Interested in traveling between islands in Hawaii during your upcoming trip? We’ll show you 3 ways you can do it for as little as $30 and island-hopping tips you need to know.
Spanning over 1,500 miles from the Big Island of Hawaii to the tiny Kure Atoll, Hawaii is the longest island chain in the world. It makes sense, then, that island-hopping during your visit is the best way to see more of this stunning tropical destination.
Why limit your trip to just one island when Hawaii has so much to offer? We’ll show you the best ways to travel between the the best islands of Hawaii, including Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, Lanai, and Molokai.
From inter-island flights to ferry rides and luxurious cruises, you’ve got options for island-hopping in a way that suits your budget and enhances your Hawaiian experience.
Let’s take a look at how you can island-hop around Hawaii next!
A Guide to Traveling Between Islands in Hawaii
Island-hopping allows you to cover more ground and see more of Hawaii on your trip. In general, you have 3 options for traveling between islands in Hawaii: flights, ferries, or cruises.
Deciding which travel mode is right for your trip is easier when you know what to expect from the different types of inter-island transportation. Let’s take a look at the 3 ways you can travel between the Hawaiian islands!
1. Inter-Island Flights
For most people, inter-island flights are the best option for traveling between island in Hawaii. Flying between the islands is fast, easy, and convenient with plenty of flights operating daily.
Right now, 3 airlines offer daily inter-island flights between the Hawaiian islands:
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Mokulele Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines is the most popular choice for passengers who want to island-hop around Hawaii, with Southwest Airlines in a close second. Mokulele is a smaller, family-owned airport that offers a good selection of inter-island flight routes as well.
The biggest and longest-running airline in Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines is always a good choice for flying between the islands. With 170+ daily flights on average, you won’t have trouble securing a flight with Hawaiian.
Hawaiian Airlines offers Oahu flights to Maui, Kauai, and the Island of Hawaii; Maui flights to Oahu, Kauai, and the Island of Hawaii; and Kauai flights to Oahu, Maui, and the Island of Hawaii.
As the largest commuter airline in Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines is a popular choice for inter-island flights with plenty of daily routes to choose from.
Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t charge fees to change tickets for any of their inter-island routes, so it’s a good choice if you haven’t quite nailed down your itinerary or want to keep things open-ended.
Southwest Airlines is a trusted airline offering flights between 4 Hawaiian islands: Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Island of Hawaii. The routes offered are a bit more limited than Hawaiian Airlines.
Southwest offers nonstop flights between Kauai and Oahu, Oahu and Maui, Oahu and the Island of Hawaii, and between Maui and the Island of Hawaii.
All Southwest Airlines inter-island flights are nonstop, which is a big time-saver and convenient choice for travelers who are island-hopping.
Benefits of flying between the Hawaiian islands with Southwest are 2 free checked bags, no fees for flight changes or cancelations, and the ability to carry a surfboard on your flight for free.
Mokulele Airlines serves every airport on the Big Island and operates 120+ daily flights on average. They run routes to Oahu, Maui, Moloka’i, the Island of Hawaii, and Lanai (not offered by other airlines).
Mokulele Airlines offers nonstop flights between Oahu and Lanai and flights with stops between Oahu and Moloka’i and Maui, as well as flights between Maui and the Island of Hawaii.
Flying with Mokulele Airlines means you can bring one carry-on bag and a personal item with no additional fees. Keep in mind that a 15-pound weight limit applies to each item.
Mokulele Airlines doesn’t serve the Hilo airport on the Island of Hawaii, while Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines do. Instead, they run through Kona and the Waimea-Kohala Airport on the Big Island.
2. Inter-Island Ferries
Taking a ferry between islands is another way to island-hop around Hawaii. Currently, only one passenger ferry runs between Hawaiian islands and operates between Maui and Lanai.
The Expeditions Maui-Lanai Passenger Ferry travels through the ʻAuʻau Channel between Ma’alaea Harbor, Maui and Manele Harbor, Lanai. The ferry ride is scenic and takes about 50 minutes.
