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Island Hopping in Hawaii: How to Get Between Islands

Each island in Hawaii has a unique vibe and all are worth exploring. So a trip to Hawaii is not complete without some island hopping! 

There are a handful of ways to get between the islands, some better than others.

To learn about all the ways to island hop, check out this guide on inter island travel in Hawaii.

Can you drive from Honolulu to Maui or between any of the islands?

No, you can’t drive from Honolulu to Maui or between any of the islands.

There aren’t bridges between any of the islands, so forget trying to drive over a bridge for a quick visit!

But, have no worries – there are other options for inter island travel in Hawaii.

Are there ferries between the Hawaiian islands?

Hawaii inter island ferry service is very limited. Most people assume that there is regular ferry service between most of the major Hawaiian islands, but that is not the case. 

There used to be ferry service between several islands, such as the Molokai Ferry between Maui and Molokai, which stopped in 2016. 

There were also talks of adding a ferry from Maui to Oahu in the early 2000s, but after years of planning it was cancelled in 2009.

Closeup of 2 racks of orange life jackets against a blue mural with whales on it.

As of February 2021, there is only 1 commercial ferry service, the Expeditions Lanai Passenger Ferry, which runs between Maui and Lanai. 

The Expeditions Lanai Passenger Ferry runs 5 times per day between the dock in front of the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina, Maui and the Manele Harbor dock in Lanai City, Lanai. The ferry ride takes about 1 hour.

Please check the website linked above for accurate times, as the schedule can change.

Tickets cost $30 for adults and $20 for children, each way. Military and Kama’aina (aka resident) discounts are available. Infants are free.

What are the best inter island flights in Hawaii?

Given that there aren’t any bridges and there is limited ferry service, the best way for island hopping in Hawaii is via inter island flights. 

There are 4 airlines with inter island flights in Hawaii:

There used to be 2 additional airlines that offered interisland flights in Hawaii, Island Air and Pacific Wings.

However, Island Air closed at the end of 2017 and Pacific Wings closed in 2014.

If you’re not sure which airline to go with, start by determining which airport you want to fly into from your starting point.

While most of the islands only have 1 major commercial airport, there are a few private airports – and not all airlines service each island.

In addition, I recommend flying a direct route in order to avoid a layover.

If you don’t have a direct flight, you’ll end up spending hours connecting through another airport, wasting your precious vacation time. 

Hawaiian Airlines inter island flights

Hawaiian Airlines services 8 airports between 6 islands: Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, and Lanai. 

There are more than a dozen inter island routes serviced by Hawaiian Airlines, many of which connect schedule-wise, giving you a ton of options for island hopping.

Hawaiian Airlines runs the following routes direct:

  • Hilo International Airport, Big Island (ITO) to/from Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL)
  • Hilo International Airport, Big Island (ITO) to/from Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Kapalua, Maui (JHM)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Lanai Airport, Lanai (LNY)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Lihue Airport, Kauai (LIH)
  • Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK) to/from Lanai Airport, Lanai (LNY)
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL)
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK)
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Lihue Airport, Kauai (LIH)
  • Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA) to/from Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL)
  • Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA) to/from Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG)
  • Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA) to/from Lihue Airport, Kauai (LIH)

Mokulele Airlines inter island flights

Mokulele Airlines operates over 120 flights a day to 9 airports between 5 islands: Big Island, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu. 

NOTE: Mokulele Airlines does not service the island of Kauai.

Photo of a Cessna passenger plane at a small airfield with a rainbow overhead. The Plane says Mokulele and MokuleleAirlines.com on the side in the color red.
In Hawaiian, Moku means island and Lele means hop. Safe to say island hopping is the at the core of this airline! Photo courtesy of Mokulele Airlines.

The following inter island flights have direct routes on Mokulele Airlines:

  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Kalaupapa, Molokai (LUP)*
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Kapalua, Maui (JHM)
  • Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK) to/from Kalaupapa, Molokai (LUP)*
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Hana, Maui (HNM)
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK)
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Waimea-Kohala, Big Island (MUE) 
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA)
  • Kapalua, Maui (JHM) to/from Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA)

Makani Kai Air inter island flights

Makani Kai Air specializes in flights to and within Molokai island. They fly between Oahu, Maui, and Molokai islands. Makani Kai Air also offers private charter flights.

