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Island Hopping in Hawaii: How to Do It Right

Hawaiian Island Hopping

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When you’re making the big trip to Hawaii, you might plan on island hopping. But what’s the easiest way to get around? And is it worth the trip?

Island hopping in Hawaii is absolutely worth it. The islands are all incredibly different and it’s easy to get from island to island. But it’s important to know that island hopping can be time-consuming so you want to make sure your trip is long enough for these extra travel days. 

To help you plan your trip, let’s get into the details. 

Now that you’re about to know how to go inter-island like a pro, make sure you have the other parts of your trip figured out: 1. We use Discount Hawaii Car Rental 95% of the time and it has saved us thousands 2. If you haven’t booked your stay, check out our Where to Stay database 3. We’ve searched high and low for the absolute best tours & activities on each island 4. Don’t leave home without our itineraries . Really.

Options for island hopping in Hawaii:

If you’re looking to island-hop in Hawaii, you have a few options. Depending on what islands you’re traveling between, you can get there by airplane or ferry. You can also book an inter-island cruise or a guided tour to island hop for a day. 

Let’s look at these options more in-depth:

1. Flying between Hawaiian islands

Flying between the Hawaiian islands is the most popular and least expensive way to island hop. 

Commercial Airlines offering inter-island flights: 

There are three commercial airlines that offer inter-island flights in Hawaii:

  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Mokulele Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines:

The largest operator of flights to and from Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines has the inter-island routes covered. On Hawaiian Airlines, you can find direct flights between Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island. Hawaiian Airlines flies into the major airports on each island: Honolulu, Oahu (HNL), Kahului, Maui (OGG), Lihue, Kauai (LIH), Kona, Hawaii (KOA), and Hilo, Hawaii (ITO). 

Southwest Airlines:

The newest entrant to inter-island travel, Southwest Airlines operates on similar routes to Hawaiian Airlines. You’ll get direct flights between the four major islands. Known for their low-cost fares, they’re generally your cheapest option for inter-island flying (though Hawaiian Airlines has extremely competitive fares). 

Mokulele Airlines:

Mokulele Airlines operates small, turbo-prop planes that fly from the main airports as well as smaller airports on the islands. It is the only airline to fly to both Molokai and Lanai. On the Big Island, it flies out of Hilo (ITO) and Kona (KOA) as well as Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE). And on Maui, it flies out of both Kahului (OGG) as well as Kapalua (JHM). Just like the other airlines, it also flies out of Honolulu (HNL) and Lihue (LIH). 

Airports on Each Island:

Each Hawaiian island that you can visit has at least one airport, which makes island hopping a breeze. The airport code for each airport are:

Daniel K. Inouye Airport in Honolulu (HNL)

Kahului Airport (OGG) Kapalua Airport (JHM)

Hawai’i (Big Island):

Hilo International Airport (ITO) Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA) Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE)

Lihue Airport (LIH)

Lana’i Aiport (LNY)

Molokai Airport (MKK)

Flight times between Hawaiian islands:

To give you an idea of just how quick these flights are, these are some sample times from Southwest Airlines:

island hopping trip hawaii

Maui Wayfinder Itinerary

island hopping trip hawaii

Kauai Wayfinder Itinerary

island hopping trip hawaii

Big Island Wayfinder Itinerary

island hopping trip hawaii

Oahu Wayfinder Itinerary

2. taking a ferry between the hawaiian islands.

If you’re traveling between Maui and Lanai, you have the option of taking a ferry. Expeditions Lanai operates a ferry service for the 45-minute trip between the two islands. 

Here’s a video of our day trip to Lanai using Expeditions Lanai to island hop:

If you’re looking to take a ferry to Molokai, you’re out of luck. Unfortunately, while a ferry used to operate between Maui and Molokai , that service stopped in 2016. 

Related read: Is Lanai Worth a Day Trip? Yes…and here’s why. 

3. Cruising between the Hawaiian Islands

If you’re set on seeing multiple islands in a short period of time and you don’t want to fly, taking an inter-island cruise is an option. Norwegian Cruise Line offers options that depart from and return to Oahu, making stops on the neighbor islands. 

4. Guided day trips

If you’re looking to island-hop just to make a day trip to Pearl Harbor, your best bet might be to go with a guide. Why? Guided tours offer an efficient and stress-free way to see as much as possible in a short day trip. Rather than needing to make reservations, book and pick up a rental car, and navigate a new spot, a guided trip can take care of the headache for you. 

Read more about our favorite experience island-hopping for our Pearl Harbor day trip . 

Is it easy to travel between the Hawaiian Islands?

Traveling between the Hawaiian islands is easy. The flights are short — 30 to 45 minutes in the air. Just enough time to get a glass of water or POG (Passion Orange Guava juice) if flying Hawaiian Airlines. 

Related read: What to Pack for Your Hawaii Vacation (plus a list for each island)

How much does it cost to travel between the Hawaiian Islands?

Depending on when you want to travel and how far in advance you book your tickets, travel between the Hawaiian islands can be very reasonable. Flights can be found as cheap as $39 each way on Hawaiian and Southwest Airlines. $39 is the best we’ve seen. Expect to pay between $50 to $100 for a one-way ticket.

How long does it take to travel between the Hawaiian islands?

Flights between each Hawaiian island are short: expect them to last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes for a direct flight. But even though the flight itself is short, when you’re island hopping in Hawaii, the entire process can easily take 4 to 5 hours (door to door). You’ll need to drive to the airport, return your rental car, go through security, fly to the next island, pick up a new rental car, and check into your hotel.

Expect your travel day to take even longer if you aren’t able to get a direct flight. Many of the inter-island flight options require a stop in Honolulu before heading onto your final destination. 

Island-hopping in Hawaii: Fast Faqs

Are there ferries between the hawaiian islands.

There is only one ferry between Hawaiian islands and that is the ferry from Maui to Lanai. There used to be a ferry between Maui and Molokai, but that ferry service was discontinued in 2016 . 

Cheapest way to travel between Hawaiian islands

The cheapest way to travel between Hawaiian islands is to fly. You can find inter-island flights for as little as $39 each way, depending on when you want to travel and how far in advance you book. 

Easiest way to travel between Hawaiian islands

For most people, flying is the easiest way to travel between the Hawaiian islands. Southwest, Hawaiian Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines all operate plenty of flights each day that will take you between all of the islands. 

If you’d prefer to have all of the island-hopping details taken care of for you, then the easiest way to travel between the islands is on a cruise ship. 

Should you visit multiple islands on your trip to Hawaii?

If you have the time, you should consider visiting multiple islands on your trip to Hawaii. Each island offers something very unique and different. But make sure you’re giving yourself enough time on each island before moving to the next. We generally recommend that you spend at least 5 days on each island that you visit. Ideally, you’ll be able to spend a little more time on each island to fully experience it as well as relax. 

Related read: What Hawaiian Island Should You Visit? We can help you decide. 

Yes, you can spend less time on an island but your trip will likely feel rushed and you’ll miss out on some of the features that make each island so unique and spectacular. 

Related read: Get the perfect first time to Hawaii itinerary (island hopping included!)

Get a good deal on a rental car while island hopping

When you get to a new island, you’ll probably need another rental car. Don’t spend more than you need to. We love using Discount Hawaii Car Rental when we island hop. By using them, we’ve saved thousands of dollars over the last two years (seriously). They work with national carriers and you don’t need to pay anything in advance to secure your reservation. 

Trust us, Discount Hawaii Car Rental is really that good.

Hawaiian Islands’ Cheat Sheets

As you continue your Hawaii vacation trip planning, take the easy way out with our cheat sheets. Download free cheat sheets for each of the four major Hawaiian Islands to help you get familiar with the islands.

island hopping trip hawaii

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I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We have lived on Maui and Oahu and continue to travel, experience, and learn about the Hawaiian Islands. We travel with our kids, Henry and Edith. I am a planner! I love to plan trips from the mainland and island-hopping adventures, excursion days, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time in Hawai'i on a SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!

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Island Hopping: How To Travel Between Islands in Hawaii?

How to get from one island to another.

Hawaii Sun Set View

The urge to travel between Hawaiian islands is very common and hits virtually all of Hawaii’s 10 million annual visitors. There are once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had on each of Hawaii’s islands and you want to see it all. But you should fight that urge.

As you’ll find out, there’s only one way to get from island to island, and the price can add up quickly. But, more importantly, you’ll need a lot of time just to see the attractions on one island. Hawaii Island hopping will spread your itinerary very thin.

Spend At Least A Week Per Island


We recommend a repeatable three-day schedule for your Hawaiian vacation. Here it is below:

Day 1 “Active” - Hike to get the blood flowing.

Day 2 “Semi-active” - Take a guided tour to see part of the island that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Day 3 “Rest” - Spend the day at the beach, in the spa or by the pool to recuperate.

Let’s say that you land at 10:00 a.m. You’ll have to collect your bags and rent a car before driving yourself to the hotel. You’ll then have to check-in before you get settled into your room. Well, it’s 2:00 p.m. by the time you’re ready to go, but don’t you want to just relax? After all, you flew for hours to get to this tropical paradise, and you’re tired.


That leaves you just six days to go through the cycle twice. You’ll have to pick your two favorite hikes, and each island has way more than two alluring hikes. Your crew will be forced to choose just two guided tours, and that leaves just two days for your two favorite beaches. As you can see, there’s no way to see everything a single island has to offer in just a week. Of course, you can pack more into the afternoons and evenings, especially a luau or something similar, but you are still limited in how much you can do.

When To Hawaii Island Hop?

You can see the highlights of your favorite island in a week, so, if you have more than a week to spend in Hawaii, then it’s a good time to island-hop. If you have 10 days then spend a week on one island then three days on your second-favorite island. Best case scenario: You book two weeks solid in Hawaii to split your time between your two favorite islands. If you really want to see three islands then you should try to extend your stay to three weeks, and so on.

How To Travel Between Islands in Hawaii?

Book a fligh

For years, Hawaiian Air and Mokulele Air have been your choices for inter-island flights with Hawaiian holding up to 90% of the market share. That’s not a whole lot of competition which means Hawaiian Air can raise prices artificially. But Southwest Airlines has announced they’ll be jumping into the inter-island market in 2019 which should force a fare war to the consumer’s benefit. Be prepped and ready to finally travel between the island in Hawaii on a budget . 

What To Expect On Hawaii Island Hopping Flights 

Island Hopping Flights

But you may find yourself connecting for your inter-island flight. Flight schedules between two airports in Hawaii can be rather sparse, so many flights take you to Honolulu to connect to your destination. So a flight that should take 45 minutes might take you a few hours if you factor in your layover time.

Itinerary Disruption

As you can see, it may take you a while to get from one island to another. Plus, you have to factor in the time it takes to pack your stuff, drive to the airport, return your rental car, board the plane, layover (if necessary), pick up your new rental car, drive to your new hotel, and unpack again. That could be a day in and of itself, so only island hop if you have the time and the flights work out in your favor.

The Supreme Way To Travel Between the Hawaiian Islands

Norwegian Cruise

Are you ready to explore all of the islands yourself? You clearly need help but do not know where to turn? Discover how the Hawaiian Planner can do all of the dirty work to get you on your dream vacation. Contact us today to learn more about our affordable services and reliable information.

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How to Island Hop in Hawaii

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Table of Contents

How many Hawaiian islands can you see on one trip?

Which hawaiian islands can you hop to, list of hawaii island-hopping airlines, can you island hop in hawaii by boat, how to island hop in hawaii for cheap, best way to island hop in hawaii recapped.

Editor's note: Travel to Maui has been significantly impacted due to recent wildfires in the region. Visit the Hawaii Tourism Authority website for up-to-date information.

You can fly from the Big Island of Hawaii to Maui in just 33 minutes. From Maui, Oahu is just 37 minutes away. To get from Oahu to Kauai, it’s another short 37-minute flight.

With the major islands so close together, surely you can island hop to experience Volcanoes Park on the Big Island, Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Maui’s heavenly Road to Hana and Kauai’s breathtaking Napali Coast all on one trip, right?

Not so fast.

Hawaii island hopping isn’t as breezy as you’d guess. If you’re not careful, FOMI — fear of missing islands — can turn your tropical escape into a blur of airport security checkpoints, rental car agencies and hotel staff telling you your room won’t be ready for three more hours. But if you have the time and you use it wisely, you may be able experience a multi-island vacation. And if you plan right, you can use or earn points or miles for your trip.

You could easily spend two or three weeks on one of the major Hawaiian islands and never run out of things to see and do. Adding a second island means you have to sacrifice doing something on your first island. Plus, from the time you start packing up to check out of your first island hotel until you’re checked in and ready to explore your second, you lose almost half a day — a good chunk of it spent in traffic, airports and rental car company shuttle buses.

To make the most of your time and successfully travel between Hawaiian islands, plan to visit no more than one island per week. If you have your heart set on a Maui vacation, but absolutely must see Pearl Harbor or Volcanoes Park, you could squeeze them both into an eight-day trip.

For anything less than eight or nine days, pick one island and just say no to future regret.

The Hawaiian archipelago comprises 137 islands, but only six host the bulk of overnight visitors. Of these, four are major islands that are connected to the U.S. mainland by nonstop flights:

Oahu, home to Waikiki and Pearl Harbor.

Maui, home to Haleakala Crater and the Road to Hana.

The Big Island of Hawaii, home to Volcanoes National Park and Mauna Kea Observatory.

Kauai, home to the famous Napali Coast.

There are two other islands that you can get to via departure points within Hawaii:

Lanai, home to two secluded Four Seasons Resorts.

Molokai, home to Father Damien’s 19th-century colony for individuals with Hansen’s disease, which was called leprosy at the time.

A few uninhabited islands and islets are popular for snorkeling and kayaking on short day trips. For example, Maui visitors can book snorkel excursions to Molokini Crater.

» Learn more: The best times to visit Hawaii, broken down by travel style

You won’t find many ferries braving the choppy seas between the major islands in Hawaii, so flying is the best way to travel between Hawaiian islands. Only three airlines operate scheduled flights between them: Hawaiian Airlines , Southwest Airlines and Mokulele Airlines. The latter is owned by Southern Airways Express (if you do a Google flight search for interisland routes and see Southern Airways’ name, it’s a Mokulele flight).

So, for Hawaii island hopping flights, your choices are limited.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines operates interisland flights to:

Honolulu International Airport on Oahu.

Kahului Airport on Maui.

Lihue Airport on Kauai.

Kona and Hilo airports on the Big Island.

The pandemic caused Hawaiian to suspend flights to Lanai and Molokai in early 2021, and the airline does not plan to revive those routes anytime soon.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest flies interisland to:

Kona and Hilo on the Big Island.

» Learn more: Your complete guide to Southwest's Hawaiian flights

Mokulele Airlines

Mokulele, whose name means “island hopper” in Hawaiian, flies to:

Kona on the Big Island.

Mokulele is the only option for air travelers to Molokai and Lanai. You can book a seat on one of its 11 Cessna 208EX Grand Caravan propeller planes or charter a flight for groups or private tours. Scheduled flights include some smaller airports where Hawaiian won’t take you, like Hana on Maui and Kamuela-Waimea on the Big Island.

Most islands are inaccessible by ferry, but Lanai is the exception. You can make the short sea voyage to this unspoiled piece of paradise from Maui.

If you're determined to travel by boat, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise lines offer itineraries that start and end in Hawaii, stopping at different islands on seven-night itineraries.

Cruising isn’t the best option for Hawaii visitors who want to immerse themselves in the spirit of aloha. Your time on each island can be a little rushed and regimented, and your evenings will feel more like a Caribbean cruise than an authentic Hawaiian adventure.

A few tips and tricks can help you keep a handle on your budget while island hopping in Hawaii.

Skip bag fees

If you fly Southwest, you won’t pay to check your first two standard bags.

When you fly Hawaiian Airlines between neighbor islands, your first checked bag costs $25 and your second costs $35 — a lot for such a short flight. But HawaiianMiles members pay $15 for their first checked bag and $20 for their second, saving 40% or more. Joining is free, so make sure everyone in your party signs up if you’re going to island hop on Hawaiian Airlines.

You can also get two free checked bags on Hawaiian Airlines if you use the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® to pay for your tickets when booking directly with the airline, but only the primary cardmember gets the waived bag fees.

» Learn more: What the Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles program gets right

Earn or redeem points for your travel

If you’re flying Southwest, you can earn valuable Rapid Rewards points redeemable for travel anywhere Southwest flies just by signing up for the loyalty program.

If you island hop on Hawaiian, you should sign up for the HawaiianMiles loyalty program, even if you don’t plan to return to Hawaii. You can easily convert any leftover miles into Hilton Honors points : 10,000 HawaiianMiles will get you 15,000 points, which you can use for hotel stays almost anywhere in the world.

Further, members of the Points program can exchange HawaiianMiles for points in other loyalty programs in their Points Loyalty Wallet.

Learn more: The cheapest ways to fly to Hawaii using points and miles

Get a Hawaiian Airlines or Southwest credit card

If you fly Hawaiian Airlines, use the Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® to pay for your flights and you’ll get 3 miles for every dollar. Plus, you can earn a welcome bonus. Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. . The card also comes with a 50% companion fare discount, which could light a fire under you to come back to the islands soon.

Southwest Airlines offers a number of credit cards that pay bonus points on Southwest purchases. The $69 -annual-fee Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the following welcome bonus for new cardmembers: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

» Learn more: Main Cabin Basic on Hawaiian Airlines: What to know

Use a hotel credit card

If you plan to stay in chain hotels, get a hotel credit card that earns points you can redeem for an award stay. Or use that card to pay for your stay and earn bonus points at these properties. Almost every major hotel program has properties in Hawaii, including Marriott Bonvoy , Hilton Honors, World of Hyatt , Wyndham Rewards and IHG Rewards .

Start picking out your preferred hotels early to know which credit card to get. For example, if the historic Moana Surfrider on Oahu is calling to you, be sure to pay with a Marriott Bonvoy credit card like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card . You’ll earn up to 17x bonus points for every qualifying dollar you charge with the hotel. If economy brands are more your style, Wyndham Rewards members can earn points at the conveniently located Ramada Plaza Waikiki.

» Learn more: Find the best hotel credit card for you

Save on rental cars

At DiscountHawaiiCarRental.com you can find discounted rates for rental cars from Avis, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise and Alamo. If you plan to spend most of your time lounging at the resort and just a little time exploring, you can rent a car for just a day at many resort areas, saving money on the rental and parking too.

Reserve your rental car early . When the pandemic hit, Hawaii rental car locations started reducing their fleets, shipping cars overseas. Wait too long to reserve and you could be looking at rates starting at $1,400 per day.

island hopping trip hawaii

Wait a little longer and you might find no rental cars available at all.