On the ferry, you can choose between upper deck outdoor seating (great for views and whale watching) or lower deck indoor seating. The ferry runs 5 days a week, 1-2 times a day.
The one-way cost is $30 per adult ($25 for Hawaii residents), $20 per child ($10 for Hawaii residents), $10 for Hawaii resident seniors, $25 for military service members, and free for infants.
Departure times from Maui are 6:45 AM, 9:45 AM, 1:00 PM, and 4:00 PM. Departures from Lanai are 8:15 AM, 11:15 AM, 2:30 PM, and 5:30 PM.
Update: In response to the devastating Lahaina fires, the ferry route has been temporarily shifted as follows:
- Monday: Depart at 10:00 AM; Return at 12:00 PM
- Tuesday: Depart at 6:30 AM/3:30 PM; Return at 8:30 AM/5:30 PM
- Thursday: Depart at 6:30 AM/3:30 PM; Return at 8:30 AM/5:30 PM
- Friday: Depart at 10:00 AM; Return at 12:00 PM
- Saturday: Depart at 6:30 AM/3:30 PM; Return at 8:30 AM/5:30 PM
3. Hawaiian Cruises
Hawaiian cruises are the final mode for traveling between Hawaiian islands. Taking a cruise with stops at ports on different Hawaiian islands is a great way to see more of Hawaii without the hassle of airports.
Several cruise lines offer Hawaiian island stops, like Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, and Viking.
Choosing the best Hawaiian cruise line starts with considering the islands you want to visit, your preferred departure port, and how long you want to spend at sea.
The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America cruise ship is the only one that exclusively sails between Hawaiian islands. You’ll depart from Oahu and stop in Maui (2 days), the Island of Hawaii (2 days), and Kauai (1.5 days) before returning to Oahu.
Royal Caribbean offers 8 to 10-night cruises that depart from the US West Coast and stop at Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Island of Hawaii.
Holland America offers 10-night cruises from San Diego or Vancouver to Mexico, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Island of Hawaii.
Princess Cruises sail from Vancouver, San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Island of Hawaii with longer cruises from 7-23 nights.
Viking Cruises offers a 17-night cruise from Los Angeles to the the Island of Hawaii and Kauai. This cruise includes 10 days at sea, which is something to consider.
How Long Does Traveling Between Islands in Hawaii Take?
Hawaiian Airlines advises that traveling between islands in Hawaii never takes more than 1 hour. In many cases, you can arrive to another island airport within 20-30 minutes.
Inter-island flights can take anywhere from a quick 20-minute flight to nearly an hour. It all depends on the island you’re departing from and where you’re headed.
The shortest flight between Hawaiian islands is between Honolulu, Oahu and Lihue, Kauai – it takes about 20 minutes. The next quickest flight is between Kahului, Maui and Ho’olehua, Moloka’i, which takes around 30 minutes.
Getting from Honolulu, Oahu to the Island of Hawaii (Kona or Hilo) takes 50-55 minutes. If you fly from Maui to the Island of Hawaii, it’s about a 40 minute flight.
Don’t forget about the time it takes to make your way through the airport and get through security, which can take another hour or more. In all, you might spend 2+ hours commuting between islands via plane.
How Much Does Traveling Between Islands in Hawaii Cost?
Learning about traveling between islands in Hawaii means considering the average cost of these inter-island trips. After all, island-hopping is only a good idea if you can afford it!
The cost of traveling between islands in Hawaii ranges from $30 to $1,800 – a wide range that means you can find options to suit your budget.
The cheapest way to travel between islands in Hawaii is the Maui-Lanai Passenger Ferry. At $30/adult for a one-way trip, it’s not cheap, but it’s much more cost-effective than inter-island flights.
The average cost of flying between islands in Hawaii varies widely based on the islands you want to visit, the airline you choose, and the time of year you choose to fly.
We found one-way inter-island flights from Honolulu to Kauai or Honolulu to Kona for as low as $44 (Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines) but there were several flights priced in the $100-$150 range.
You might pay for more nonstop flights or flights between certain islands, like Kauai and the Island of Hawaii.
Cruising between the islands of Hawaii is generally the most expensive way to island-hop, but comes with a lot of benefits and convenience.
