Flying to Hawaii, A Guide
Imagine your next Hawaii vacation | Photo by Luke Mckeown
Vacations shouldn’t be stressful so having to fly to them seems unfair, but thus is life. Fortunately, Shaka Guide is here to balance the scales and help you plan your flights to Hawaii around being the least stressful experience possible. Whether you’re looking to get here as quickly as possible or save a few bucks, we’ve got everything you need to know in one handy guide!
And if you’re looking for help managing your stay on the islands, Shaka Guide also offers several awesome driving tours throughout each of the Islands. Or, you can check out our blog for more guides and tips from locals!
Flying to Hawaii from the Mainland
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!
When are you flying in to Hawaii? | Photo by Gary Lopater
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.
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 studies and data, ticket prices fall until one to two months before your flight and then shoot up quickly and become their most expensive right before the departure. This creates a sweet spot for buying tickets at a good price between 30 and 50 days before you fly. If you’re looking to save money, this is the optimal time to book.
The big blue sea and its marine life | Photo by MItch Myers
Know the Best Times to Fly
Shoulder seasons can save you a ton on airfare. A shoulder season comes directly before or after a peak tourism season when most individuals aren’t able to leave 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 if you’re able 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
Each of the four popular islands of Hawaii have multiple airports, 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
See the world atop one of the best spots in Oahu | Photo by Peter Vanosdall
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 almost certainly fly into the Lihue Airport on East Kauai. 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.
Wake up to a beautiful sunrise by the beach | Photo by Sean O.
Hawaii Inter-Island Flights
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 spend a day of your vacation, you’ll find that inter-island flights are often quite affordable.
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, while South West is generally a little bit cheaper. 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.
Occasionally, around the Holiday, another airline called Mokulele Airlines puts tickets on sale for extremely cheap, often under $40 one way. You’ll have to watch out for this deal, however, because it doesn’t happen all year or even every year. However, Mokulele can also be pretty affordable year-round without the deal if you check back often. For instance, you can currently get a round trip ticket for late November from Honolulu to Kahului, Maui for about $90. Prices are usually quite a bit higher, however.
Take a hike and hunt waterfalls in Hawaii | Photo by Kalen Emsley
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.
Can't wait to see you in Hawaii | Photo by Remi Yuan