But if you book a few months in advance, you could find rates starting at $130 a day or lower. Most car rentals don’t require prepayment or a deposit. So if rental agencies replenish their inventories and prices go down from there, you can always cancel and rebook.

island hopping trip hawaii

Use your Priority Pass membership to get into the Honolulu Airport lounge

If you have a credit card that comes with Priority Pass Select membership , like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card , you can enjoy a free snack, drink and a serene place to wait for your flight in the Plumeria Lounge at Honolulu airport.

Compare package deals from Hawaii specialists

Hawaiian Airlines Vacations packages can sometimes include negotiated hotel rates, negotiated rental car rates or the airline’s own flight deals. Another agency specializing in Hawaii, Pleasant Holidays sometimes offers good deals on Hawaii island hopping packages. Get a price for your whole trip by searching its websites, then compare the total with the deals you can get booking flights and hotels separately.

Budget for resort fees and parking fees

Hawaii is infamous for outrageous resort fees and, in Honolulu, equally high parking rates. Together, they can add $100 a night to your hotel costs. Budget accordingly.

» Learn more: How to travel to Honolulu on points and miles

If you don’t have at least eight or nine days to spend in Hawaii, don’t island hop. You’ll have a better time taking full advantage of your first-choice island. But if you have more time or you just can’t resist, you can get between the major islands by air.

Take advantage of savings opportunities, like Hawaiian Airlines’ HawaiianMiles neighbor island checked bag discount, and use co-branded credit cards to maximize your rewards at every hotel you hop to.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-5% Enjoy 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Matched Cash Back Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

island hopping trip hawaii

Hawaii Travel Spot

Hawaii Island Hopping Guide + 1-3 Day Hawaii Itineraries

Are you overwhelmed trying to plan a trip to more than one island in hawaii.

Whether you are heading on a Hawaii honeymoon, anniversary trip, solo adventure, or family vacation, it can be tricky to plan your perfect trip to Hawaii. And visiting Hawaii for the first time can also take a lot of research as you figure out where to go, fun things to do, where to stay, and how to get there. I’ve got ALL that covered for you!

As a passionate traveler who has visited Hawaii more than 40 times, I know all the ins and outs of traveling between the Hawaiian islands. We do this on almost every trip.

Plus, I’ve mapped out lots of awesome itineraries that will guarantee you’ll visit the top attractions, eat at the tastiest spots, and discover some hidden gems along the way!

If you’ll be spending more than 3 days on an island, you’ll want to get my individual island guides for Oahu , Maui , Kauai , or the Big Island .

Check out this Hawaii Island Hopping guide featuring Hawaii itineraries for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island, Lana'i, and Moloka'i by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel Spot!

What’s Included in the Island Hopping Guide?

  • 62 Detailed Pages
  • Hawaii Cruising Tips + Port Excursions
  • How to Fly Between the Islands
  • Daily Schedules
  • Epic Tours and Activities
  • Hawaii Resort/Hotel Recommendations
  • Complete Packing List
  • Hawaii Culture + Food Guide

Here’s a Preview of my Hawaii Island Hopping Travel Guide

island hopping trip hawaii

Why Do I Need This Island Hopping Guidebook?

So many visitors end up over-scheduling their Hawaii vacation by spending all their time at the airport as they try to cram as many islands in as possible!

This guide will show you what you can easily see/do on each island, even if you only have 1, 2, or 3 days. These are the same activities my own family does in Hawaii and what I always suggest to my friends. You’ll get a taste of Hawaii with me as your guide!

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Photo: Tubing down Hanamalu Ditch, Kauai

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Why settle for seeing just one island on a Hawaii resort-based vacation when you can cruise in style and explore multiple island jewels? Sailing with Princess is a far better vacation value, and you’ll visit popular Hawaiian islands —  Oahu ,  Kauai  and the Big Island ( Hilo  and  Kona ) — without all the time-consuming hassle of island hopping by plane. From enriching  Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions  to our immersive "Aloha Spirit" program onboard, you'll discover each island's unique charm — and fall in love with Hawaii's enchanting beauty.

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Photo: Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Oahu

Once the favorite playground of Hawaiian royalty, great warrior King Kamehameha chose to make  Maui's  Lahaina his capital after uniting the Hawaiian islands. Explore breathtaking Haleakala National Park that boasts diverse volcanic and rainforest landscapes, plus a 10,000 foot tall dormant volcano. Or sail out onto the scenic waters off Maui’s sun-kissed shores and witness in awe as humpback whales frolic about.

Photo: Humpback whales off the coast of Maui

When it comes to  Kauai , good things come in small packages. Despite being the smallest of the four main islands, Kauai is home to the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" Waimea Canyon,the lush Fern Grotto framed by Wailua River, and so much more. The stunning Na Pali Coast has served as the backdrop for Hollywood blockbusters, such as Jurassic Park and King Kong. With endless emerald landscapes, Kauai truly lives up to its nickname of "The Garden Island".

Photo: Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Nearly twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian islands combined, the Big Island ( Hilo and Kona ) is a paradise of black-sand beaches, tropical rainforests, and even snow-capped peaks at the soaring Mauna Kea summit. Feel the spiritual "mana" on a shore excursion in Waipi'o Valley, once the meeting place for Hawaiian kings and fabled to contain an otherworldly gate. At the famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, behold extraordinary lava landscapes and two of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Photo: The Mauna Kea Observatories on the Big Island, Hawaii

Hawaii Cruise Articles and Videos

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2023-2024 Hawaii Cruises

Your island paradise awaits

8 Best Beaches in Hawaii

Oahu’s famous waves, Kauai’s hidden shores and the Big Island’s black sand. Discover the 8 best beaches in Hawaii and see them for yourself with Princess.

Best Time to Cruise to Hawaii

Aloha! Embrace the culture of the islands by learning these Hawaiian words and sayings. They'll serve you well during your next Princess Hawaiian cruise.

Best Hawaiian Cruise Destinations

From the emerald mountains of Kauai to the white-sand beaches of Maui, discover the best Hawaiian Islands to visit when you sail with Princess.

5 Top Hawaiian Staple Foods & Ingredients

Discover the gastronomic array of Hawaiian staple food during your next visit. Hawaiian food and ingredients have influences unlike anywhere else on Earth.

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Plan your Hawaiian excursions. Princess cruise excursions are pure magic, offering luaus, beautiful beaches and glimpses into Hawaii's unique culture.

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Travel Weekly

What to know about island hopping in Hawaii

It’s possible to island-hop between the Hawaiian Islands in one trip. The view from the Four Seasons Resort Maui.

Though I generally recommend that first-time visitors stick to one island, since there's more than enough to see and do, island hopping is not difficult to do. The flights -- yes, you'll be going by air to most of them -- are short, so you won't miss much of the day. And, if you start early enough, you could decide to go to an island for the day and return, rather than staying the night. It's really up to you.

On a recent trip, I spent four days on Maui, including a daytrip to Lanai, then flew to Oahu for three days. But it's easier for me to do this because my itineraries are very focused. I've traveled so many times from island to island that I don't have to see everything. I'm going, rather, for one or two specific things to do on each island. That's really the key in making your island-hopping trips a success, otherwise, trying to pack everything into a short itinerary can be exhausting. 

If you can't pick one island to base your entire trip around, then pick a couple islands and work on the itinerary. If you pick Oahu and Maui, they will each need a good number of days. You could do half and half or four days on one island and three days on the other. 

Lanai can be visited in a day. I'd recommend a daytrip there while you're staying on Maui. Tip: Take the earliest ferry out so you can take advantage of the full day. Book the Lanai rental car as far in advance as you can -- there aren't many.

I tend to book daytrips to Kauai, too, rather than staying the night, unless I have hiking or camping plans. When I do go for the day, I take an early flight, get breakfast at an open restaurant, then drive around to the places I want to go. On the return, I book the flight out before it gets dark, because things close early there. Once it's nighttime, the only things left to visit are restaurants.

If your plans are to go to the Big Island of Hawaii , I would treat it like Oahu and Maui and give it a few days. As its name says, it's a big island, so driving and getting around take longer. For those reasons, I wouldn't recommend it as a daytrip. 

With that said, there's no right or wrong way to island-hop in Hawaii, no matter the combination of islands you choose. It just needs some smart planning and an understanding that everything might not fit into your schedule, some cuts may need to be made.

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Hawaii island hopping guide 2023: Travel between islands in Hawaii

Time to plan your Hawaiian vacation ? When we booked our first Hawaii island hopping trip, the initial excitement soon turned into panic when we realized the amount of research ahead. Is it easy to travel between Hawaiian islands? How far are they apart? What’s the cheapest way to travel between Hawaiian islands? And what’s the quickest way? Can you island hop in Hawaii by boat? And if there’s a ferry service, do you book it in advance? How long does it take to travel between Hawaiian islands? And should you combine your Oahu trip with a stay in Maui or with a stay on Big Island or Kauai? Which are the best islands in Hawaii for families ? And which ones are home to the most spectacular hotels or dreamy Hawaiian Airbnbs ?

Planning your first trip island hopping in Hawaii can be intense. In order not to feel any bit as overwhelmed as we did, read this – before you book your flights – and you’ll know exactly how to go island hopping in Hawaii. This is the essential travel guide we wish we had when we booked our trip. So, let’s dive in and find out what’s the best way to travel between Hawaiian islands.

Flowers, foliage and sunset on the Hawaiian islands

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Table of Contents

How to island hop in Hawaii

Island hopping in hawaii by plane, flying to hawaii: hawaiian airports by island.

Scenic views from your window seat when you travel between Hawaiian islands on your island hopping Hawaii adventure

Let’s have a look how many islands on Hawaii are open to visitors and which airports in Hawaii are best to embark on your adventure.

  • Oahu : The most popular island is home to the state capital as well as the only international airport in Hawaii: Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HLN). Because it’s such a hub, flights from the mainland to this airport are often better priced than those to the other islands. So, Honolulu International Airport is a great choice to start island hopping in Hawaii.
  • Maui : The number of direct flights from the mainland of the United States to Maui’s main hub , Kahului (OGG) is increasing which is why it’s becoming a major competitor for Honolulu airport price-wise. Again, a good choice to start off and end your Hawaiian trip. When you’re staying in Ka’anapali , nearby West-Maui’s Kapalua airport (JHM) might be a valid option for inter-island flights but you’ll likely be traveling in a smaller plane and thus spend more time in the air.
  • Kauai : The island’s major airport is Lihue (LIH) to which only a handful of (mainly Californian) destinations fly directly. Most visitors will need to transfer in Honolulu. If you consider flying to Kauai directly , then note that it’ll be more expensive. That’s why Kauai might be the better choice as an in-between island.
  • Big Island of Hawaii : As the name suggests, this is the largest island which explains why there are two Big Island Hawaii airports: Kona (KOA) & Hilo (ITO). Only inter-island flights can land in Hilo. Some airlines offer direct flights to Kona from the mainland but it will cost you. So, just as for Kauai, we’re recommend you to visit the Big Island from or in between Oahu and Maui.
  • Lanai and Molokai : There are no direct flights from the mainland to neither Lanai nor Molokai, only inter-island flights.

Flying in Hawaii: Airlines that travel between Hawaiian islands

Hawaii interisland flights make it easy to travel between Hawaiian islands

At the time of publishing this article, these are the carriers that offer inter-island Hawaii flights:

  • Hawaiian Airlines  (and its regional subsidiary ‘Ohana by Hawaiian Airlines)
  • Southwest Airlines operates between the Hawaiian islands. However, flights always start or end in Honolulu. So, if you want to fly from Maui to Kauai non-stop, then you’re better off opting for another airline.
  • Mokulele Airlines .
  • Makani Kai air.
  • Lanai City is a luxury connection between Honolulu International Airport (HNL) and Lanai.

Cost of going island hopping in Hawaii

We loved our Hawaii island hopper trip Oahu to Big Island

How much does it cost to travel between Hawaiian islands? Well, remember our excitement after booking that great flight deal for our family of four? Turns out it only lasted until we researched tickets prices for flights between Hawaiian islands . Is island hopping in Hawaii expensive? We think so, especially because the number of inter-island flights that are scheduled on a daily basis is pretty high. We therefore never expected to see these relatively high prices. An important  Hawaii fact  to consider when planning your itinerary .

Travel between Hawaiian islands cost outline (based on our Hawaii island hopping itinerary):

  • Day 1: Oahu (Honolulu airport – HNL) to Maui (Kahului airport – OGG)
  • Day 2-5: Maui
  • Day 6: Maui (Kahului airport – OGG) to Big Island (Hilo airport – ITO)
  • Day 7-14: Big Island
  • Day 15 : Big Island (Kona airport – KOA) to Oahu (Honolulu airport – HNL)
  • Day 16-20: Oahu

We paid a total of $249,60 (about €220) per person for these 3 inter-island flights. The second flight, the one from Maui to Hilo, was the most expensive one at $80 (about €70) per person despite being the shortest of the three. So, we finally did manage to find an okay deal but it took some figuring out the best dates, flight times and route for the most interesting Hawaiian island hopping itinerary. Of course, you could reduce the cost by spending your transferable credit card points or miles wisely.

Tip : Use this  Hawaii travel cost  calculator to budget your entire trip to the islands ( Hawaii inter-island flights , rental car , accommodation , food and excursions ).

Baggage fees

Start your Hawaii island hopping from Oahu airport

Before-mentioned ticket price does not include checked bags. Luckily our beach vacation packing list allows us to travel light because, for a family of four on a three-week trip, luggage supplements can significantly increase the total cost. On inter-island flights with Hawaiian, you pay $25 (€22) for the 1st bag and $35 (€31) for the 2nd bag. However, Hawaiian Miles members only pay $15 (€13) for the 1st bag and $20 (€17,5) for the 2nd bag so if you haven’t registered for their loyalty program yet, then do so before you travel in Hawaii!

Choose the scenic side

You want to sit at the right side of the plane when you go island hopping in Hawaii, simply because the scenery is spectacular! Of course you could figure out yourself what that side is from the map but hey, you appreciate excellent service just like we do, now don’t you? That’s why we’ve gathered the best seating sides for Hawaii inter-island travel:

Little girl with Hawaiian flower pin in plain dreaming about which Hawaii islands to visit during your island hopping in Hawaii

  • Honolulu → Maui Kahului: left
  • Honolulu → Kauai Lihue: right
  • Honolulu → Kona: left
  • Honolulu → Hilo: both
  • Maui Kahului → Honolulu: right
  • Maui → Hilo: both
  • Maui → Kona: left
  • Kauai Lihue → Honolulu: left
  • Kona → Honolulu: right
  • Kona → Maui Kahului: right
  • Hilo → Honolulu: right
  • Hilo → Maui: right

Flight times and airport infrastructure

Traveling between islands in Hawaii by plane will take anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes. Out of the 3 inter-island flights we took, 1 was delayed and 1 was canceled (we were rebooked after a 2-hour wait).

Hawaii airports Big Island allow to travel between islands in Hawaii

The airports of Kahului and Hilo were pretty decent and staff were very kind and helpful but Kona airport seemed very basic. We had to walk barefooted over a disgusting carpet – luckily, disinfectant wipes are part of my standard equipment – and were treated with anything but the aloha-spirit. At least the gate was the cutest we had ever seen.

Hawaii island hopping vacation packages

For those visitors who don’t have the luxury of spending three weeks on the islands, like we did, day trips between Hawaiian islands are a great alternative .

Hawaii island hopping day trip by helicopter

Costco offers some really interesting deals on Hawaiian vacations. You can start from there and then add one or more day trips. It saves you the fuss of packing and planning and most importantly… it saves you precious Hawaiian vacation time!

Check out some this Pearl Harbour day trip from Maui or any of the other one day Hawaii island hopping packages at the  Viator  site.

Boating between Hawaiian islands

Hawaii ferry service.

The island hopping Hawaii ferry service is only available for travel between Hawaiian islands ferry ports in Maui and Lanai

Prior to researching our options for island hopping in Hawaii, we had expected there to be a passenger ferry. Unfortunately, there’s no actual ferry service between the islands in Hawaii anymore, except for the  Lanai – Maui ferry  (from/to Lahaina harbor). At the time of publishing this post, it operates five times daily. We can’t talk from personal experience but we do imagine the views from aboard the ferry to be very scenic.

Contrary to what you may read on other blogs, the Lanai – Molokai ferry is no longer in use since 2016 . The only way to island hop to Molokai is by air.

Hawaii island hopping cruise

UnCruise Safari Explorer for luxury transportation between hawaiian islands

The only real option to travel between Hawaiian islands by boat, is by booking a cruise. You can find several Hawaiian island hopping cruises at CruiseDirect or Expedia . Can I make a confession? We’ve never taken a cruise before. I do feel we would prefer prefer small-vessel cruises, comparable to low-key, boutique style hotels with personal service.

The  UnCruise Hawaiian Seascapes adventures , for example, really appeals to us. With a capacity of just 36 persons, this is the only Hawaii island hopping cruise we would consider.

Map overview of the inter-island transportation options

For your convenience, we’ve created this map showing the airports and ferry ports in Hawaii.

Which Hawaiian islands to visit and for how long

The Hawaiian archipelago consists of many islands but only six of those islands are inhabited.

Oahu: 4 days or more

Two girls exploring the coast of Honolulu

‘The Gathering Place’ is Hawaii’s most popular island and home to state capital Honolulu. Apart from the famous tourist sites, such as Waikiki beach and Pearl harbour, Oahu is actually surprisingly rural. But since many tourists are keen on exploring the island’s attractions, it can get quite busy. Its popular airport is the perfect place to start your Hawaii island hopping adventure.

The Oahu GoCity Card is the perfect travel companion. After all, with  100 things to do on Oahu , there are plenty of exciting sightseeing options. Visit Pearl Harbor , go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay , go waterfall hiking , hang out at the Dole Plantation , book a fishing charter from the Kewalo Basin harbor, take a Kailua Bay kayak tour , visit the Polynesian Cultural Center or go for adventure at the Kualoa Ranch . I really wish we had taken the time to experience more  outdoor adventures in Oahu .

Alohilani resort Waikiki beach rooftop is perfect for relaxing in between your Hawaii islands trip

If you want to explore the Honolulu area and you’re ready to book your attractions in advance, then we’d recommend to spend at least four days on Oahu . However, if you really want to discover what Oahu is all about then we would advise you to stay a bit longer, like we will next time.

We barely got to see the Honolulu highlights and shop for Hawaii gifts and souvenirs in the time that we spent on Oahu. Okay, I admit that we had a hard time leaving our superb  Alohilani resort  at Waikiki beach too but still….

Here are some suggestions on where to stay on Oahu during your Hawaii island hopping adventure:

For families: The Disney Aulani Resort & Spa or this beachfront Ko Olina villa .

