How to Get from Waikiki to Big Island

Waikiki to Big Island

You’re staying in Waikiki and have a day or two (or more) to explore beyond the boundaries of Oahu. You’ve got the fabled Big Island of Hawai’i on the mind. You’re in for a treat, because as the name indicates the island is large and is home to a bounty of attractions. Whether you want to check out a Kona Coffee Farm Tour, do an excursion to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, swim at night with manta rays at the Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa, sunbathe on black sand near Hilo, or stand in awe at the Pu’uhonua O Honaunau “Place of Refuge”, you will enjoy the most memorable experiences of your life. There’s only one thing standing in your way – transportation. How are you and your crew to get from Waikiki to the Big Island? Read below to make it happen!

Everything You Need to Know About Getting to the Big Island Hawai’i When You’re Staying in Waikiki Beach Oahu

1. Flights from HNL to Big Island

Unless you’re already booked on a major cruise line, there are no visitor boat or ferry services from Waikiki harbors to the Big Island. You and your party will instead fly out of Honolulu International Airport from the designated inter-island terminals.

Airlines with routes from HNL to the Big Island include Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest, and Mokulele Airlines. Hawaiian Airlines is generally more expensive than Southwest and Mokulele, but they also fly to/from the island more frequently. Furthermore, Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines are better options for the average traveler. Mokulele uses smaller aircraft such as 208EX Grand Caravans, which can be unnerving for some but more fun for others.

Between the three airlines there is a flight to Big Island almost every hour, from roughly 5 AM and until around 9 PM.

2. Which Big Island Airport to Fly To

There are two main airports on the Big Island. Your choice will dictate the flight time and airline along with where you will choose to stay (if spending a night or more on the island).

Kona International Airport (KOA) is the primary airport and is located on the west side of the Big Island. It is close to many of the destinations and attractions visitors come to the Big Island to see, including Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park (45-minutes), Historic Kailua Village (20-minutes), Hulihe‘e Palace (15-minutes), and Manta Ray Dives of Hawai‘i (10-minutes). For those of you looking to do a day trip from Waikiki to Big Island then a return trip to Kona International Airport makes the most sense.

Hilo (ITO) is the other major airport, and is located on the east side of the island. Hilo is more rural (fewer hotels, etc.), wetter, but also more adventurous. You can dive into the nearby Rainbow Falls or Wailuku River State Park (20-minutes each), explore Kaumana Caves (20-minutes), or head up to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (45-minutes) or Maunakea (1 hour) and more. if adventure if your thing then this will also be your arrival airport of choice.

There’s no shortage of eateries, shops, and things to do and see around both airports, so you really can’t go wrong. It all depends upon how much time you plan to set aside for your escape from Waikiki.

3. Most Efficient Way to Get to HNL’s Inter-Island Terminals

Hawaiian Airlines inter-island flights from HNL to Big Island depart from Terminal 1 lobbies 2 and 3, and Southwest Airlines inter-island flights depart from Terminal 2 lobby 6. Meanwhile, the Mokulele Commuter is at Terminal 3 lobby 1. In other words, all three options operate out of three separate terminals. This can make things confusing for travelers who plan to get to their designated terminal via public transit or Uber/Lyft, which have drop-off zones that are not convenient for Waikiki to Big Island travelers. While HDOT provides free Wiki Wiki shuttle service (every 20 minutes) between Terminals 1 and 2 and Terminal 3, these shuttles are jam packed with luggage-toting vacationers.

Ultimately, the best way to coordinate your quick trip to the Big Island is to book a flat-rate, direct, no-share shuttle from Waikiki to HNL which will get you as close as possible to where you need to be for your Terminal 1, 2, or 3 departure. Call us at 1.800.929.1219 to let us know which airline you’re flying with and we’ll take care of the rest.

Book your $45 private shuttle from Waikiki to HNL Inter-Island Terminal

We hope the information above provides you with some greater insight into what you need to know before taking a trip to the Big Island when staying in the Waikiki Beach area. To book your direct Honolulu Airport shuttle, call us toll FREE at 1.800.929.1219. We’ll be there to pick you up on your return to HNL too!