Orange colored sky with a silhouette of an airplane flying above with palm trees

Airports in the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii is one of the most isolated island chains in the world, separated from the U.S. mainland by almost 2,400 miles of open ocean. Unless you’ve got the seafaring skills to sail the Pacific Ocean plan on getting to the islands by air. The airports of Hawaii range in size from Molokai’s small interstate airport to the international hub that is Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Fortunately, there is an airport on each of the five main Hawaiian islands, so getting here--and doing some island-hopping once you’re here--is easy.

  1. Hawaiian Airlines wing flying over Honolulu
    Oahu: the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)

    Formerly known as the Honolulu International Airport, the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the United States, and the largest commercial airport in the state. Named after long-time U.S. Senator and Medal of Honor Recipient Daniel K. Inouye, the airport sees over 21 million passengers a year.

    The Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is the main hub for interisland flights, as well as direct flights to multiple mainland destinations, including Anchorage, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Jose, Seattle, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago and New York.

    Internationally, the airport serves passengers traveling to Australia, Canada, Manila, Seoul, New Zealand, China, Japan and more. Expect the airport to be busy at most times of the day, so plan ahead to add some extra time for checking in and finding your gate.

    Top Things to Do on Oahu in 2023

  2. Hilo International Airport runway
    The Big Island

    The Big Island of Hawaii (officially named Hawaii) is served by two airports: Hilo International Airport (ITO) and Kona International Airport (KOA).

    The Hilo airport serves the east side of the Big Island. Most of the flights are interisland hops between the Big Island and Oahu, with some direct flights to Los Angeles.

    Kona International airport serves the west side of the island, including the famous Kona coast and offers flights to the mainland U.S., Canada and Japan as well as interisland flights.

    Top Things to do on Big Island Hawaii in 2023

  3. Kahului Airport Maui
    Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG)

    If you’re flying into Maui’s Kahului Airport and lucky enough to have a window seat, watch for Haleakala Crater--the 10,023-foot dormant volcano that dominates the Maui landscape.

    Most flights into Kahului Airport are interstate island hops. The Kahului/Honolulu route is the thirteenth busiest air route in the United States, transporting over 1.6 million passengers a year. In addition to interstate flights, Kahului sees direct flights to the U.S. mainland and Canada.

    Top Things to do on Maui in 2023

  4. Lihue Aiport, Kauai
    Lihue Airport, Kauai

    Lihue Airport (LIH) is located in Lihue, the county seat of the island of Kauai. A small but bustling airport, Lihue provinces interisland and mainland flights, as well as flights to Vancouver, Canada. Factor in some extra time when flying out of Lihue for traffic delays, especially if you’re driving from Kapaa.

    Top Things to do on Kauai in 2023

  5. Airplane flying over with palm trees
    Molokai and Lanai

    Molokai and Lanai are two of the least developed islands in Hawaii, making them perfect for visitors who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, yet easily accessible when traveling by air. Both islands have small airports which provide air travel to and from Honolulu: Molokai Airport (MKK) and Lanai Airport (LNY).


How Long Do Flights to Hawaii Take?

If you're flying from the west coast of the continental United States, a flight to Hawaii takes about six hours. Direct flights from Chicago may take a little over nine hours, while a flight from Washington, DC or New York takes ten to eleven hours. So, be sure to pack a good book!

What Can I Bring Home from Hawaii?kailua-circles-farmers-market-360x360.jpg

You’ll find so many souvenirs to bring home from Paradise, and most of them can be taken back to the mainland with no problems. Fruit, flowers, and other types of plant life must be approved by Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture to ensure you’re not accidentally going home with organic items that could affect mainland crops or invasive pests. Items approved by the department include:

  • Whole pineapples
  • Coconuts
  • Local fruit treated at USDA-approved facilities and properly sealed (lychee, papaya, etc.)
  • Flower leis that do not contain parts of citrus plants, gardenias, jade vines, or Mauna Loa
  • Dried seeds and decorative arrangements
  • Beach sand and seashells (not land snail shells)
  • Rocks and stones
  • Wood, including driftwood
  • Seed lei and seed jewelry

When heading home, be at the airport two hours before domestic flights depart. If you're traveling internationally, you'll need to arrive three hours before departure.

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