Disney Aulani offers all inclusive Hawaii vacation packages

For couples: The  Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach or this well-appointed Waikiki condo .

Man on a floaty of the Alohilani inifinty pool in Waikiki

The Big Island of Hawaii: 7 days or more

Visiting the Big Island is a must when you travel between the Hawaii islands during your Hawaii island hopping trip

Often referred to as ‘Hawaii Island’, this island is all about purity and authenticity. This is the best Hawaiian island for families with a sense of adventure, nature-lovers and thrill-seekers. The landscape is incredibly diverse:

  • There are many active things to do on Big Island : You’ll find some of the  best hikes in Hawaii  in and around  Hawaii Volcanoes National Park  featuring the famous Kilauea volcano.
  • You’ll find the most gorgeous  scenery near Hilo .
  • The colorful  Big Island beaches  are mind-blowing, especially the rare  Papakolea green sand beach and high number of black sand beaches in Hawaii .
  • Its picture-perfect  Hawaii waterfalls  are often easily accessible. ‘Akaka Falls State Park and Wailuku River State Park ‘s Rainbow River are two such waterfalls that are located within easy reach.
  • Culture buffs will take pleasure in visiting the many cultural sites, such as Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park .
  • Go on a Manta Ray Night Dive , book a Mauna Kea star-gazing trip, take a helicopter tour  to see the lava flows or a snorkel, kayak and dolphin experience  at Kealakekua Bay.

On all Hawaiian islands you need a rental car to get around the island

This is the youngest island out of all six inhabited ones and also the biggest, almost twice the size of the other three vacation islands combined. Therefore, it is recommended to divide your time over the two inhabited coasts, the lush east coast (Hilo area) and the sunny west coast (Kona area) with its white beaches. Check out our article on  where to stay on the Big Island  to find your perfect spot.

You should at least spend a week on the Big Island to take in all its beauty. If you want to add a few days to relax too, as you should, then you’re looking at 10 days.

Here are some suggestions on where to stay on Big Island during your island hopping adventure:

For families: The  Four Seasons Resort Hualalai or this fabulous villa on the grounds of the Mauna Kea Resort .

Consider this villa with pool to stay at when booking trips to Hawaii

For couples: The gorgeous Holualoa Inn or this intimate cabin in the woods with its romantic firepit.

Fire pit in front of a modern cabin on Big Island

Maui: 7 days or more

This beautiful dormant volcano on Maui is just one of many highlights on a Hawaii island hopping adventure

‘The Valley Isle’ forms the perfect introduction to Hawaii. The island offers an excellent combination of gorgeous resorts, lush nature and the best beaches around. There are no cities, only some small towns so it never feels crowded (except when you’re driving the Road to Hana but that’s another story). Everyone will feel right at home in Maui.

  • Right at the popular Kaanapali beach strip you’ll find Black Rock , one of the best snorkeling spots on the island.
  • The list of Maui things to do is endless but the classics, such as water sports and hiking, are hard to beat. We’ve dedicated an entire article on the most spectacular  Maui hiking trails .
  • But also families with young children have plenty of options on the Valley Isle since it’s just as perfect for little adventures. Just check out our  ultimate list of things to do in Maui with kids .
  • With all this activity, you’d almost forget that the island also counts as a prime honeymoon destination. It’s home to some of the most romantic hotels in Maui .
  • See the sunrise at Haleakala  National Park (or opt for the  zip-lining  or  volcano bike tour  version), go on a whale-watch sail standard tour  or  whale-watch sail deluxe tour  with the Pacific Whale Foundation (or opt for the adventurous  whale-watching by kayak  version), watch a performance at the Old Lahaina luau , go on a Molokini crater snorkel trip , book your Waianapanapa State Park  access.

Two girls in rental car during island hopping in Hawaii vacation, learn how to travel between Hawaiian islands

So, whether you’re looking for romance, family fun of thrills, Maui is the place to be. Check out our article on  where to stay in Maui  to find your perfect spot. Since our stay was just a day or so too short to see all highlights (and to make a second attempt to drive the  Road to Hana ), we’d recommend you to spend a week on Maui .

Here are some suggestions on where to stay on Maui during your Hawaii island hopping adventure:

For families:  The Westin Maui Resort And Spa  with its awesome pools or this oceanfront Hyatt Residence Club condo .

When you plan a trip to Maui with kids then consider the Westin with its pool complex with slides

For couples: The Montage Kapalua Bay or this romantic cottage with private jacuzzi. .

Will you plan Hawaii vacation in a cute vacation cottage or a resort

Psst… We have a separate website entirely dedicated to  Maui accommodation . From fabulous  Maui hotels  to cozy  Maui condos , it’s a curated selection of the  best places to stay in Maui . All Maui regions and budget categories are represented. Plus, all accommodations are organized in bite-size lists. Check out some of our top articles:

  • Best family resorts in Maui
  • Best places to stay in Maui for couples
  • Cheap places to stay in Maui
  • Cottage rentals in Maui
  • Luxury vacation rentals in Maui
  • Best Maui vacation rentals for large groups
  • Maui hotels with water slides
  • Best vacation rentals in Wailea
  • Best condo rentals in Kihei
  • Best condo rentals in Kaanapali
  • Best places to stay in Hana
  • Beach condos in Maui
  • Beach house rentals in Maui
  • Best hotels in Kaanapali Beach

Kauai: 5 days or more

island hopper Hawaii article to learn how to travel Hawaiian islands

‘The Garden Isle’ is the one that got away… this time! We’re already making plans to return to Hawaii in a year or two and then this little gem will be the first we’ll visit. Kauai is the youngest of the Hawaiian islands but also the wettest one, especially in some areas. But that’s not all bad because the rain results in the most stunning scenery. Thanks to its unique climate, Kauai is often described as the most beautiful Hawaiian island. Do carefully consider where to stay on Kauai to find your place in the sun because some areas are wetter than others.

From what we’ve researched, this Hawaiian island has the same adventurous soul as the Big Island but is a bit less accessible. That was also the reason why we chose not to include it in our planning. This actually turned out to be a good decision because the island of Kauai suffered some severe flooding when we were in Hawaii (april 2018). Here’s a general overview of Kauai activities:

  • Take a  boat ride  along the jaw-dropping cliffs of  Na Pali Coast State Park .
  • Explore the quaint surfer’s town of Hanalei on the North shore.
  • Go river tubing on the grounds of an old sugar plantation.
  • Take an  airplane or helicopter tour above Waimea Canyon State Park  or, for a more active experience, try one of the spectacular  Waimea Canyon hikes .
  • Explore  Wailua River State Park  with its fern-lined grotto and sparkling waterfalls.
  • Go snorkelling in the Tunnels a.k.a. Makua Beach.
  • Explore the Kilohana plantation by train.
  • Discover the tropical flowers in the  Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden .

We feel that 5 days would be a minimum to spend on this beautiful island.

Here are some suggestions on where to stay on Oahu during your island hopping adventure:

For families: The  Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort  with its awesome pool complex or  this enchanting cottage near Poipu . .

The Grand Hyatt Kauai resort is one of the suggestions in this trip planner to Hawaii

For couples: The soon-to-open 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay (former St. Regis Princeville) or this condo with its stunning views .

Find out in this Hawaii vacation planner whether to book a resort or an amazing rental

Molokai and Lanai: 1 day each

The other two inhabited islands, Molokai and Lanai, may be great for day trips but also for visitors who have been to Hawaii numerous time and are ready to travel deeper and more off-grid. Or maybe for the unconventional tourist who’s looking for unspoilt beaches and rolling green hills untouched by tourism.

Suggested island hopping Hawaii itineraries for first time visitors

Island hopper Hawaii trip to Maui

10-day Hawaii itinerary

A two-island combination of either Oahu, Maui or Kauai would be ideal to explore the best of the chosen islands but it won’t allow much time for relaxation. We would personally suggest to start your 10-day Hawaii itinerary on Maui. It’s the perfect place to recover from a jetlag and very well-connected to the mainland which might save you a layover.

2-week Hawaii itinerary

Again, a combination of two of the above islands would be ideal because at this pace you’ll have plenty of time to spend to relax on one of the beautiful beaches. If you’re more of an active type, you could try and squeeze in a third smaller island (just not the Big Island) or book a  one-day island hopping package . Start in Maui and build up from there. Or, if you’re looking for a very active vacation, you could combine Big Island with Kauai for the ultimate outdoor experience in Hawaii.

3-week Hawaii itinerary

Three weeks is just enough time to combine the Big Island with two smaller islands, like we did. Or you can take spend your days on the three smaller islands at a slower pace. Whatever option you choose, after three weeks of island hopping in Hawaii you’ll have explored some pretty amazing places.

Best time to travel to Hawaii

The weather may also be a deciding factor in selecting the islands for your Hawaiian island hopping itinerary. After all, rainbows and waterfalls wouldn’t be there without the occasional shower. Each of the Hawaiian island boasts several climate zones, one more humid than the other. Hawaiian summer runs from May to October and has an average day temperature of 85° F (29.5° C). This is the second busiest time  on Hawaii so prices are quite a bit higher than in the off-season.

Hawaii island hoppers should know that, during the winter months of November to April, the average day temperature is 78° F (25.6° C). Tropical storm season typically runs from July through November. Peak season in Hawaii are the  winter holidays . If your calendar allows it, it would be better to avoid this busy time of year. It’ll be crowded, you’ll have to book some of the popular activities way ahead and  prices skyrocket . The winter months also  tend to be a bit rainier and the swells a bit bigger  which may exclude a handful of snorkeling spots.

Take the weather into account when booking a trip to the Hawaii islands

Also the trade winds are a big factor in Hawaiian weather. Coming from the north and east, these pick up moisture from the warm ocean waters and bring heavy rainfall to this side of the Hawaiian islands. That’s why these northeastern sides are called the windward sides. Now you know why you’ll find most of the lush nature and waterfalls on this side of the islands.

This picture was taken on the Road to Hana adventure which is clearly located on the windward side of Maui. We gave up after a while since it got too dangerous… Luckily, most Hawaiian resorts are located on the leeward side of the islands and the ocean temperatures are pleasant as always so you probably won’t notice too much of it.

When will you go island hopping in Hawaii?

If you made it to this point, then you might consider yourself an expert at how to travel between Hawaiian islands. 

It’s an ambitious adventure, especially when you’ve traveled over 35 hours to even get to Oahu like we did. Oh yes, we did: a 3 hour drive to Amsterdam, an 8,5 hour flight to Washington DC, waiting at immigration for 2,5 hours, a 16 hour stopover and a 10,5 hour flight to Honolulu. Was it worth it? Totally! Would we do it again? In a heartbeat because it was our most epic travel adventure so far. Can you see yourself as a Hawaii Island hopper too? Let us know in the comments!

Enjoy the Maui ocean and Kauai mountains during your Hawaii island-hopping trip

Author: Sarah


I’m off on my first visit to Hawaii in 24 days and I can’t wait! Just fitting in Oahu though!

How exciting, Holly! There’s so much we’re yet to explore on the island! And if you can fit it in, a Hawaii island hopping day trip by helicopter might allow you to see even more. Hope you’ll get to meet some turtles there too, just like you did in Belize!

Wow would absolutely love to do this. So informative too!

Thanks, Sima! It was an amazing trip but it does require a lot of research. So, I made the guide I wish I had to start the planning process. Hope you’ll need it someday to plan your family’s Hawaiian island hopping adventure.

This post really makes me want to go back to Hawaii! I went when I was a little kid and of course, didn’t appreciate it as much as I would today 🙂 Beautiful photos too!

Mission accomplished! 🙂 Hawaii was everything I thought it would be and more. It’s the kind of destination that never disappoints. And there’s so much we’re yet to explore. Always good to have a reason to return, right? Hope you get to travel to the Hawaii islands again in the future. Thanks for passing by, Monica!

We’ve been to Hawaii several times, but I’m always wanting to go back to explore a different island or even the same ones! Thanks for these helpful tips 🙂

Sounds very familiar. I don’t think I can ever get enough of Hawaii either. 🙂 Hope you get to island hop Hawaii again soon.

Wow, you covered EVERYTHING in this post! So helpful and detailed. My husband and I have been to Oahu solo, but are planning to take our toddler along next time. Bookmarking your post as our guide!

So glad you find this guide helpful, Lindsay. And how exciting that you’re planning a first family trip to Oahu! The same island but an entirely different experience ahead. Your family will have an awesome time island hopping in Hawaii!

Thank you Sarah!!

This looks like an amazing adventure. Great detailed blog post!

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island hopping trip hawaii

Everything You Need to Know About Hawaii Island Hopping

If you are thinking about visiting more than one hawaiian island during your trip, it’s very easy. scroll to find out everything you need to know about hawaii island hopping., this hawaii island hopping post was written by hawaii travel expert marcie cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, i may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog..

Have you ever dreamed about taking your family on vacation in Hawaii? Crystal blue water, magnificent sunsets over the ocean, your family all together making memories.

It sounds hard to beat, but Hawaii is a vacation destination that is only limited by your own creativity.

You can spend your entire time relaxing by the pool and sipping cocktails , but with the wide range of activities at your fingertips why would you want to limit your family’s experience?

Seeing as how Hawaii is made up of 8 major islands and more than 124 tiny islets, you and your family will likely want to spend some of your holiday exploring some of the diverse islands that make up the beautiful state of Hawaii.

You might be wondering, is it possible to island hop around Hawaii with a family in tow? How much will it cost to visit several Hawaiian islands? What kind of family adventures are available today in Hawaii? Are there Hawaii island hopping vacation packages?

Well look no further, the following information will provide you with everything you need to know about island hopping in Hawaii with kids.

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Hawaii Itineraries complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

island hopping trip hawaii

Hawaii Ferry Services Between Maui and Lanai

Lucky for you, there is a ferry service in and around the isles of Hawaii.  This service runs from the island of Maui. The ferry to Molokai was discontinued in 2021.

These affordable ferry services run between Maui and Lanai, making Lanai a perfect island destination if you and your family have booked accommodation on Maui.

Round trips with the ferries from Maui to Lanai are less than half the price of flights from Honolulu or Maui to Lanai.

If you are staying on Maui your family could travel return to Lanai for less than the price of flights for a family of four from Honolulu or Maui to Lanai. It’s the cheapest way to travel between these Hawaiian islands.

Keep scrolling to see the Hawaii ferry routes and read my detailed Lanai ferry review HERE .

Ferry From Maui to Lanai

The ferry from Lahaina, Maui leaves in front of the Pioneer Inn at the public loading dock.  The ferry departs at 6:45 am, 9:15 am, 12:45 pm, 3:15 pm, and 5:45 pm.

Image of the Maui to Lanai ferry

Leaving Manele, Lanai the ferry disembarks from the public loading docks at 8:00 am, 10:30 am, 2:00 pm, 4:30 pm, and 6:45 pm.

The journey takes approximately 1 hour and you can expect to see breathtaking views of the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe. On occasion, you might even see the Big Island from the ferry.

Nothing compares to the amazing chance to see Humpback whales from January to April during the crossing.

Tips for Hawaii Island Hopping featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Waves breaking on the cliffs near Lanai Lookout. | island hopping hawaii

Prices for each direction of the crossing are as follows: $30 Adults (ages 12+), $20 Children (kids under 12 years old), free for infants (under 2 years old), $25 Military (must have valid ID).

This means for a round-trip with 2 adults and 2 children you will pay $200, taxes included.

You can rest easy, knowing you and your family are safe on one of Expeditions ’ US Coast Guard certified vessels.

You can also do Lanai tours from Maui if you want an easy day trip.

Ferry From Maui to Molokai (discontinued)

There used to be a quick 90-minute ferry to bring you and your family from busy Maui to Molokai, “The Friendly Isle.”

Tips for Hawaii Island Hopping featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids.

The least developed of the 8 major Hawaiian Islands, Molokai is the perfect getaway for any family that wants to explore pristine beaches and mysterious jungles.

However, this ferry service was discontinued in 2021. The really confusing part is that the website is still active and makes it look like it’s still operating. This is not the case. There is no ferry from Maui to Molokai.

The only way to get from Maui to Molokai is with an inter-island flight.

island hopping trip hawaii

Hawaii Interisland Flights

The majority of island hopping around Hawaii takes place via the air.  What better way to see stunning aerial views of your favorite vacation destination?

If you’re staying on Oahu, then Lanai is an easy 35-minute flight from Honolulu airport to the public use airport on Lanai, just 3 miles from Lanai City.

Flying is also the best way to get from Oahu to the other main Hawaiian islands (Big Island, Maui, Kauai, Lanai, and Molokai.)

The cost to island hop in Hawaii totally varies on the time of year and which islands you are flying between. But traveling between Hawaiian islands has never been easier.

Let’s take a look at how to travel between Hawaiian islands via Hawaii interisland flights.

Hawaiian Airlines

If you’re staying on Oahu your options to travel to Lanai and Molokai island flights are limited to the flight services available on the islands.

Find out how to go island hopping in Hawaii with tips from top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of a Hawaiian Airlines airplane at Hilo Airport.

Fares with Hawaiian Airlines between Honolulu and Lanai City start from $550 return for a group of 4, making a one or two day trip to Lanai easily accessible without the long wait on the ferry.

Flights are $138 return per person Saturday to Wednesday and $143 return per person on Thursday and Friday. Prices are consistent year-round.

If you are flying from Maui, you will have a layover in Honolulu, making the journey time from Maui to Lanai by plane 1-hour 40-minutes.

Flights from Maui to Lanai range between $180 – $250 per person return. This puts return prices for a family of 4 over $700.

Find the latest rates and schedules for Hawaiian Airlines interisland flights

Mokulele Airlines

Mokulele Airlines operates over 120 flights between 7 Hawaii cities for Southern Airways Express every day.

Flights can be purchased from Honolulu, O‘ahu (HNL), Kahului, Maui (OGG), Kamuela, Hawai‘i (MUE), Kapalua, Maui (JHM), Kona, Hawai‘i (KOA), Hana, Maui (HNM), and Ho‘olehua, Moloka‘i (MKK).

Image of a 10-passenger airplane on the runway on Moloka'i.

Multiple departures range from early in the morning until the early evening.  Allowing ample ability to work around any family’s timetable.

Prices with Mokulele Airlines vary and there are often sales and special offers at any given time.  For this reason, it’s best to keep your eye on their website in the weeks leading up to your vacation.

By continually checking the website for offers you can make sure your family is getting the best deal.

It’s good to note that infants fly free when on the lap of a parent (a valid birth certificate will be required at check-in).

With Mokulele Airlines, children between the ages of 2-11 qualify for the Keiki Discount.  The Keiki Discount is 25% off their everyday low fares. This deal can make it the cheapest way to island hop in Hawaii with kids.