The following routes are available direct on Makani Kai Air:

  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Princeville, Kauai (HPV)
  • Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK) to/from Kalaupapa, Molokai (LUP)*
  • Hoolehua Molokai Airport, Molokai (MKK) to/from Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG)
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA)

*A permit is required prior to boarding a flight to Kalaupapa.

Kalaupapa is a former leprosy colony and is now a protected park within the National Park Service.

Permits are free and you can learn more about obtaining one on the Kalaupapa National Historical Park website.

Southwest Airlines inter island flights

Southwest Airlines is new to flying between mainland US and Hawaii, as well as inter island flights. 

Photo of a Southwest Airlines plane parked at Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii, the newest destination for Southwest.

The following inter island flights in Hawaii are serviced by Southwest. 

  • Hilo International Airport, Big Island (ITO) to/from Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Lihue Airport, Kauai (LIH)
  • Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL) to/from Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG)
  • Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG) to/from Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA)
  • Kona International Airport, Big Island (KOA) to/from Honolulu International Airport, Oahu (HNL)

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How much does it cost to fly between islands in Hawaii?

The cost to fly between islands in Hawaii varies based on time of year, when you buy the ticket, and route. I’ve seen flights as low as $50 and as high as $300, each way. In general, direct flights will cost less.

In order to determine your budget, I recommend doing a bit of research on your end so that there are no surprises. 

Determine your start and end points, then use this post to determine which airlines fly that route direct. 

From there you can click on each airline link and price out your route to find the best time and price for your needs.

Hawaii island hopping day trips

Another option for island hopping is to join a day trip. If you’d rather not stress about pricing individual flights, worry about not missing your flight(s), or just don’t want to bother with all the planning, this is the way to go. 

A day tour will have a single price that includes flights, transportation, a tour guide, and so on. All you have to do is show up! 

I haven’t done a day trip yet, but am a frequent Viator customers. There are a ton of day tours that you can book through this service. For example, this Oahu to Big Island tour includes a stop at Volcano National Park. 

To book a tour, head to Viator.com and type in Oahu to Big Island tour or whichever island you are starting from and the one you want to visit to see which tours are available.

Hawaii island hopping cruise

Last but not least, island hopping in Hawaii can be done with ease through a Hawaiian cruise. Cruises in Hawaii have itineraries that are designed to give you a taste of several islands in one vacation. 

Many of the major cruise lines, such as Crystal Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean, offer Hawaii cruise itineraries.

Closeup photo of the dedication ceremony for Royal Caribbean International's Ovation of the Seas cruise ship. People in suits and business attire are standing on the top deck of the ship watching a flag raising ceremony on a large flat screen above the pool area below them.
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas is 1 of 3 ships that currently cruise around Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International.

If you prefer a smaller, more intimate cruise experience, UnCruise Adventures is a reputable company to consider.

Some of these companies have cruise itineraries that leave from Canada or the US. So if you’d rather not deal with a long flight to Hawaii or are traveling with someone that has a fear of flying, this could be a great way to work around those concerns.

Are you ready to go island hopping in Hawaii?

Let me know in the comments below which Hawaiian islands you plan to visit on your next trip, using these island hopping tips.

This post was originally published on January 17, 2017. It was last updated on February 19, 2021.

Lisa

Saturday 20th of March 2021

We are staying on the Big Island for 15 days. I would like to spend a day in Maui. Is flying the only way for a same day adventure?

Meg Frost

Monday 26th of April 2021

Hi Lisa,

The best way to do a day trip to Maui from the Big Island is via air. I'm not sure which airport on the Big Island you'll be closest too, but check out this post to find out which airlines fly between the 2 so you can check out flights. You might be able to charter a private boat, but it'll be expensive and likely more time consuming than it's worth. Unfortunately there aren't any ferries between the Big Island and Maui.

Anne Frost

Sunday 14th of June 2020

We want to palm a trip going to the Arizona monument then on to Maui. Any suggestions?

Audry Manuel

Sunday 22nd of September 2019

I am lookin to Island hop only from Maui to the big island. Any ideals please. Just for a day.

Meg Frost

Sunday 22nd of September 2019

Hi Audry, You would need to fly from Maui to the Big Island (which has 2 airports) using one of the airlines mentioned in this post. There currently aren't any ferries from Maui to Big Island.

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