets because the Aloha State is located in a different award chart region than the Lower 48.

We've compiled a list of the top United MileagePlus credit cards. To choose your seat on Hawaiian Airlines after booking your United flight to the islands, you'll need the confirmation code United gives you.

At the end of the day

Although there are exceptions, getting from one Hawaiian island to another will probably entail taking a commercial airliner. If the cash cost of an inter-island flight in Hawaii is low enough, you may not need to use airline miles for the trip. Make sure you're getting a good return on your points by doing the math. When prices exceed $100, however, or if you're flying Southwest (fixed-value points), using miles becomes a worthwhile option.

A Southwest Airlines island-hopping adventure awaits Summer Hull/The Points Guy )

As you embark on your trip to Hawaii, consider the following:

To which Isabel Thottam has contributed additional reporting.

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