Mokulele Airlines always operate with two licensed pilots to ensure optimal safety for your family.

Get the latest rates and schedules for Mokulele Airlines

Southwest Airlines

The newest airline to start offering interisland Hawaii flights is Southwest Airlines.

Image of the wing of Southwest Airlines over the island of Oahu

What’s awesome about Southwest Airlines is that they won’t charge you a bag fee for your first two bags (or one bag and surfboard). Plus, there is no change fee if your plans change.

They also offer the cheapest interisland Hawaii flights right now.

Get the latest rates and schedules for Southwest Airlines Hawaii interisland flights

Where are the Airports in Hawaii?

The biggest airport in Hawaii is Honolulu International Airport . This is the airport where most flights from the Mainland U.S. and Asia fly into. Get my top tips for Honolulu Airport HERE .

Find out top Honolulu airport tips by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of a Hawaiian airlines plane at the gate at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

From here, visitors can head to Waikiki (about 8 miles away), Disney’s Aulani Resort (about 20 miles away), the North Shore (about 22 miles away), or Kailua (about 19 miles away.)

While there are 2 airports on the island, the most popular one is in Kahului . There are usually direct flights here from the West Coast of the U.S.

Image of the runways at Kahului Airport on Maui

From here, visitors can head to Ka’anapali (about 28 miles away,) Kapalua (about 34 miles away,) Kihei (about 10 miles away,) or Wailea (about 16 miles away.)

There’s also the Kapalua airport, which is less popular and usually more expensive than Kahului. But, if you are staying in Kapalua or Ka’anapali, it can save you a lot of time to fly into Kapalua airport.

The airport on Kauai is in Lihue, on Kauai’s east shore. There are usually direct flights here from the West Coast of the U.S. Read my full guide to the Lihue Airport HERE .

Find out everything you need to know about Lihue Airport on Kauai by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of the Lihue Airport sign

From here, visitors can head to Princeville (about 28 miles away,) Hanalei (about 30 miles away,) Kapaa (about 9 miles away,) or Poipu (about 13 miles away.)

There are two major airports on the Big Island: Kona and Hilo . There are often direct flights here from the West Coast of the U.S.

From Hilo Airport, visitors can head to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (about 29 miles away.)

From Kona Airport, visitors can head to Hilton Waikoloa Village (about 16 miles away.)

The Lanai airport is about 3 miles away from Lanai City. There are no direct flights here from the Mainland, so you’ll probably need to fly into Honolulu International Airport and take an interisland flight.

The Molokai airport is about 15 minutes from Kaunakakai and about 40 minutes from Maunaloa.

Tips for Hawaii Island Hopping featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Woman holding hibiscus flower in front of airplane window

There are no direct flights here from the Mainland, so you’ll probably need to fly into Honolulu International Airport or Kahului Airport and take an interisland flight. It’s super easy to do a Maui to Moloka’i day trip on Mokulele.

Hawaii Island Hopping Cruises

Another way to visit the 4 main islands (Oahu, Big Island, Kauai, and Maui) is by doing a Hawaii island hopping cruise.

Check out this honest Norwegian Hawaii cruise review by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of a cruise ship in the ocean.

For families who like to cruise, this is a great way to see several islands without having to move hotel rooms. And it’s a nice way to get a taste for each island.

The downside is that you often don’t have much time to really explore because you’re only off-ship for a set number of hours. And the cruise ports are usually a bit away from the tourist spots. So, you have to carefully choose what you’d like to do on each island.

Hawaii Island Hopping Adventures

Oahu is definitely the most populated Hawaiian island and it has the most activities, attractions, and adventures in Hawaii.

Find out how to get from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Oahu.

Some of the top things to do on Oahu include the Polynesian Cultural Center , Pearl Harbor , Waikiki Beach, hiking Diamond Head , and the Dole Plantation .

This is also where you’ll find Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa . Visitors can still enjoy the character breakfast or dinner or their signature luau without staying at the resort.

Find out the best things to do on Oahu

Maui is a top honeymoon and babymoon location, but it’s also a great family travel spot.

Image of a red surfboard that says Hana 6 miles with coconuts in the background

Some of the top things to do on Maui include driving the Road to Hana , seeing sunrise at Haleakala , hiking the Iao Needle , the Maui Ocean Center, and snorkeling at Molokini .

The most popular places to stay on Maui are Kapalua, Ka’anapali , Kihei , and Wailea .

Find out the best things to do on Maui

Known as “the Garden Island,” Kauai is often called the most beautiful Hawaiian island for its stunning beaches, coastline, and mountains. It’s popular for honeymoons and adventure travelers.

Image of a couple taking a selfie on a boat along the Na Pali Coast on Kauai

Some of the most popular things to do on Kauai include hiking the Na Pali coast, snorkeling on the North Shore, going tubing down a sugar cane canal , and doing a boat ride .

Most people stay down in Poipu , in Kapaa, or up in Hanalei /Princeville.

Find out the best things to do on Kauai

As the name implies, the Big Island is the largest Hawaiian island and so diverse, in terms of climate and landscape.

The Ultimate Guide to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Hawaii lava tourist. Tourists taking photo of flowing lava from Kilauea volcano around Hawaii volcanoes national park, USA.

Some of the top things to do on the Big Island are exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park , seeing heiau, checking out waterfalls , and doing an ATV tour .

Most visitors stay in Kona, where there are lots of resorts.

Find out the best things to do on the Big Island

Lanai is the smallest inhabited island of Hawaii, but that doesn’t mean there is any shortage of things to do.

Image of Sweetheart Rock on the island of Lanai.

On Lanai, you can take your family on a horseback ride through the jungle, snorkel in endless tidepools, or relax on 18 miles of secluded Hawaiian beaches.

If your family is feeling adventurous you can check out the 5 Top Breathtaking Hikes on the Island of Lanai.

Find out the best things to do on Lanai

Molokai is home to Hawaii’s longest continuous fringing reef, making a snorkel trip a complete essential.

View of Kalaupapa as mules ride up in Molokai

If you want to combine history and adventure take a guided mule trip along the planet’s highest sea cliffs.  After 2.9 miles of magnificent terrain, explore the ancient Kalaupapa National Historic Park.

Previously a fishing village, the historic settlement was once home to a community of exiled lepers in the 19th century.

If sticking to a budget is important to your family, consider staying at one of the island’s 9 budget-friendly hotels . And read my full Hotel Molokai review .

Find out the best things to do on Molokai

How Many Islands to Visit?

There is nothing worse than going on vacation only to return home more tired than when you left.

Your family holiday should be one where you can all relax and spend quality time together… or apart.  It’s important when booking your trip to not try to squeeze too much into your vacation.

Tips for Hawaii Island Hopping featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Hiking woman on Hawaii, Waihee ridge trail, Maui, USA. Young female hiker walking in beautiful lush Hawaiian forest nature landscape in mountains. Asian woman hiker wearing backpack looking at view.

If you are traveling to Hawaii for 5 days, consider doing a 1-day island excursion with a local guide. 

They will be able to take you and your family on an action-packed day that will still allow you and your family your much-needed downtime to relax beachside.

For vacations of about a week in Hawaii, consider spending a night or two on either the beautiful island of Lanai or Molokai. 

Both are particularly accessible from Maui and will give you and your family the feeling of adventure. And you will be able to incorporate some valuable family time on the untouched beaches of these tropical paradises.

If you and your family will be in Hawaii for over 10 days, consider visiting two of the more densely populated islands (the Big Island, Oahu, and Maui) and spending a quiet respite with your family on Lanai or Molokai. 

Or you could visit both Lanai and Molokai from your home base in Maui.

Island to island travel in Hawaii is pretty easy to do. There are lots of combinations for an amazing Hawaii island hopping adventure!

Check out my comparison posts of Maui vs Oahu , Oahu vs Kauai , Kauai vs Big Island , Kauai vs Maui , and Maui vs Big Island .

Which is the Cheapest Hawaiian Island to Visit?

I’d say Oahu is the cheapest island to visit because there are the most direct flights there and things on the island tend to be cheaper than other islands.

Because there are so many activities and attractions there, you’ll find plenty of cheap and free things to do on Oahu.

Check out 105 tips for doing Hawaii on a Budget

Is it Easy to Island Hop in Hawaii?

Yes, it’s really quick and easy to take an inter-island flight to a neighboring Hawaiian island.

As you plan your Hawaii vacation , keep in mind that you’ll be spending time getting to/from the airport and possibly renting/returning a rental car . This will take up part of your vacation.

Can You Travel to Niihau?

Kind of. Niihau is a private island and you need permission to visit.

However, you can take a boat ride from Kauai and snorkel off the coast of Niihau.

How Long Does it Take to Fly Between the Hawaiian Islands?

If you’re wondering how to get from island to island in Hawaii, here’s a breakdown of the flights between Hawaiian islands.

Hawaii Island Hopping From Oahu:

Hawaii island hopping from maui, hawaii island hopping from kauai, hawaii island hopping from kona, big island, hawaii island hopping from hilo, big island, hawaii island hopping from lanai, hawaii island hopping from molokai, island hopping in hawaii wrap up.

Island hopping Hawaii can be a lot of fun if you have enough time to really explore each island.

I recommend purchasing my Hawaii Island Hopping Guide with 1-3 day itineraries for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island, Lana’i, and Moloka’i.

We hope this article has helped you learn about the best ways to get around and see all that the beautiful islands of Hawaii have to offer without breaking your budget.

Need More Tips For Your Perfect Hawaiian Family Vacation?

Whatever you and your family decide, you can rest assured that your vacation will be an amazing adventure for your loved ones.

Hawaii Travel With Kids has all the answers and the best tips for planning your perfect Hawaiian Holiday with your family, including Hawaii island hopping!

Now that you know about flights between Hawaiian islands, find out what to do! Check out my top Maui luaus , best things to do on Kauai, and my travel guide to Kona !

Hawaii island hopping faqs.

There are dozens of daily flights between the islands and the prices vary greatly depending on the time of day. It can cost $50-$150 to go island hopping Hawaii.

No. There are no bridges. Travel between Hawaiian islands is limited to inter-island flights and limited ferries.

Yes, but only between Maui and Lanai.

Tips for Hawaii Island Hopping featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids.


Check out this Hawaii island hopping guide with Hawaii itineraries for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island, Lana'i, and Moloka'i by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids.



Guided by Destiny

Guided by Destiny

What are you waiting for?

2 Weeks in Hawaii: Your Ultimate Island Hopping Itinerary

Enjoying the beach at sunset during 2 weeks island hopping in Hawaii

This post contains affiliate links which means that I will make a small commission if you purchase a product after clicking on any of them, at no extra cost to you.

If you’re looking for the perfect getaway, 2 weeks in Hawaii is the answer! With its tropical climate, stunning beaches, and vibrant culture, it’s no surprise that Hawaii is a top vacation destination.

If you want to explore all that the Hawaiian islands have to offer, this itinerary will give you the perfect mix of adventure, relaxation, and exploration. I’ve put together the ultimate island hopping itinerary that will help you make the most of your 2 weeks in Hawaii.

Beautiful sunset in Kaneohe at Haleiwa Joes

Table of Contents

Planning your 2 weeks in Hawaii

The first question you are probably asking yourself is how do I decide which islands to visit and how long do I visit them each for? The truth is there is no right or wrong answer!

This suggested itinerary provides you with the opportunity to explore all four of the main islands. However, if you find yourself more attracted to one island over the others, don’t hesitate to curate your own personalized itinerary, or even add a few days to explore a specific area more thoroughly.

As I mentioned, Hawaii is made up of four main islands – Maui, Big Island, Oahu, and Kauai. Each island is unique and offers its own special attractions and experiences.

When planning your trip, it’s important to note that the average temperature in Hawaii ranges from 75°F – 85°F. Rainfall is most common during the winter months but there are plenty of sunny days year-round.

Make sure to book your accommodation and rental cars in advance as prices tend to be higher during peak season and holidays. I highly suggest a rental car on each island unless you want to stick to one area. Also, plan your activities accordingly as many popular attractions require advance reservations.

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe on Oahu

Day 1-3: Maui

Maui is the perfect place to start your Hawaiian adventure. This island is known for its stunning beaches, such as Kaanapali Beach and Wailea Beach, as well as its world-class golf courses and luxury resorts. But Maui is more than just a beach destination – it’s also home to the majestic Haleakala National Park, which features a 10,000-foot-tall volcano and the island’s highest peak.

Venus Pools in Maui on the Road to Hana

Where to stay in Maui

Lahaina , Kaanapali , and Kapalua are the most popular areas to stay in Maui, each area offering its own unique experience.

It’s hard to find cheap options in Maui, but if you book in the off-season, or the further in advance you book, you may have a better chance at snagging a deal. Some of the lower-priced options I found were Aston Kaanapali Shores , Royal Lahaina Resort & Bungalows , and Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas .

Hana-Maui Resort by Hyatt Residence seemed to have the most availability if you are waiting to book, but Heavenly Hana Paradise is a little more affordable and has excellent reviews! If you’re traveling with a small group, Hana Bay Oceanfront Elua Cottage is a 2-bedroom house that has the DREAMIEST views and design.

The only thing I would’ve changed if we were staying one more day is I would’ve liked to do one night in Hana so we could’ve taken our time even more with the Road to Hana. Hana is quite small, and there aren’t too many options for lodging so if you would like to do a night or two here be sure to book soon !

On your first day, take some time to relax and acclimate to island life. Head to do a tour and tasting at Ocean Vodka Organic Farm and Distillery . It’s just a short 15-minute drive from the airport. They have epic views and an amazing restaurant where each dish and cocktail incorporates fresh ingredients from their farm.

Delicious pizza from Ocean Vodka Farm

Another thing that is amazing about the farm and distillery is it sits atop a mountain and allows you to take in the most stunning, epic views while you enjoy your food and drink. Especially if you arrive on a weekend evening and don’t have dinner reservations anywhere, this is the perfect spot to head.

We checked in and relaxed after this because day 2 is a big one.

Ocean Vodka Distillery and Farm views

On the second day, wake up bright and early (4:30 am!) to take a scenic and adventurous ride along the Road to Hana which is famous for its winding roads and incredible views of rainforests and cascading waterfalls. There are 3 different route options, we went with the “reverse” Road to Hana which covers the entire route. If you choose this route as well it will take you the majority of the day.

My biggest piece of advice is to download the Shaka Guide app prior to hitting the road and purchase the tour for whichever route you decide you’re going to be taking. They actually have an app for each individual island, as well as Utah, Arizona , and Nevada !

Shaka Guide app

Having your own personal, local tour guide costs less than $20 and it was so helpful and informative! The app goes off of your GPS, and you can download it so it works offline. It tells you the best stops, and which ones you can maybe skip if you’re in a rush or getting tired.

Friends enjoying the Venus Pools, one of the most popular Road to Hana stops

At the end of the route stopping at Mama’s Fish House is a non-negotiable. They serve fresh locally caught seafood dishes and some of the most delicious tropical drinks. This place books up months in advance so be sure to make a reservation ASAP if possible. We were lucky enough to snag some bar seats when we went without a reservation.

For all of the details on which Road to Hana stops to make, what to order at Mama’s Fish House, and my favorite coffee shops in Maui read my full 3-day itinerary for Maui .

Mamas Fish House restaurant on Maui

Haleakala National Park offers amazing hikes and views of the crater, but we were, unfortunately, unable to get reservations for sunrise when we went. Definitely plan ahead and look into it for your trip! It can easily be squeezed in the morning on day 3. You can go after sunrise without a reservation, but we were also a little tired of driving from doing the Road to Hana.

If you are unable to get a reservation for Haleakala National Park start your morning with coffee from Badass Coffee and brunch at Down the Hatch in Lahaina. From there, experience some of the best snorkeling at Kapalua Bay.

Badass Coffee iced latte Maui

You’ll find a large coral reef teeming with fish and other marine life like turtles, eels, dolphins, and more! We saw SO MANY turtles it was insane! This was honestly the best place that I have ever snorkeled without having to take a boat.

Sea turtle relaxing on shore at Kapalua Bay

After working up quite the appetite from snorkeling all day we decided to head back to the hotel to get ready for a nice dinner and drinks. We went to Whalers Village which has plenty of options. Because it was a Sunday evening and we had no reservations we tried to go around happy hour time in hopes of fighting a little less of a crowd. Monkeypod and Hula Grill are both awesome options.

Mai Tai from Monkeypod

Day 3-7: Big Island

After three days on Maui, it’s time to head to the Big Island. The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most beautiful and diverse islands in the world. During your 4 days here, you’ll get a taste of everything that makes it so special. The Big Island is divided into two sides; Hilo, on the rainy side of the island, has a more tropical feel and Kona, on the dryer side of the island, has a more touristy feel.

I suggest spending 2 days in Hilo to start. Here you can explore waterfalls, lava tubes, and Volcanoes National Park. After that, spend the last half of your trip in Kona. Here you can relax with waterfront happy hours, go snorkeling, visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, and go night swimming with giant manta rays.

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park Big Island

Where to stay on the Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii offers a variety of accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets.

In Hilo, a couple of popular options for accommodations are the SCP Hilo Hotel and Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel . Both offer stunning ocean views, a variety of amenities, and are centrally located in the heart of Hilo. Check out all of the accommodation options for Hilo here.

In Kona, the Royal Kona Resort is a great choice for those looking for a beachfront hotel with a variety of amenities such as a pool, spa, and restaurants. Another popular option is the Kona Seaside Hotel , which offers comfortable rooms and easy access to the beach and the town’s many shops and restaurants.

For a more luxurious stay, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu is an excellent choice, it’s located in the north of the island and offers stunning ocean views, world-class amenities, and a variety of activities such as golf and tennis. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Kona just because we were able to book with points.

Check out all of the accommodation options for Kailua-Kona here though!

Big Island day 1

We flew Southwest from Maui to Kona on the Big Island and then drove to Hilo. We used points to book and it was insanely cheap (like 5,000 points cheap). Hilo does have its own airport, so if you can get a direct flight it may be worth looking into (we couldn’t). Once we landed we grabbed a bite in Kona because there were pretty much no food options on the route.

There’s a little area right inside Kona that has just about every type of food you could want. Hot chicken, poke, sushi, Kona Brewing, and more are there. We grabbed Willie’s Hot Chicken just to switch things up, but we ate in this area several more times once we came back to Kona and tried several of the restaurants.

Our Airbnb was in between Hilo and Volcanoes National Park, which worked out really well for us and our itinerary. On our first night, we arrived around 8 PM after our 2-hour drive. We were pretty pooped so we rested up for our first full day on the Big Island.

