Getting from Oahu to the Big Island


A popular itinerary combination for a week-long stay or more in Hawaii is to first stop in Honolulu, Oahu for the “city” experience and attractions such as Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach. Many direct flights, both international and domestic, fly into Honolulu so it is a convenient first stop for your vacation.

After a few days, many will opt for a change of pace, island-hopping via a short flight over to the Big Island of Hawaii. Here you will find diverse landscapes with plenty of wide open spaces if you’ve had enough concrete. Not to mention active volcanoes, horse ranches, the Kona Coffee belt, luxurious resorts, and numerous ocean activities.

Getting from Honolulu, Oahu to the Big Island by Air

There are no ferries between Oahu and the Big Island, so your only real option is to fly.

The largest interisland carrier is Hawaiian Airlines, which connects Honolulu and both Hilo and Kona with direct flights daily. Flights are also available on go! Mokulele using smaller turboprop jet planes between the islands. Given the choice, I usually prefer Hawaiian for better service and fewer flight delays.

Another option would be tours and vacation packages that include interisland airfare, accommodation, and rental car.

Quick search for flights from Honolulu, Oahu (HNL) to Kona, Hawaii (KOA):

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Quick search for flights from Honolulu, Oahu (HNL) to Hilo, Hawaii (ITO):

Airports on the Big Island of Hawaii

The Big Island has two major airports. Kona International Airport (KOA) is located in Keahole on the western side of the island. Hilo International Airport (ITO) is located on the eastern side of the island and serves only interisland or domestic flights. For international connections, visitors must arrive via Kona. Find more information on Kona International’s official website or Hilo International’s official website.

>> Search for cheap flights to the Big Island

Getting around on the Big Island

The best way to get around the Big Island (since it is, ahem, quite big!) is to rent a car instead of relying on public bus service, especially if you plan on taking day trips. There may also be tour options available, especially if you are staying in Kona, which tends to be a little more tourist-oriented than the laid back town of Hilo. Some will even opt to fly in to one airport and out the other, in order to maximize their time on the island and to avoid back tracking on the long drive between the major towns.

>> Destination Guide: The Big Island of Hawaii
>> Things You Should Know about Kona
>> More information on Accommodations in Hawaii
>> More information on When to Go to Hawaii

photo by JesseWarren