We found cruises around $380 (Princess, Vancouver to Honolulu), $1,000 (Norwegian, Hawaii inter-island) and $1,800 (Holland America, San Diego to Hawaii).
Things to Consider
If you’ll be traveling between islands in Hawaii, there are some helpful pointers to keep in mind so you can make your trip as enjoyable and seamless as possible.
- Island-hop during whale season. In Hawaii, the spectacular whale-watching season occurs from December to May with peak action happening between January and March. If you travel between islands during this time on a cruise or ferry, you’ll have amazing opportunities to see whales breaching the surface as they migrate!
- Inter-island travel is cheaper during the low season. During April, May, September, and October, you’re more likely to score great deals on inter-island flights and cruises. The ferry cost is the same year-round, but these are great months to nab cheaper airfare or cruises.
- Fly between islands on a weekday. If you book inter-island flights on a weekday, you’ll save a little bit more due to lower demand. Flying between islands on weekends is when it’s busiest, making prices slightly higher.
- Have a backup plan for the ferry. If the weather turns nasty or the ocean conditions are particularly rough, the ferry from Maui to Lanai may not run. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan in place just in case conditions aren’t cooperating on the day you plan to visit Lanai!
- Work your travel time into your trip plans. If you’ll be traveling between islands in Hawaii, make sure to consider how long it’ll take to fly or ride the ferry to your destination. While flights can be as short as 20 minutes, getting through security at the airport takes about an hour or more. Plan for it and consider tacking an additional day or two onto your trip to leave plenty of time for fun and activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What other questions do travelers have about island-hopping or traveling between islands in Hawaii? Take a look at the FAQs below to learn more.
What is the best way to travel between islands in Hawaii?
The fastest and best way to travel between islands in Hawaii is taking inter-island flights through Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, or Mokulele Airlines.
Some consider taking the passenger ferry from Maui to Lanai the best way to travel between islands. You can enjoy scenic island views, whale-watching, and experience the natural beauty of Lanai for a day.
How much does it cost to travel between islands in Hawaii?
Flights can be as cheap as $44 one-way and get you to your island destination quickly.
Taking the passenger ferry from Maui to Lanai costs $30 or less one-way, while cruises that visit different islands start around $380.
Is there ferry service between the Hawaiian islands?
Yes, one passenger ferry runs between Lahaina, Maui and Manele, Lanai 5 times a day, 7 days a week. The ferry ride takes about 50 minutes and costs $30 for adults one-way.
There are ferry discounts available for Hawaii residents, military service members, children, seniors, and free rides for infants.
How do residents travel between Hawaiian islands?
Residents usually fly between Hawaiian islands, but taking the Maui-Lanai ferry is popular for day trips and chartering private boats is another option for residents.
Because inter-island flights can be so cheap during the low season, many residents choose to fly to other islands during the spring and fall months to score cheaper airfare.
Is it cheap to fly between Hawaiian islands?
It can be cheap to fly between Hawaiian islands with fares as low as $44 one-way. Round-trip fares are around $100-$150, but may be more expensive during peak season or to islands that are farther apart.
Fly on a weekday during the low season to score the cheapest inter-island flights in Hawaii. Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines offered the cheapest flights in our analysis.
Over to You — Visit Book Your Trip to Hawaii Today!
Traveling between islands in Hawaii couldn’t be simpler – hop on a flight, take the passenger ferry, or book a Hawaii cruise to start your island-hopping adventure!
Most people will choose inter-island flights to visit multiple Hawaiian islands in a quick and easy way. With costs as low as $44 one-way, this can be an affordable and convenient way to see more of Hawaii on your trip.
The Maui-Lanai Passenger Ferry is another great option for inter-island travel, but is limited to moving between 2 islands and costs $30 per person one-way.
Cruises are the final possibility, offering convenience and comfort with built-in stops at multiple island ports, but are also the most expensive method of traveling between islands in Hawaii.
Whatever mode of transportation you choose, you’ll be glad you decided to branch out and experience the beauty, beaches, and cultures of the different Hawaiian islands!