Big Island day 2

This day is not for the weak! We crammed so much into this day, I’m honestly shocked. Many of these mini-adventures are pretty close to one another as you’ll see, making it easy to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time!

Start with coffee and breakfast from Just Cruisin Coffee (I love a good Hawaiian coffee shop ).

For convenience’s sake, I am going to bullet point everything we did this day, but check out my 4-day Big Island itinerary post for more in-depth details for each activity!

  • Akaka Falls State Park — a short little paved trail (0.4 miles) and 30-minute adventure that leads you to Akaka Falls, a 442 ft waterfall.
  • Hilo Farmers Market — pop in to get some fresh fruit, they even cut it for you so you can eat it on your walk.
  • Rainbow Falls — an 80 ft waterfall that cascades over a lava tube and is all a part of Wailuku River State Park. This isn’t even a trail, you just pop out of your car and you’ll see an overlook and viewpoint of the falls.

Akaka Falls State Park waterfall

  • Boiling Pots and Pe’epe’e Falls — similar to Rainbow Falls it’s just a quick little stop and overlook. When we went the waterfall seemed a little dry, but I can imagine during rainier seasons it probably looks much cooler.
  • Kaumana Caves — explore a huge lava-tube cave that Mauna Loa created in 1881. It’s pretty insane! And another great thing to do on the Big Island for free.
  • Volcano Winery — stop here and snag a wine flight.
  • Thai Thai Bistro & Bar — get a quick lunch before heading into the park.

Boiling Pots in Hilo Big Island Hawaii

Now it’s finally time for Volcanoes National Park ! Again, all of the details for Big Island and Volcanoes National Park can be found here .

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park entry, a Big Island itinerary must

Big Island day 3

For the start of day 3 of your Big Island itinerary, you can either finish up whatever you couldn’t get to from yesterday’s road trip or just hit the road and start making your way to Kona.

Before the 2-hour drive, we made a pit stop at The Sippin Siren for some coffee and breakfast. It really hit the spot if you’re looking for an easy stop on the way out.

Once we got to Kona we kind of just explored a little and got our bearings. We checked out Ola Brew for one of their cider flights and then had some lunch at Umekes. I found their Kona gold pineapple and dragonfruit lemonade cider to be unique and delightful.

Umekes was SO good, and the seafood was so fresh that we had it TWICE during our time in Kona. Poke is a must-try food in Hawaii , and Umekes was easily some of the best poke I’ve had.

Cold brew from Sippin Siren

If you’re feeling the exhaustion from the day before sink in (so were we), don’t worry. This day is all about relaxing. We took a nice little nap in our suite before heading out to experience some local happy hours.

Huggo’s on the Rocks was our first stop. This waterfront spot had unbeatable views and a nice relaxing vibe. Oh, and did I forget to mention they have $6 happy hour mai tais? And they were good!

Next, we headed to Don’s Mai Tai Bar. It’s located inside the Royal Kona Resort. We got some coconut shrimp and a couple of $10 lava flows— pina coladas with an additional flavor of mango, strawberry, guava, or lilikoi! The perfect vacation drink.

Happy hour mai tais from Huggos on the Rocks

Big Island day 4

Wake up and get your morning started with an ube latte or cold brew from HICO Coffee . From here you can begin to make your way with your snorkel gear to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park .

We spent a little over an hour here, but you could easily spend more or less time depending on your itinerary and interest. There is parking here, and we just left our car parked here while we went to Two Step. It costs $20 per vehicle to enter the park, but again if you have the National Parks Pass it’s free!

Right next door to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park is Two Step . It’s a pretty popular snorkeling spot with hardly any sand, but that doesn’t stop visitors from setting up camp and laying out right on the lava rocks.

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park totems

If you’re hungry after this, Kona Brewing is an absolute must! They have great beers, and the food is so much more than your average pub fare. We did their roasted garlic and pizza rolls with homemade ranch, but everything from their wings to pizza looked and sounded amazing.

Now it’s time for one of the coolest experiences you can possibly have— swimming with giant manta rays ! Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to have this opportunity. While there are a few areas you can up your odds, off of the Kona Coast at night gives you the best chance.

This experience was truly so epic! Watching the manta rays do flips and tricks, and glide through the water is something you will never forget witnessing. I can assure you of that. Book your tour here !

Kona Brewery and Pub

Day 7-11: Oahu

After four days on the Big Island, it’s time to head to Oahu, the most populous island in the state and home to the capital city of Honolulu. Oahu is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Waikiki Beach and Kailua Beach, as well as its vibrant nightlife and cultural attractions.

I have been to Oahu 3 times, and spent a total of 2 1/2 months there, so it’s honestly a little hard to break this up by the day. Instead, I am going to break it up by area and give you some of my favorite things to do and places to eat in each and let you create your own adventure!

I will say I suggest breaking your trip up by staying on the North Shore for half of your time, and either Kailua or Honolulu for the other half.

Posing on a curved palm tree on a gloomy day at a beach on Oahu

Where to stay in Oahu

In Honolulu, you’ll find a wide variety of hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals to choose from. Some popular choices include the Royal Hawaiian , Moana Surfrider , and Sheraton Waikiki . For those looking for something more budget-friendly, the Holiday Inn Express that you stayed at is a great option, with its prime location, free breakfast, and fun rooftop games.

Another great option is the Ritz Carlton Waikiki , which offers stunning views of the ocean and the city. We stayed here a couple of years ago and we loved it!

Enjoying the infinity pool at one of the best places to stay in Waikiki, the Ritz Carlton Waikiki

The downfall to staying in Honolulu is most places have resort fees and parking charges additionally.

The North Shore is a great place to stay if you’re traveling with a group, as many rentals are houses that require longer stays. However, if you’re looking to stay on the North Shore as an individual, it can be more difficult to find a place to stay. Check out your options for Haleiwa town here .

Haleiwa Town surf shop North Shore Oahu

Kailua and Kaneohe don’t really have any hotel options either, but there are some accommodations. If you plan on staying here, be sure to book in advance because the options are so limited. Check out your options for Kailua and Kaneohe here for free cancellations on most bookings.

Lastly, if you’re interested in van life, it’s worth noting that it’s not technically allowed on some parts of the island and can come with some anxiety. However, it’s a great way to experience the island and can offer a unique and memorable experience.

Enjoying the sunset from van life on Oahu

North Shore

Oahu’s North Shore is known for its beautiful beaches, world-class surf spots, and laid-back atmosphere. The area offers a wide range of activities such as swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and hiking. The North Shore is also home to several historic sites, including the Polynesian Cultural Center, which offers a glimpse into Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage.

It is particularly famous for its massive winter waves, which attract surfers from all over the world to compete. Overall, the North Shore offers a unique blend of natural beauty, adventure, and culture.

Some of the best things to do on Oahu’s North Shore :

  • Toa Luau — There are tons and tons of luaus to choose from, and I researched a lot before deciding to go with  Toa Luau . They had great reviews and the price was good for what was included. You even get free admission to Waimea Valley!
  • Go cage diving with sharks — Nothing like waking up at the crack of dawn to go  cage diving with sharks , right? I have done this excursion twice when visiting Oahu, and the last time I went I finally got to experience  swimming with sharks without the cage  ( peep the video here )! It was absolutely terrifying, but I would do it again!

Two women in dresses with leis at a luau on North Shore

  • Cliff jumping at Waimea Bay — Even if you don’t want to cliff jump, you should still go to Waimea Bay.  This beach is absolutely breathtaking. The gold sand and blue waters are beyond epic! Not to mention it was much more chill than the beaches we visited around Waikiki.
  • Surf lesson — Taking surfing lessons is definitely one of the most epic things to do on the North Shore of Oahu.  This excursion  includes a 2-hour surf lesson where they provide your surfboard and other necessary equipment along with a free 15-minute basics practice before hitting the water and turtle tour.

Giant rock and cliff at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu

Some of the best restaurants on the North Shore :

  • Banzai Sushi — This is truly some of the best sushi I have ever had. I highly recommend the California tempura roll. I mean, the whole roll is deep-fried — need I say more? Aside from the food,  Banzai  has a unique atmosphere and offers traditional floor seating if you choose.
  • Kono’s North Shore — Konos  has several locations on the island (we actually visited them all, because we liked it that much!), so no matter where you are, you can most likely find their heavenly Kalua pig plates, breakfast bombers, and milkshakes.

Banzai Sushi Bar restaurant on Oahu's North Shore

  • Farm to Barn — Farm To Barn  is a healthy cafe located just a short distance from its own organic farm and serves cold-pressed juice and tasty, reasonably priced farm-to-table meals. Their acai bowls are amazing !
  • Food truck fare — Having at least one food truck experience while you’re on Oahu’s North Shore is a must! The  Aji Limo truck  is one of my faves.

Farm to Barn seating area in Haleiwa

Kailua and Kaneohe

These two towns are located on the windward side of Oahu. Kailua is a charming coastal town with a small-town feel, offering a variety of outdoor activities such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in the crystal clear waters of Kailua Bay. The town is also home to the serene and picturesque Lanikai Beach, which is often ranked as one of the best beaches in the world. It also has a bustling shopping and dining scene, with many local boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.

Kaneohe is a suburban town that is home to the largest freshwater marsh in Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, which is a popular spot for fishing and boating. Both Kailua and Kaneohe are relatively less crowded compared to other tourist hotspots on the island and offer a more laid-back and authentic Hawaiian experience.

Mountain ranges at Botanical Garden in Kaneohe

Some of the best things to do in Kailua and Kaneohe

  • Lanikai Pillbox hike — This is one of the best hikes on Oahu, and I honestly think it’s one I will do every time I visit. The best time to do the  Lanikai Pillbox hike  is at sunrise. It’s absolutely magical.
  • Kayak at Kailua Bay — Kayaking around the beautiful beaches is easily one of the best things to do in Kailua. With  Kailua Beach Adventures  you can choose between a guided or self-guided tour that takes you on a half-day eco-adventure.
  • Snorkel at the Kaneohe Sandbar — Kaneohe Sandbar is an excellent spot for swimming and snorkeling, however, it’s tricky to get there without your own boat. That’s where  Captain Bruce Private Yacht Charters  comes in!

Views at the top of Lani Kai pillbox hike at sunrise near Kailua in Oahu

  • Byodo-In Temple — The  Byodo-In Temple  in Oahu is a smaller-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-In Temple in Uji, Japan. Admission is only $5, and you can even call ahead to reserve a guided tour if it interests you.
  • Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden — Once you’re done at the Byodo-In Temple, you may as well head 20 minutes south to check out the  Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden . Naturalists will especially enjoy this location— it truly makes you feel like you’re in paradise.

Byodo In Temple in Kaneohe Oahu

Some of the best restaurants in Kailua and Kaneohe

  • Haleiwa Joe’s — Haleiwa Joe’s  is hands down the best restaurant experience you will have on Oahu. The views are breathtaking, the food is immaculate, and the drinks set a gold standard. We went here several, and I can’t wait to experience this place again when I go back.
  • Taqueria El Gallo Rosa — Taqueria El Gallo Rosa  had some of the best tacos I found on the island! I enjoyed their pork carnitas and Baja fish tacos, and both were bursting with flavor!

Views from best restaurant in kaneohe Haleiwa Joe's

  • Kailua Town Pub and Grill — I love the casual atmosphere of  Kailua Pub , and the prices are extremely reasonable. They have seafood, pizza, soups, sandwiches, and other general pub fares.
  • Boardroom — The Boardroom uses freshly chosen, pressed, and prepared items that are locally sourced and handcrafted. The creative and delicious libations served here are enough to keep you hanging out all night long but don’t leave without sampling something from their tapas menu.

Outdoor patio dining at The Boardroom


Waikiki and Honolulu are two popular tourist destinations located on the south shore of the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Waikiki is a neighborhood within the city of Honolulu, known for its beautiful beaches, world-class hotels, and vibrant nightlife. The area is a popular destination for tourists from around the world, partially because it is home to the iconic Waikiki Beach.

Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is a bustling and cosmopolitan city, offering a mix of urban and natural attractions. The city is known for its rich cultural heritage, as well as its modern amenities. Visitors can experience the city’s history at sites like the Iolani Palace and the USS Arizona Memorial, or take a stroll through the historic neighborhoods of Chinatown and Kakaako.

Tantalus Lookout views of Honolulu lit up at night

Some of the best things to do in Honolulu/Waikiki:

  • Watch the sunset at Tantalus — Tantalus Lookout  may just be my favorite free thing to do in Oahu ! If you are looking for the perfect place to enjoy the sunset on Oahu with minimal effort, this is it. Take in stunning views of the Waikiki skyline and Diamond Head volcano cone from this scenic overlook.
  • Check out the fireworks in Waikiki — You don’t need to wait for the Fourth of July to see fireworks in Hawaii! Every Friday the  Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort  showcases a spectacular firework show free to the public.
  • Diamond Head — Diamond Head is probably the most photographed attraction in Hawaii. Hiking to the summit of this saucer-shaped crater is one of the most famed activities on the island and it offers the most astounding views of Waikiki.

Fireworks in Waikiki on Oahu, best free things to do

  • Whale watching tour — Out of all the time I have spent in Oahu I have unfortunately never been here for whale season! If you are here during this time I highly recommend doing a whale-watching excursion .
  • Lively sunset cruise — The sunset cruises out of Waikiki are so much fun! This cruise has a DJ and dance floor. Or you can go on a cruise that has an open bar . If you want more adventure, there is an awesome daytime snorkel cruise to Turtle Canyon as well.

Best friends posing on a boat with drinks in the air on a booze cruise in Waikiki

Some of the best restaurants in Honolulu/Waikiki:

  • Dukes — Dukes is a popular restaurant known for its beautiful oceanfront setting and classic Hawaiian cuisine. The menu features fresh seafood and local ingredients, as well as classic dishes such as poke bowls and Hawaiian-style BBQ. It’s a great spot for a romantic dinner or a casual lunch with a view.
  • The Surfing Pig — This trendy gastropub in the heart of Waikiki serves up delicious comfort food with a Hawaiian twist. The menu features a variety of dishes that are perfect for sharing, including their famous pork sliders, poke nachos, and truffle fries.
  • 53 by the Sea — This upscale seafood restaurant located in the heart of Honolulu is known for its stunning ocean views and modern seafood-centric menu. The menu features creative dishes such as lobster risotto and sous-vide fish. It’s a great spot for a special occasion or a romantic dinner. (Peep my TikTok here.)

Amazing eggs benedict from The Surfing Pig restaurant in Honolulu

  • Moku Kitchen — This farm-to-table restaurant located in Kakaako serves up delicious and locally-sourced cuisine with a Pacific Rim twist. They have a great happy hour, and some of the best mai tais on the island!
  • Red Fish Poke — Red Fish Poke serves up delicious poke bowls made with fresh, locally-sourced seafood. They have a variety of bowls to choose from, as well as build-your-own options. This was my second favorite poke bowl spot from our entire 2 weeks in Hawaii! (Umekes on Big Island was my first.)

Merrimans mai tai with lilikoi foam

Day 11-14: Kauai

Your final stop on this two-week Hawaiian adventure is Kauai, the “Garden Island” of Hawaii. This island is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Poipu Beach and Hanalei Bay, as well as its stunning natural beauty, including the Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast.

Kauai is known for its rugged cliffs and lush jungles. One popular attraction is Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” You can also visit the Napali Coast, a stretch of sea cliffs that can be seen by boat or by hiking the Kalalau Trail. The Fern Grotto is also a must-see, it’s a natural lava cave surrounded by lush vegetation.

Na Pali Coast in Kauai

Where to stay in Kauai

If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Kauai, I highly recommend the Kauai Shores Hotel . I stayed there during my 3-day trip and found it to be perfect. The hotel is located right on the beach, just minutes away from some of the most beautiful and popular attractions on the island. It’s also conveniently located in the middle of the island in Kapaa, making it easy to explore all the different areas of Kauai.

At Kauai Shores Hotel, you’ll get all the perks you expect from a top-notch hotel, such as free Wi-Fi and a comfortable pool area. But that’s not all – they also offer free bikes to explore the island, morning yoga classes, and an amazing onsite restaurant: Lava Lava Beach Club. It’s one of the few places in Kauai that offers everything you need for an amazing vacation. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an exciting adventure, Kauai Shores Hotel is the perfect place to stay.

Kauai Shores Hotel in Kauai

Day 1 in Kauai

Pack plenty of snacks to bring with you on this adventurous day! Start your Kauai adventure by taking a thrilling raft tour with Go Blue Adventures ! You’ll explore the Na Pali Coast by zipping through caves and waterfalls while appreciating the view from the ocean. This was one of my favorite activities from our 2 weeks in Hawaii!

Check out my Hawaii packing list recommendations !

I recommend doing the 7 am tour so you can get your day started bright and early! The excursion is 5 hours and includes some time for snorkeling and snacks. We were able to jump off of the raft multiple times and encountered dolphins, tropical fish, and sea turtles. The tour guides are absolutely hilarious and full of knowledge and fun facts!

If there’s one thing you absolutely have to have on your Kauai 3-day itinerary, it’s gotta be this.

Go Blue Adventures raft tour in Kauai

After the raft tour, you may be a little bit beat, but I recommend taking some time to explore Waimea Valley (it’s right in the same area). This stunning valley is home to some of Kauai’s most beautiful natural scenery, exciting hikes, and historical sites.

You can spend several hours here doing hikes and hitting all of the stops along the way, or you can spend less time and just do a driving tour stopping at lookouts. I highly recommend downloading the Shaka Guide app which is super helpful for anyone looking for an adventure-filled day here.

Viewpoint at Waimea Valley in Kauai

Now it’s time to go relax at Lava Lava Beach Club for an unbeatable oceanfront dining experience. This tropical beachfront restaurant serves fresh seafood and a selection of delicious cocktails. We loved it so much we ate here a few times!

After dinner, rest up! You have another big day ahead of you tomorrow 🙂

Flatbread and edamame from Lava Lava Beach Club in Kauai

Day 2 in Kauai

For day two you will be embarking on another little road trip. This time you’re off to explore Kaui’s North Shore! The north shore of Kauai is a sight to behold. With its lush greenery, beautiful beaches, and amazing waterfalls, it’s no wonder that this is a popular tourist destination.

Grab Java Kai for some coffee and breakfast before your explorations. Here are some spots you will want to be sure to check out during your mini road trip:

  • Hanalei Valley Lookout — this picturesque spot offers stunning views of the magnificent Hanalei Valley.
  • Waiʻoli Huiʻia Church —this historic church is the oldest functioning church in Kauai and dates back to 1834.

Coffee drinks from Java Kai coffee shop in Kapaa

  • Tunnels Beach — a well-known beach noted for its world-class snorkeling and beauty. The beach has a safe inner reef that is great for beginners and kids and a challenging outer reef for more experienced snorkelers.
  • Hanalei Town — go shopping and grab lunch at Hanalei Poke
  • Queen’s Bath — a lava rock-enclosed tidal pool perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and exploring marine life. Make sure you’re wearing your bathing suit if you plan on swimming because there aren’t any facilities to change in. There is a short but steep hike down to the pool (about 0.5 miles).

Beautiful waters and golden sand at Tunnels Beach on the North Shore of Kauai

Once you’re done adventuring get ready for a lovely surf and turf at Oasis on the Beach . It’s located beachfront at the Waipouli Beach Resort and offers a variety of delicious dishes and wonderful service. To give you the greatest and freshest ingredients, they work directly with Kauai’s farmers, ranchers, and fishermen and source over 90% of their ingredients locally.

For more specifics on each spot be sure to check out my full Kauai 3-day itinerary !

Couple smiling at dinner at Oasis on the Beach

Day 3 in Kauai

If you are staying at Kauai Shores Hotel , start your final day in Kauai by waking up bright and early (7 am) to grab one of their free bike rentals to explore Kapaa. The Kapaa bike path goes along the beach for several miles.

Once you’re done riding make your way to Kauai Coffee Company. For my coffee lovers out there, visiting Kauai Coffee Company is a must for your Kauai 3-day itinerary! It’s one of the largest coffee producers in the United States and is the perfect place to learn about the coffee industry and sample a variety of different coffees from the region.

Next stop at the Makauwahi Cave Reserve, a living museum dedicated to both preserving the past and native species conservation. As Hawaii’s largest limestone cave, it is also home to the richest fossil site in the islands, as well as a uniquely preserved archaeological site. You will need to do a short self-guided trail that is less than 0.5 miles to get to the cave.

Entrance to Kauai Coffee Company

For lunch, you gotta enjoy one last poke bowl before your trip is up! The Fish Express serves Hawaiian plates and fresh Hawaiian fish lunches, but their specialty is poke bowls and their topping bar with a full-service seafood counter.

After you have a nice foundation make your way to Kōloa Rum Company , the first licensed distillery on the island of Kauai.

The rum tasting is free but it is a first-come, first-serve experience so it’s best to get there early to secure a spot. During the tasting, you’ll have the chance to sample a variety of flavored rums including coconut, lime, and pineapple.

We had an evening flight and we were able to squeeze all of these activities in before making our way back to the mainland!

Poke bowl from the Fish Express in Kauai

Traveling between the islands

Another important aspect of planning your trip is transportation. The easiest way to travel between the islands is by plane, which takes about 30 minutes to an hour. There are many flights daily between the main airports, so it’s easy to find a schedule that works for you.

The main airports for inter-island travel are Honolulu International Airport (Oahu), Kahului Airport (Maui), Lihue Airport (Kauai), and Kona International Airport (Big Island). When booking flights, keep in mind that the flight between islands can take about 30 minutes to an hour, so you’ll want to schedule enough time for that as well.

There are two popular airlines that offer flights between Hawaiian islands, Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines. I personally prefer flying with Southwest, as I am a Southwest cardholder and usually book my tickets with points. The Southwest Rapid Rewards program offers many perks, like complimentary checked bags and points towards free flights, making the airline the perfect option for island hopping in Hawaii.

Southwest flight to Kauai

That’s it – your 2-week Hawaiian adventure is complete! With this itinerary, you’ll get to experience the best that each island has to offer, from the stunning beaches and natural beauty to the rich culture and history of the Hawaiian Islands.

Check out some of my other Hawaii posts and my Hawaii Insta guide before you go!

two weeks in Hawaii island hopping

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I have been to Hawaii twice, but over 20 years ago. It’s changed! You’ve inspired me to get back. Your pictures are amazing!

Yay! Definitely would say it’s worth a trip back!

I’d love to visit Hawaii one day! I always wondered how long I’d need, but two weeks seems perfect to really get a taste of each island. Looks magical

Yes, definitely could’ve done longer to get more of each island, but to get a good feel for each 2 weeks was a decent amount of time!

Wow! Thank you for such an informative article on Hawaii island hopping. We are hoping to make our way there soon and this guide was so helpful.

That’s so exciting! You’re going to have a blast, glad to help!

I’ll definitely come back to this when I begin planning a Hawaii trip. It sounds as though it deserves a full two weeks and plans for a little island hopping.

Wow, your photos are amazing! Hawaii is so high up my list and I would love to spend two weeks, especially as it’s so far from the UK! Will definitely be saving this for when I finally get to visit!

This trip sounds like so much fun! I’ve been to Oahu a few times but it’s time I explored new islands, especially the Big Island and Kauai.

Wow! Thank you so much for creating this awesome itinerary. I also love all these beautiful photos.

This is an excellent, detailed guide. I am going to use it as a reference for any future Hawaii adventures! Thank you!

Wow this guide is PACKED with great information. I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii, and I’ll definitely be referencing this post when I start my planning!

Thank you for this super informative post! I‘lol definitely revisit it before my next trip to Hawaii!

Great info Destiny!

Wow this is a really great guide!! Hawaii’s always been on my bucket list so I’ll be bookmarking this for when I start planning 💙

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island hopping trip hawaii

island hopping trip hawaii

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Hawaii Inter-Island Hopping Packages

Make the most out of your vacation and try an inter-island hopping package! These guided tours allow you to visit a variety of exciting destinations all in one day. Prices include airfare! We’ll book and coordinate your flights and tour on Oahu for a worry-free trip.

Is it expensive to island hop in Hawaii? Here's how to save money and fly between islands.

island hopping trip hawaii

If you're flying to Hawaii, the most remote archipelago in the world, why limit your trip to just one island? Enter: island hopping. 

Of the eight main Hawaiian islands – out of a total of 137 – people are allowed to visit six of them:

  • Hawaii Island

"Travelers like to explore the diversity of the islands; I suggest selecting two that offer a nice contrast to each other for a more fulfilling experience," Bruce Fisher, owner and travel planner for Hawaii Aloha Travel , said.

Each island offers its own distinct vibe and activities. Oahu has the bustling city energy, while Kauai and Hawaii Island run at a more relaxed pace.

Here's everything you need to know about island hopping in Hawaii. 

Illegal hikers in Hawaii  may have to pay for their own rescues, after many are saved from this popular hike

One more taste of Hawaii: Hawaiian Airlines first class menu highlights award-winning chef \

How can you travel between the Hawaiian islands?

Unless you're on a cruise touring the Hawaiian islands, the main mode of transportation between islands is by commercial airplane. (There is a ferry between Lanai and Maui, which costs adults $30 for one way.) 

Flight times between the islands are relatively short – usually less than an hour and sometimes as quick as 34 minutes,  such as the Honolulu, Oahu, to Lihue, Kauai, route. Most are direct too, except for the route between Lihue and Hilo on Hawaii Island, which requires a stop in Honolulu.

Flights are plenty between the four main island airports:

  • Hawaii Island (Kona International Airport and Hilo International Airport).
  • Kauai (Lihue Airport).
  • Maui (Kahului Airport is the main airport, although there is also Hana Airport).
  • Oahu (Honolulu International Airport).

Starting from around 5 or 6 a.m., interisland flights are scheduled at least every hour until the last flight, at around 8 or 9 p.m. on either Hawaiian Airlines or Southwest Airlines. 

•Hawaiian Airlines offers the most flights – 18 routes with an average of 170 daily flights between the islands. Hawaiian also "eliminated fees to change tickets on any route in their network, making it a very flexible option for travelers," according to a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson. 

•Southwest has five interisland routes with up to 60 flights a day, Southwest Airlines spokesperson Brad Hawkins said. Out of Honolulu, 29 of its 40 daily departures are to neighboring islands. 

Out of the six islands you can visit, Lanai and Molokai aren't as accessible and are not flown to by Hawaiian and Southwest. They also don't fly to Hana Airport, a smaller airport located in east Maui. For those routes, Mokulele Airlines , run by Southern Airways Express, is your only option unless you want to book a private charter. Mokulele flies to Honolulu, Lihue, Molokai, Kahului, Hana, Kona and Lanai.

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When is it cheapest to fly between islands?

Generally, the cheapest flights tend to be the ones early in the morning or the last flight out on Hawaiian and Southwest, Fisher said.

The Oahu-Maui combo is the most popular among Fisher's clients. Here is the cost breakdown for a Honolulu to Kahului flight for Tuesday, April 11, on Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines on their lowest classes, as of March 15: 

Hawaiian Airlines, for the main cabin:

  • Morning: $44 for the first four flights, departing between 5:45 and 7:40 a.m.
  • Midday: $44-$129.
  • Evening: $44, departing from 1:30 p.m. until the last flight at 8:59 p.m.

Southwest Airlines, for a Wanna Get Away ticket:

  • Morning: $39 for the first three flights, departing between 6:15 and 9:15 a.m.
  • Midday $39-$44.
  • Evening: $39, departing from 2:40 p.m. until the last flight at 8:20 p.m.

It's also usually cheaper to fly on a weekday than a weekend, although it's typically not a big difference. For example, on Hawaiian, the same flight as explored above goes for $64 on Friday, April 14, and $54 on Saturday, April 15. On Southwest, it ranges from $64 to $69 and $54 to $59, respectively, for a Wanna Get Away ticket. 

Unfortunately, Mokulele flights tend to cost more than Hawaiian or Southwest. That same one-way Honolulu to Kahului route on April 14 costs between $116 to $193. A one-way from Honolulu to Lanai on the same day is between $68 to $128. 

Do you need a rental car to island hop for t he day?

It depends on what you want to do.

"We get a lot of folks that just want to come to Oahu for the day to see Pearl Harbor but in which case we recommend flying over and just Uber to Pearl Harbor," Fisher said. "We also get a lot of people that want to go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for the day and for that we do recommend a car but doing an island hop for the day can be expensive."

As of March 15, renting a compact car with Enterprise , located at Kahului Airport, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 14, is estimated at $48 a day. For the same day, on Oahu, it estimates $51. On Hawaii Island, a compact car with Budget Car Rental is about $54.

If you don't want to rent a car, consider what island you're going to. Oahu has the most transportation options  and the most reliable public transportation system compared to the other islands. Uber on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island is more expensive and less available. 

Can you eat history?: This Maui hotel gardener uses plants to educate guests on Maui's culture.

A better way to move: Save on your Hawaii vacation by booking cheaper, more sustainable options to a rental car

Another option is looking into booking an excursion with a tour company that could pick you up and drop you back off at the airport. For one family going to Oahu, Hawaii Island, Kauai and Maui over the course of 10 days, Fisher booked a half-circle island tour on Oahu with airport pickup for about $199 per person. 

What should you keep in mind before island hopping?

Before you book multiple flights, there are a few things to keep in mind. "(A lot of people) think they can just hop around at will!" Fisher said. "Trying to do four islands in five days is just being way too over-ambitious."

With everything the islands each have to offer, Fisher said that the "general rule of thumb is to spend at least three to four nights on each island, so if you only have six or fewer nights, don't attempt to visit all the islands."

Here are some tips to help you plan interisland travel in Hawaii:

  • Although flight times are quick, island hopping still takes time, especially if you're going for just the day. Remember, you have to get to the airport (and maybe encounter rush hour traffic on the way there), go through security, and board and deplane. Be sure to factor those delays into your itinerary. 
  • If you are staying overnight, remember that hotel check-in typically begins at 3 p.m., so unless you want to kill time, you may prefer to select a later flight.
  • Consider what activities you want to do and their distance from the airport, especially if you're there for a day trip. Getting to your destination from the airport could take up most of your time there. A big excursion, such as the entire Road to Hana, would be tricky to pull off during a day trip to Maui. It usually takes at least eight hours to navigate the winding road and take in all the scenery, including stops. This also isn't something you'd want to rush or partially check out. 
  • Bonus tip: Be strategic about your seat selection so you get the most out of your island hopping experience. Choose the port side (left) for outbound from Honolulu and starboard (right) for inbound flights so you can enjoy the bird's-eye view of the islands' stunning landscape.

More like this: 

  • Don't be that tourist: Here's how to respectfully visit Hawaii, have an authentic trip
  • Take it from Hawaii locals: You won't regret these 8 activities when you visit the islands
  • Save on your Hawaii vacation by booking cheaper,  more sustainable options to a rental car
  • Getaway: This little-known beach town in Hawaii is the perfect getaway. Here's a day-by-day weekend guide.
  • Can I go to Diamond Head without a reservation?  Why bookings might be the future in Hawaii
  • Listen up, tourists: Hawaii locals share what they wish visitors would stop doing

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected]

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Latest reviews of Inter-Island Day Trips

Smooth cruise. Saw spinner dolphins. Very nice beach close to port.

Pearl Harbor Visit

My husband and I were so excited to see Pearl Harbor. The flight from Lihue to Oahu was perfect! We boarded the tour bus earlier than the time our email said (we were told between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. but she arrived at ... more 8:40 a.m. This was not a problem for us because we were there, but there was a couple who was not there when she left. She had to meet up with them in downtown Honolulu. She took us on a City Tour (which we were not expecting). The first part of the tour was great, but then, she dropped us off at Waikiki Beach for shopping and hanging out at the beach for 2 HOURS! We did not want to go to the beach, nor did the other people on the tour bus. She did not ask us; she just took us there and dropped us off. Because we were at the beach for that long, we were shorted our time at Pearl Harbor - especially the USS Missouri. We got there and she told us that we should get our lunch from the food truck right away because they closed at 2 p.m. - in was 12:50 p.m. when we arrived there. So, we got and ate our lunch which took about 20 minutes. We had to be back on the tour bus by 2 p.m. to head over the the USS Arizona as we had 2:30 p.m. tickets for that. We did not want to miss any more, so of course, we were on time. We could not tour the entire USS Missouri ship because we did not have enough time. And, over by the USS Arizona (not the boat ride and view of the actual memorial, but the other things to read and the movie - we did not have time to do. We had to be back on the bus by 4 p.m. This was supposed to be a day for Pearl Harbor, but it did not feel like that. We were so very disappointed that we could not view the entire ship and we do not feel that we got the full experience. Our tour bus driver was very nice but she should not have dropped us off at the beach/shopping for that long and take away the time we had for what we paid for and were hoping to see.

Great Excursion

The highlight of our trip. The ride over, while lengthy due to the fires in Lahaina, was great. The captain was funny, his name was Turtle. We saw dolphins and the snorkeling on Lanai was awesome. The trip was worth the ... more cost, without even taking in to consideration the great lunch we were served. That chicken is amazing. You also get to visit a pretty exclusive beach, it’s shared with the Four Seasons Lanai, that is nice because your group is almost all the only people out there. Next trip we will definitely do this, or a trip to Molokini Crater. Either way, we will definitely use Trilogy again. They are fantastic.

More than Hoped For!

Our trip to Lana’i was amazing! It was an early morning to catch the first ferry of the day. Plenty of seating, plenty of room for our bags. We were off to Lana’i. Greeted at the docks by our guide, Russ. He went a ... more bove and beyond. We had bottled water and pastries waiting for us. We hit shipwreck beach, Garden if the gods, and the Cat Sanctuary. Which is what I expected, but we also had great photo spots, local history and stories. Got to see the beautiful Lanai City. Tour even allowed us time to walk the city, have lunch, do a little shopping. Lastly we got dropped off at the beach, which was the icing on the cake. Beautiful, quiet, safe beach. Great snorkeling. Great tide pool to relax in. I hate leaving a great review because the whole experience was so wonderful, I don’t want to spoil it. But, because of days like this one, I have so much love and respect for this island and its people. This day was my dream come true. I look forward to returning to the island of Lana’i. Thank you is not enough. Blessings to this island and its people.

Russ was a great tour guide, went above & beyond for us.

The ferry ride from Maui to Lanai was great. Our tour guide, Russ, met us as we disembarked from the ferry. He provided a great deal of information as he drove us to the different sights on Lanai. After lunch, he dropped ... more us off at the Lanai Cat Sanctuary. We spent a full two hours at the sanctuary interacting with all of the different felines. As a cat lover, I was in heaven. It's very heart-warming to see people making a difference in the lives of the feline and bird populations of Lanai. Russ, then picked us up and returned us to the ferry for our return trip back to Maui. It was a long day (saw the sunrise & sunset) but worth it.

Peaceful day on Lana‘i Island

Our guide Russ showed us the Island of Lana‘i, gave us an overall impression and was telling interesting stories. There was always time for photos, time for questions and time for personal needs. The afternoon we spent ... more at the beach which was very peaceful.

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Island Hopping in Hawaii: Planning an Epic 10-Day Hawaii Itinerary

last Updated: February 10, 2023 hawaii kauai maui oahu

FYI: Affiliate links may be sprinkled throughout the awesome, free content you see below. I’ll receive a small commission when you purchase from my links (at no extra cost to you), which I’ll totally blow on adult things like boba tea and avocado toast. As always, thanks for the support.

Looking for waves to surf, sunsets to chase, and oh so juicy pineapple to snack on? Check out this 10 Day Hawaii island hopping itinerary – you’ll find all that and more. 

We just never seem to get enough of Hawaii. Over the last few years we’ve taken trips to Maui , Oahu , and Kauai , over long weekends and short breaks (we love being so much closer now that we live in California).

A bunch of years back we flew to Hawaii for a whirlwind of a 10-day trip, and just couldn’t get enough! There’s something about the aloha spirit that just keeps bringing us back to our happy place. 

10 days in Hawaii - A COMPLETE guide to planning your perfect Hawaii itinerary!

We’re literally always planning our next trip back to the islands, so I even made myself an epic Hawaiian bucket list with over 200 beaches, activities, and places to eat!

And Hawaii has it all – spectacular beaches, impressive underwater sea life (so many turtles!), stunning sea caves, enough hiking for days, and stunning green peaks nonchalantly jetting outta the coastline.

It also has active volcanoes (with red-hot lava sightings on a daily basis), funky surf towns, shave ice/fresh fish/hula pie, and enough beach time to last a lifetime. In general, Hawaii is an attack on the senses (in the best way possible).

island hopping trip hawaii

In this Hawaiian island hopping guide I’ll be sharing with you my favorite highlights of each island, as well as Hawaii itinerary ideas to get your planning started! Just promise you’ll bring me back a malasada (or two or three…).

Read Next → The Ultimate Hawaii Bucket List (with over 200 things to do!)

Hawaii Island Hopping Logistics

When to visit hawaii .

In all honesty, there’s never a bad time to visit the Hawaiian islands (we are talking about paradise after all). The best time to go highly depends on the type of experience you want to have.

However, in general, you’ll find warm weather on all the islands all year (78 degrees to 88 degrees, being the warmest in the summer months of July-August), with it’s biggest variables being rain and surfing conditions.

We’ve visited in all seasons and all had their positives/negatives. 

island hopping trip hawaii

Winter will bring larger swells (November to March), making it a desirable time to visit for those looking to surf, as well as the best whale watching opportunities (during the months of February and March).

Technically, the rainy season in Hawaii is from November to March, although you’ll still find many clear, sunny days. And when it rains in Hawaii, it typically does so in short bursts and hardly ever lasting all day.

Summer brings understandably warmer ocean water (making it more comfortable for snorkeling, swimming, and other water sports), but the air can be hot and super humid (yuck!), so it just depends which you prefer.

island hopping trip hawaii

How to Get Around the Hawaiian Islands

Flying : If you plan to island hop in Hawaii, you’ll find that flying is the only way to travel from island to island. Thankfully, flights are short, plentiful (with dozens of flights each day), and typically only last an hour (or less) each way.

I always opt for a window seat, as the views are full of islands and reefs (swoon).

Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, and recently Southwest are the primary airlines which fly between the islands. Inter-island flights will cost you around $100-$150, which will hopefully get cheaper now that airlines are competing with the newest addition of Southwest.

Heading off to Hawaii and looking for the perfect Kauai itinerary? Good choice! Read on for the ultimate way to spend 3 days in Kauai!

Try and score non-stop flights by booking early, but if you can’t (happened to me!), choose short connections. You’ll see that most flights make a stop in Honolulu (Oahu), so attempt to keep this time to a minimum. You don’t wanna waste precious beach time waiting for a flight! Book early on in your Hawaii island hopping planning and you’ll hopefully be able to snag a non-stop flight.

Ferries : At this time, there is no major ferry system connecting the Hawaiian islands. Wouldn’t it be nice?! Passenger ferries in the past exited, but there are currently only two ferry routes still running.

  • Between Maui (Lahaina) and the nearby island of Molokai aboard the Molokai Ferry (taking 90 minutes or so
  • Between Maui (Lahaina) and Lanai (Manele Bay) via the Maui-Lanai Expeditions Ferry (taking approximately 45 minutes)

island hopping trip hawaii

Cruise Ship : For those looking to see a whole bunch of the Hawaiian islands without the hectic schedule of flying every few days, consider a cruise! Plus, you’ll only have to unpack once!

Cruises typically leave from either San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, or Honolulu. And you’ll have your pick of cruise line as many sail between these islands – Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Crystal, and Norwegian, with the latter having the only big ship based there at this time.

How To Save Some Money When Booking a Trip to Hawaii

I get it, I really do! Hawaii can get pretty expensive, pretty fast! And if you’re looking to spend a decent amount of time island hopping (say 10 days in Hawaii or longer), the costs can really add up. A few tips:

  • Fly into/out of Hawaii mid-week, as this is when you’re more likely to find a less expensive flight
  • Visit during late March – mid July (with the exception of the last week in April – Japan’s Golden Week aka peak travel time), and later in the year from September to mid-December (minus the week of Thanksgiving). You’ll likely find discounted room rates (with highest possible change of free upgrades) and cheapie car rentals!

island hopping trip hawaii

Now, let’s get this Hawaii island hopping adventure underway!

Planning a Hawaii Island Hopping Itinerary

Unlike other itineraries on my site (hello  Greece , Bali , Thailand , etc), it’s unfortunately extremely hard to give you detailed day-by-day plans for a Hawaii itinerary. There’s just oh SO much to do on each of the islands, with 4 main ones total.

So instead, I’m breaking down the highlights for you to pick and choose from on each main Hawaiian island. Think of it as more like a DIY itinerary. And just know that you can never go wrong in Hawaii (you really can’t).

island hopping trip hawaii

On my other itineraries, I always aim to include all the typical tourist spots and highlights (hey, they’re popular for a reason, right?!). However, there isn’t just one main Hawaiian island- they’re all equal and downright stunning in their own way.

I’d say the majority of people visit Oahu and Maui , but make that decision for yourself (after reading through all the possibilities given on this Hawaii itinerary inspiration post of course). We have a soft spot for Kauai , and are aching to finally make it to The Big Island of Hawaii itself.

How Many Islands to Visit

With 10 days in Hawaii, you can either visit 2 or 3 islands, it just depends on the type of trip you want. With a trip to 3 islands, you can obviously see more of the island chain, but it’ll be a rather fast paced itinerary without tons of time to relax.

By only visiting 2 islands, you can plan out more carefree days, spending ample time at the beach and taking it slow. My suggestion? 3 islands, especially if you don’t know if/when you’ll be back to Hawaii. 

However, if you have 2 weeks in Hawaii and don’t mind running around from island to island, you can squeeze in all 4 main Hawaiian islands. Just know it’ll be hectic as hell, but a very, very good time.

How to choose which islands to visit 

I feel your pain – choosing which islands to visit is one of the hardest decisions to make when planning any Hawaii itinerary (without it being a logistical nightmare). They’re all so worthy of your time!

With the Na Pali coast of Kauai , Road to Hana on Maui , Volcanoes National Park on The Big Island , and Honolulu/Pearl Harbor in Oahu , how can you possibly leave one (or two) out?! I get it, I really, really do.

And besides those 4 main islands, there’s also Lanai and Molokai , as well as 2 others not accessible to visitors, making for a total of 8 Hawaiian islands! Who knew?!

island hopping trip hawaii

If this is your first time to the islands, how do you even begin to decide which Hawaiian islands to visit? The islands are all so varied – some being more rustic and rugged, while others have a more glitz and glam aspect to it.

On all you’ll find scenic hiking trails, underwater adventures, famous surfing spots, and hidden waterfalls. Thankfully, there’s no wrong answer. You could just toss a coin and you’d have an amazing trip.

Not sure where to start at all? Look for flight deals. Since Oahu has the only international airport in all of Hawaii (Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International, airport code HLN), you’ll most likely find the cheapest flights here from the mainland. Because of this, it’s wise to start/end your trip in Oahu before/after you’re done island hopping in Hawaii.

However, with that being said, there are more and more non-stop flights to Maui these days, special thanks to Southwest’s new routes. If you’re able to find an inexpensive flight to Maui, snag that right up (as they don’t come often).

I always use Skyscanner and Google Flights when searching for airfare, and love the option to get email notifications when the price drops.

Sample 10 day Hawaii itineraries: 

I get it, it’s hard to narrow down which islands you want to visit. Close your eyes and picture yourself in Hawaii – what do you see? Adventure? Relaxation? Cultural experiences? Romance and luxury? A bit of everything?

I’ve narrowed it down to three types of trips: one for the first-timer’s typical Hawaiian experience, one for those who are looking for a bit of privacy and romance, and one for adventure junkies.

The Typical Hawaiian Experience: Get into the Aloha spirit on Maui, Oahu, and Kauai (if time allows)

Visiting Hawaii for the first time and looking for an exceptionally varied itinerary of things to do? Not scared of island hopping around Hawaii in record breaking time?

All three islands are probably best to do with a timeframe of 2 weeks, but if you’re like me and don’t mind cramming in activities, 10 days in Hawaii will be sufficient. Plan your days wisely, wake up early, and understand you won’t have much time for relaxing on the beach.

island hopping trip hawaii

On Maui, plan to wake up early to see the sunrise at Haleakala National Park , drive the curvy Road to Hana , go whale watching (in the winter months), snorkel at Molokini and Turtle Town , and relax at the idyllic golden-sandy beaches of Napili Bay and Kaanapali Beach. 

While on Oahu you can choose from hanging out in Honolulu and Waikiki, paying your respects at Pearl Harbor, hiking up Diamond Head, relaxing on Lanikai Beach, and/or snorkeling at Hanauma Bay (my favorite).

On Kauai, your time will revolve around the rugged Na Pali coastline, with a helicopter ride to see it from above, a snorkel tour to see it from water, and hiking the first few miles of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail (no permit required for this section).

For the Honeymooners: Romance in Kauai, Maui, and Lanai

Hawaii is the epitome of romance. With its abundance of spectacular sunsets, private swimming holes, lush rainforests, and exotic, tropical beaches, I can see why so many honeymooners choose Hawaii as their first trip as husband and wife.

As newlyweds, you probably don’t wanna run amongst the families and young kids. Plan your Hawaii island hopping adventure to include lots of private beach time, hiking to secluded and not-as-popular waterfalls, splurge on private excursions (sunset boat ride, anyone?), and opt for that couples massage on the beach you so want and deserve (planning a wedding is hard work, ya’ll).

island hopping trip hawaii

Plan to avoid Oahu (Honolulu and Waikiki are way over crowded with tourists), and the cities over on the Big Island. 

Romance on Kauai: What’s more romantic than a thrilling experience up in the air? Opt for a private helicopter tour, and you’re more than likely gonna get lucky later on. Sure, this is one pricey excursion, but Kauai’s the place to do it! Be sure to stay on the North Shore (the stunning Princeville Resort’s got my vote), as you’ll find these beaches less packed and easier to find your own private beach spots.

Romance on Maui: For a more beachy, less big-city vibe, be sure to add Maui to your Hawaii island hopping itinerary. Maui’s a great mixture of culture, postcard perfect honeymoon beaches, serpentine coastal drives, and food. Don’t miss celebrating Polynesian culture with your sweetie, singing songs and telling stories of old Hawaii.  

Romance on Lanai: If you want the ultimate honeymoon luxury (privacy, of course), make sure to include tiny Lanai into your Hawaii itinerary. It’ll definitely feel secluded – with only one resort on the entire island, you can be sure you won’t run into mobs and mobs of unwanted tourists.

For Adventure Lovers : Go crazy in Kauai and the Big Island

If adventures the name of your game, a 10 day Hawaii itinerary split between Kauai and the Big Island will really get your adrenaline rushing.

On Kauai, plan to hike the 11-mile Kalalau Trail (if you’re one of the lucky ones to secure a permit), soar above the Na Pali coastline via helicopter ride, try your hand at surfing at Hanalei Bay, kayak down the Wailua River, windsurf at ʻAnini Beach, hike into the colorful Waimea Canyon, and/or go stand-up paddling in the Hanalei River.

island hopping trip hawaii

On the Big Island, active volcano trekking is the main reason why we’re headed here. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you can hike next to active lava, explore lava tubes, and bike next to scalding hot steam vents. Talk about adventure. Fill the rest of your days by snorkeling with manta rays, spelunking in Kula Kai Caverns, and hiking to waterfalls in Waipio Valley.

Things to do during your 10 days in Hawaii

General things to do in hawaii:.

  • Eat all the fresh fruit: eat as much fresh fruit as humanly possible (it just tastes sweeter over here). And yes, this includes coconuts, mango, papaya, and dragonfruit. We love going to road-side farm stands before any long drives to pick up some fruits.

island hopping trip hawaii

  • Take a helicopter ride: Preferably over the Na Pali coast of Kauai (the scenery on Maui’s a close second). There’s nothing like getting a bird’s eye view of the towering mountains, jagged coastline, and turquoise reefs.
  • Attend a luau with traditional dances and a pig roast over a spit fire (the most famous are the Old Lahaina Luau and Feast at Lele in Maui)

island hopping trip hawaii

  • Go snorkeling with sea turtles : Tons of sea turtles can be found in the Hawaiian reefs, most common being the green sea turtle (honus) and hawksbill. Some sites you can snorkel right off the beach, while others you’ll need to join a group boat tour. We’ve been snorkeling in Maui tons of times, and have seen sea turtles almost every time!
  • Play Golf: There are some world-famous courses on the islands, including Poipu Bay and Puakea on Kauai and Kaanapali and Wailea Golf Club on Maui,  although Oahu and The Big Island have some notable courses as well. 
  • Try your hand at surfing: With year round waves, there’s never a bad time to go surfing in these waters. Do note the surf gets much more difficult in the winter months, so if you’re a beginner, best to learn in the summer when the swells are smaller.
  • Relax at the beach/pool with a mai tai in hand (this is Hawaii afterall)!

island hopping trip hawaii

  • Whale watching : If you’re visiting the Hawaiian islands during the winter months of November to April, you’re in for a treat – humpback whales, gray whales, and others are frequently seen! 

Highlights on Maui: “The Valley Isle”

We love Maui the most. We just do. The beaches are some of the best in the world, and we always find ourselves choosing Maui when given a choice of which to visit (we don’t discriminate – we love them all, but there’s just something special about Maui).

1. The Heavenly Road to Hana: The Road to Hana, one of the most famous highways in the country, is a drive you’ll never forget and one of the most anticipated activities for those visiting Maui. But just for the record, the goal isn’t to make it to Hana in a flash, it’s to enjoy all the sites along the way .

There’s roadside waterfalls to gawk at, pineapple smoothies to slurp up, native plants to admire (including the very special Rainbow Eucalyptus), exposed rocky coastline, and fresh, fresh banana bread to snack on.

Plan to spend a bit of time at Wai’anapanapa, one of the black sand beaches on the island, and right along the Road to Hana. And those 7 sacred pools and the Pipiwai Stream Trail through a bamboo forest towards the end of the drive is absolutely spectacular.

island hopping trip hawaii

2. Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach : Dramatic black-sand beaches. Large, secluded sea caves. Volcanic tubes and spouting blowholes. Coastal hiking trails. Even if you aren’t driving the entire Road to Hana, you’ve gotta plan at least a half-day checking out this unique black-sand beach full of smooth black pebbles. 

3. Snorkeling at Molokini and Turtle Town: If you wanna admire the underwater world of Maui , plan to do so at both Molokini (a crescent-shaped partially submerged volcanic crater) and Turtle Town (where turtles are known to hang out). You’ll need a boat to get to these spots, so it’s wise to join a group snorkeling tour, either on catamaran or speed boat.

The visibility is absolutely spectacular (up to 150 feet below the surface), and there’s around 250 species of endemic fish in the area (including pink tail durgons, black triggerfish, butterfly fish, red pencil urchins, yellow tangs, etc). A kaleidoscope of coral awaits!

island hopping trip hawaii

4. Sunrise at Haleakala National Park: Wake up early, because what’s better than watching the sunrise from atop a volcano ?  It’s a long drive up (and you’ll need to make a reservation), but being above the clouds (literally), is like no other. 

Imagine watching the sunrise above clouds from an active volcano. Mystical. Intoxifying. Other-wordly. Exactly my point. Haleakala does in fact mean “house of the sun”, so you can be positive that view will be worth waking your butt up for. Make sure to take along your warmest colds, as it’s quite chilly up here at 9,740 feet. 

island hopping trip hawaii

5. Old Lahaina Luau/Feast at Lele : I mean, can you really visit Hawaii and not attend a luau! We loved our time at the Feast at Lele, sipping liquid aloha, scarfing down multiple plates of food, and admiring the traditional dancers. All in all, a very worthy way to spend an evening in Oahu.

6. Kaanapali Beach: With 3 miles of white sand and crystal clear water, it’s no wonder Kaanapali was once named America’s best beach. Enough said. And since it’s oh so close to Black Rock, there’s some pretty excellent snorkeling right off the shore here!

7. Surf Town of Paia : This funky little surf town on the North Shore is full of cute little boutiques, great restaurants, and natural food stores. Great to wander around for an afternoon or so!

8. Napili Bay : Although it’s kinda hidden behind a residential area, this place is wildly popular! Our beach of choice whenever we visit Maui. Psst – don’t miss the fried rice and white chocolate macadamia nut pancakes at The Gazebo Restaurant nearby!

island hopping trip hawaii

9. Iao Valley State Park : When you’re tired of sunning, check out this lush valley in West Maui. Tons of fantastic hiking through the tropical flora of Hawaii and great views of the Iao Needle and other emerald peaks.

10. Lahaina Banyan Court : As soon as you head under the Banyan Tree, you’ll be wowed that it is in fact just one tree, it is the largest banyan tree in all of the USA afterall, spanning almost 2 acres and rising more than 60 feet. Pretty incredible if you ask me.

Check out how to spend the perfect 5 days in Maui here. 

Where to Stay in Maui

On Maui, you’ll find a wide range of accommodations, including high-end fancy schmancy resorts (with multiple pools and restaurants on site), trendy, boutique hotels, the cutest bed and breakfasts you’ve ever seen, and apartment and condo rentals. 

West Maui (Kaanapali and Lahaina):  This side of the island boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, in my opinion. However, there’s not much nightlife as things close kinda early.

Recommended hotels:

  • Aston Kaanapali Shores (absolutely loved the pool and garden area),
  • Kaanapali Beach Hotel (fantastic budget option super close to famous Black Rock beach)
  • The Westin Maui Resort + Spa
  • Hyatt Regency Maui
  • Sheraton Maui Resort + Spa

Kihei : If you’re looking for chilled out bliss, stay over here in south Maui. Kihei is more of a local’s beach town, so you’ll find less tourists and more peace and quiet for the most part.

  • Maui Coast Hotel
  • Nona Lani Cottages
  • Maui Beach Vacation Club (condo rentals)

Wailea : Known for its massive five star resort destinations (which often come with a hefty price tag), yet more laid-back than lively Lahaina and Kaanapali. If you’re looking for a more quiet and luxurious upscale place to stay, choose Wailea.

  • Hotel Wailea (Adults Only)
  • Four Seasons Resort
  • Grand Wailea

Where to Eat in Maui: Be sure to grab some garlic shrimp from the Geste Shrimp Truck, a Hawaiian mixed plate from yup – Aloha Mixed Plate, and shave ice from Ululani’s.

Other notable dining spots we enjoy include Leilani’s at the Beach, Lahaina Grill, Kula Lodge (after watching the sunrise at Haleakala), Aunty Sandy’s (great for snacks along the Road to Hana), and the Gazebo restaurant for some white chocolate mac nut pancakes and fried rice.

island hopping trip hawaii

As mentioned above, The Old Lahaina Luau and Feast at Lele are the most famous luau’s in all of the Hawaiian islands, so be sure to attend one!

And whatever you do, DO NOT LEAVE MAUI without having a meal at Mama’s Fish House (reservations most definitely needed). The menu changes depending on what fish have been caught that day (one of my favorite meals in not only all of Hawaii, but the world. Yup, world).

Highlights on Oahu: “The Gathering Place”

Oahu boasts the infamous Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, and the state capital of Honolulu, making it a great escape for those wanting a good mix of city and beach break. Since most of the state’s visitors live in Honolulu, Oahu will feel a bit more crowded than other islands. It’s got entertainment and amenities of the 21st century, while still holding that Hawaiian charm.

1. Waikiki Beach : One of the most famous beaches in all of Hawaii, and for good reason! 2 miles of soft, white sand, alongside the highrises and backed by palms, make up one of the busiest and most cosmopolitan areas on Oahu. There’s parasailing, boogie boarding, surfing, canoeing, and lots of people watching over here!

island hopping trip hawaii

2. Hanging out in Honolulu : Can’t come all the way to the islands and miss out on the capital of Hawaii! Honolulu is the biggest city in all of Hawaii, and is known for the the ever-so-popular Waikiki neighborhood, historic landmarks, Diamond Head, mai tai drink, world-class surfing, Hawaiian luaus, and its location as a military fortress.

3. Turtle Beach “Laniakea Beach” : If snorkeling isn’t your thang, you can thankfully still see some of these gentle giants on shore just basking in the sun here at Laniakea Beach on Oahu’s North Shore. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles have been frequenting these sands for decades, so do your part and respect them and their land. It’s illegal to chase, injure, hunt, touch, hold, or harass them in any way.

4. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: Imagine snorkeling in an aquarium – that’s what it feels like over at Hanauma Bay! This pristine and protected marine ecosystem (former volcanic crater) is full of beautiful coral reef, loads of tropical fish, and other sea life. You may even spot a harmless reef shark if you’re lucky!

island hopping trip hawaii

5. Hiking Diamond Head: This unusually shaped area is one of the most unique natural structures you’ll come across while Hawaii island hopping, as the land appears to look like a giant crater.

This formation occurs due to Diamond Head being a volcanic tuff cone and dormant volcano, which has resulted in the one-of-a-kind, 150,000 year old structure. Hike across the rocky pathways to the peak, and you’ll be rewarded by a plethora of mesmerizing views. 

6. Pillbox Hike: While not one of the longest trails, the Pillbox hike may be one of the prettiest and historic on this Hawaii itinerary. During your trek you’ll stumble upon 2 aging military bunkers, and witness a stunning panoramic view of Lanikai Beach.

Be prepared for some climbing, and I hope your sense of direction is good – we attempted this hike and for some reason couldn’t even figure out which trail we should be on!

7. Stuff your face silly with Malasadas: there’s no better place on the island for these Portuguese donuts. Just take my word for it and go. You’ll thank me later.

island hopping trip hawaii

8. Lanikai Beach: If you looked up the definition of a white-sand beach, the first thing that would pop up is a photo of Lanikai! Bleached sand, translucent waters, picturesque palm trees – it’s one of those places perfectly crafted for postcards.

Change into your swimsuit and spend the afternoon dozing on the coast, or taming your adventurous side with kayaking and scuba diving, just don’t forget your sunscreen!

9. Waimea Bay Beach Park: While Hawaii island hopping, you’ll find it difficult to locate a better place to surf than Waimea Bay. Found on the north side of Oahu, this scenic coastline has calm, clear waves perfectly suited for beginner surfers. If surfing isn’t your strong suit, you’ll easily find the ideal spot to kick back and relax on this vast beach. 

10. Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail: Hidden behind a series of twisting, rugged cliffs, you’ll find a tiny, quaint lighthouse facing the ocean. You’ll have to hike the twisting trail upwards first, but I can guarantee the sights are worth the time.  

11. Dole Plantation: This pineapple plantation is easily one of my favorite places on this entire Hawaii itinerary, and that’s not just because I’m a big lover of some juicy fruit.

There is no chance of being bored here, with train rides, garden tours, and endless food available (don’t miss out on the fresh dole whip!). There’s even a pineapple maze. Yes, you heard that right, a giant pineapple maze with pineapple shaped hedges!

island hopping trip hawaii

12. Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial: Pearl Harbour is a key aspect in American history, and there is no way you can spend 10 days in Hawaii without visiting this memorable monument.

Acting as the resting place for over 1000 sailors, this somber monument commemorates the lives lost during the heart-breaking Pearl Harbor attack, and is sure to bring a tear to your eye. 

Where to Stay on Oahu

Oahu is made up of 5 distinct districts, all with their own unique features and varying weather. I recommend staying in either Leeward Coast, Windward Coast, or Waikiki. 

Waikiki :  If you want to be in a busy area and with endless excitement, the popular Waikiki is definitely where you should be staying.

Recommended hotels: Aqua Skyline (tallest hotel in Waikiki), the Royal Hawaiian Resort (luxury, 5-star hotel), and Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel (stunning views of the ocean).  

Leeward Coast: Found on the western coast of Oahu, you are going to find sunnier and drier weather than other parts of the island. If you’re looking to sunbathe and improve your tan, this is the place for you.

Recommended hotels: Royal West Indies Resort (close proximity to the wind-sand beach), and Sumerset (found right next to grace bay).  

Windward Coast: Located on the eastern side of Oahu, this scenic area is a much greener and wetter option. If you’re looking for vast waters and fruitful plantlife, this is the ideal place to stay.

Recommended hotels: Paradise Bay Resort (beautiful views of the Koolau mountains and Kaneohe bay), Pagoda Hotel (affordable hotel in the heart of Honolulu), and the Pacific Marina Inn (close proximity to the airport). 

Highlights on Kauai: “The Garden Isle”

Kauai is known as the most rugged and robust of all the Hawaiin islands, a perfect escapade for those wanting a little extra adventure. With a multitude of heavenly beaches, from the stunning Na Pali coast to the never-ending Hanalei Bay, many feel like this is the most beautiful of the Hawaiin islands.

Kauai just has it all: vast, crystal-clear waters, majestic waterfalls within magical lagoons, towering trees in tropical forests. With such a dramatic level of natural beauty, it’s not hard to understand why this quaint island is so special.

island hopping trip hawaii

1. Poipu: With remarkable views straight out of a postcard, and warm sand between your toes, the breath-taking Poipu Beach is not one to be missed.

Unwind beneath the feathery leaves of the bushy palm trees, or subdue your thrill-seeking side with surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Not only a beach, but a town along the south shore of Kauai filled with high-end hotels, resorts, and a main shopping center.

2. Na Pali Coast: Absolutely nothing compares to the jaw-dropping beauty of the Na Pali coast, found on the western side of Kauai. You’ll never be short of things to do at this serene beach: unmissable opportunities to snorkel and kayak in the crystalline ocean, hiking the famous Kalalau Trail with the most spectacular views, and sky-high helicopter rides across the entirety of Kauai.

If you can only stomach a single helicopter ride while in Hawaii, Kauai and it’s gorgeous overhead shots should be a top contender for sure.

island hopping trip hawaii

3. Take a dip in Queens bath: Dip your toes into this unique tidepool and bathe like a queen (see what I did there?). This picturesque natural sinkhole is surrounded by indiginous rock, and is a wonderful scenic location to relax and enjoy the ocean view. Watch your step as you hop in, as the waves are known to become quite strong, so be sure to be careful. 

4. Waimea Canyon: At 14 miles long and 1 mile wide, this jaw-dropping natural wonder will leave you breathless. Found in the south western area of Kauai, Waimea Canyon is nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, and it’s not hard to see why.

You have the option to either hike or drive towards the impressive canyon, but mind your step as you wander around this awe-inspiring, 3600m deep valley. Take my advice, don’t look down!

island hopping trip hawaii

5. Tunnels Beach: Kauai is not short on golden beaches, but the magnificent Tunnels beach is not one you can pass out if you’re spending 10 days in Hawaii. Change into your swimsuit and spend an afternoon breathing in the sweet sea-salt breeze and lounging around at this spectacular sandy coastline. 

6. Kilauea Lighthouse: Wander up to Kilauea Point you’ll spot Kilauea lighthouse perched upon a charmingly scenic cliff, where it stands tall and overlooks the vast pacific ocean.

Lose track of time admiring the most stunning panoramic views of Kauai, and keep an eye out for the tropical birds that reside in the area. Make sure to have a firm grip on any food, as some shearwaters and petrels may fly down to try and steal a cheeky snack!

island hopping trip hawaii

7. Hanalei Bay: Calm and warm waters. Scenic swaying palm trees. Unforgettable views of the picturesque Na Pali mountains. Body surfing, boogie boarding, and kayaking. Beach bums and beach buns. Hanalei Bay will captivate you with its undeniable beauty and abundance of things to do, and is a must-visit location on your Hawaii itinerary.

8. Princeville: On the north shore of Kauai, Princeville is a thriving 9000 acre community full of luxury resorts and beautiful white-sand beaches. From botanical gardens and chocolate tasting, to hiking and waterfall exploration, Princeville really lives up to its name and treats you like royalty (it’s the kind of treatment you, our dear readers, deserve!).

island hopping trip hawaii

9. Wailua River Kayak and Secret Falls: For those who crave a bit of adventure and epic exploration, the unforgettable trek towards secrets falls will keep you captivated. While on your voyage, you’ll paddle through the sacred Wailua River Valley by kayak, and hike along dirt paths while surrounded by tropical wildlife.

Secret Falls itself is a magical lagoon stolen straight out of a fairy tale, where you can soak in the crystal water and be blown away by one of the monumental waterfalls on the island. 

10. Ziplining: There is no way better to experience the divine Kauai than soaring along the horizon on a zipline. Fly overhead the jungle and experience the gorgeous garden isle from above. Hands down, this the most adrenaline-pumping and thrilling activity on this Hawaii itinerary. 

Where to Stay in Kauai

Most visitors to the island choose to either stay on the north shore (Princeville) or the south shore (Poipu). 

Poipu : This is where we typically stay when we’re visiting Kauai. Besides Poipu Beach being ranked among the top 10 in the states, staying in this area will put you in the middle of so many options for food and drink.

Recommended hotels: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa  (featuring a lazy river, movies under the stars, saltwater lagoon, spectacular dining views, and more), Sheraton Kauai Resort (oceanfront with Hawaiian dining), and Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu (part of the Autograph Collection!).  

island hopping trip hawaii

Princeville: A bit more secluded and much more lush than the south shore. Stay here for outta this world snorkeling and beaches with fine golden sand without all the crowds.

Recommended hotels: Princeville Resort (high-end property with a beachfront pool and my first choice), the The Westin Princeville (upscale cliff-top resort), and Hanalei Bay Resort (casual rooms and suites).  

Where to Eat in Kauai: Don’t miss sunset drinks at The Beach House, fresh fish at The Lanai, breakfast bowls at both Little Fish Coffee (my favorite) and Java Kai, and shave ice at Jojo’s.

island hopping trip hawaii

Highlights on Hawaii: “The Big Island”

If you haven’t guessed already, the Big Island is called “The Big Island” for a reason – it’s huger than huge, and twice the size of all the other islands put together (see, it’s quite large)!

AND it’s actually still growing in size by way of hardened molten lava, thanks to the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea, which is situated right on the island. Pretty neat, eh?

The Big Island has 11 out of 13 of the world’s climatic zones – meaning you’ll find both white sandy beaches, rainforests, snow-capped mountains, and active volcanoes all on the same island.

island hopping trip hawaii

1. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Is it just me, or is it getting hot, hot, HOT out here? Hawaii is famous for its multitude of active volcanoes, and there’s no better way to safely experience volcanic land than visiting the rugged National Park.

Here you’ll find Kilauea Volcano, which is a whopping 280,000 years old and the most active volcano you’ll experience while Hawaii island hopping. Thrilling crater hikes INTO the active volcano. Intense treks and bike rides alongside scalding steam vents. Wandering through the Thurston Lava Tube, a large cave sculptured by ancient fast-flowing lava. There’s certainly not a shortage of adventures to partake in!

2. ‘Akaka Falls State Park: What’s here you ask? Well, the clues in the name! Home to a multitude of whimsical waterfalls, you can hike along paved paths and be blown away as you explore this lush jungle full of exotic plant-life and wild birds.

island hopping trip hawaii

3. Mauna Kea Observatory: Being Hawaii’s highest peak at 13,500 feet, this observatory is the best place to get a flawless panoramic view of the Big Island. Perch yourself atop this dormant volcano and be blown away by the remarkable sights. 

4. Kona: Expanding across the west side of Hawaii, Kona is rich with culture. From historical monuments, such as Hulihee Palace and Mokuaikaua Church, to fruitful nightlife and quaint shopping boutiques – this city has it all.

So no matter if you’re in the mood to explore, shop, or throw back a few cocktails (I certainly am at least!), you’ll be sure to find something to do in these busy streets. 

island hopping trip hawaii

5. Hilo: There is no way you can travel all the way to Hawaii and not explore the Big Island’s capital city! It’s filled with white-sand beaches and dramatic waterfalls. Vast mountains and tropical forests. Classic farmers markets and soaring banyan trees. Hilo is the city of endless opportunities, you’re truly spoilt for choice…

6. Snorkel With Manta Rays: Swimming alongside majestic manta rays is a once in a lifetime experience that cannot be missed, so dip your toes in the water and be prepared for a wild ride.

Considered the birds of the ocean, manta rays have a large span that allows to fly through the water, and watching them move is an absolutely captivating sight. With tours offered at both daytime AND nighttime, you can jump in at anytime and make a splash alongside the rays. 

7. Stargaze: With gorgeous clear skies and lack of light pollution, the Big Island is the place to be for stargazing. While just about everywhere on the island has an unforgettable starry night sky, Mauna Kea and Mauna Lau are particularly famous for their stunning skyline and bright stars.

8. Ka Lae: Being able to say you’ve stood at the southernmost point of the United States is reason enough to visit Ka Lae. If that doesn’t sell you, the unforgettable view from the rugged cliffs sure will. Trust me, nothing compares to having the wind whip through your hair as you stare out across the ocean, it’s like you’re in your own dramatic music video…

9. Snorkel in Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park: Hawaii and it’s magnificent beaches are the perfect place to dip your head under water and snorkel, and Kealakekua Bay is definitely one of the top places to do so.

With clear blue waters and gentle waves, you’ll have a serene experience while submerged underwater. Keep an eye out for yellow tangs, as these tiny yellow fish are known to frequent the waters!

10. Spelunking Kula Kai Caverns: You’ve spent enough time wandering above ground, so slap on a hard hat as it’s time to go venturing below! The Kula Kai caverns are a series of echoey caves and twisting lava tube tunnels, and it’s easy to get lost within the mystifying passageways so be sure to bring along an experienced guide.

11. Waipio Valley and Waterfalls: Within this extraordinary valley you will find the Big Island’s most famous waterfalls: Hiilawe Falls, Akaka Falls, and Rainbow Falls. While hiking through the mind-boggling Waipio, it’ll seem like a tap has been turned on within the hills.

island hopping trip hawaii

With mile-high waterfalls that spit fast-flowing water into the valleys below, it’s the kind of scene that’ll have you crossing your legs and needing to pee!

12. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach: There’s something so spooky and captivating about a bold black-sanded beach. Golden sand is replaced by darkened basalt, and it will glitter and sparkle beneath your feet. Turtles are often found lounging around under swaying coconut trees, as even the wildlife enjoy relaxing upon this inky-colored coast.

island hopping trip hawaii

13. Kona Coffee Farm: If you’re tired after an intense Hawaii island hopping adventure, Kona Coffee Farm is going to wake you up and put an extra spring in your step. Tour the endless stretches of farmland, and sample what is considered one of the most gourmet cups of coffee in the world. 

Where to Stay on The Big Island

The big island is split into 9 distinct areas, all with their own unique features and selling points. I recommend staying in Hilo, Kailua-Kona, or a locally-managed apartment/condo. 

Hilo :  In Hilo, you’ll be close to the Volcano National Park, and in general be in closer proximity to volcanic areas and tourist spots.

Recommended Hotels: Hilo Bay Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast (quaint building with the ocean on its doorstep), Hilo Seaside Hotel (luxury resort with pool), and  The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls (short walk away from gorgeous lagoon and waterfall). 

Kailua-Kona :  In Kailua-Kona, you’ll be in closer proximity to the rich historical sights and stunning beaches of the big island, and is perfect for travelers wanting to spend their 10 days in Hawaii exploring.

Recommended Hotels: Hale Maluhia Country Inn (a magical little cottage surrounded by nature), Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Hotel (in the heart of the historic village), and the  Sheraton Kona Resort (high-class, luxury resort).

Are you currently planning a trip around the Hawaiian islands?! What’s on your 10 day Hawaii island hopping itinerary so far?!

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January 1, 2023 at 4:58 pm

I came across your blog, as I was looking for something in particular. I grew up on Oahu. You have some nice suggestions, but have missed some very important sites for first time visitors: Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum; Chinatown; the Hawaiian Mission Houses; The Byodo-In Temple.

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Island Hopping

Island hopping in Hawaiʻi is a must. If at all possible, do it!

The Hawaiian Islands are like siblings in a family – they may come from the same source, but they can be as different as night and day.  Hawaiʻi is not a “you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all” sort of place. Each island has very unique features and flavors.

Experience the Hawaiian Islands

Oʻahu is home to Hawaiʻi’s world renown metropolitan, Honolulu, and the iconic Waikiki Beach. Maui features Haleakala and the famous road to Hana. Big Island is best known for Kīlauea Volcano. Kauaʻi is home to Hanalei Bay and Waimea Canyon. Molokaʻi is Hawaiʻi’s best kept secret. Lānaʻi is for lovers and those wanting a private luxurious island experience.

Island Hopping Cost and Deals

Cruise ships are one great way to see the islands, but the fasted way to island hop is by plane. You can expect to pay about $100 per person each way, which can add up. So, if you are really hoping to hop around, we suggest booking an island hopping vacation package. We offer some great deals through our partner Tripmaster. Specials change weekly, so scout the package you want and when you see the price you like, book it!

Hawaii Airport Information & Inter-Island Flight Times

In Hawaiʻi the airports are named for the city or town in which they reside. There are 10 total. Flight times from Honolulu on Oʻahu to the outer islands range from 25 to 50 minutes.

Here is a list of airports and flight times from Honolulu by island:

  • Oʻahu: Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  • Maui: Kahului Airport (OGG): 35 minutes Kapalua Airport (JHM): 35 minutes Hana Airport (HNM)
  • Big Island: Kona International Airport (KOA): 41 minutes Hilo International Airport (ITO): 51 minutes
  • Kauaʻi: Lihue Airport (LIH): 35 minutes
  • Molokaʻi: Molokai Airport (MKK): 25 minutes Kalaupapa Airport (LUP)
  • Lānaʻi: Lanai Airport (LNY): 30 minutes

Island Hopping:  Recommended Time on Each Island

If you plan to spend your vacation time island hopping, we recommend spending the following amount of time exploring the sights on each island:

  • Oʻahu – 3 full days
  • Maui – 2 full days
  • Big Island – 3 full days
  • Kauaʻi – 2 full days
  • Molokai – 2 full days
  • Lānaʻi – 2 full days

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Oahu is a spectacular island to visit; you could happily spend your entire vacation there and experience every type of island adventure imaginable. With that said, we want you to keep in mind that the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai are a only a proverbial hop, skip, and a jump away from Oahu. Best of all, these islands are just as fabulous for adventure as Oahu. So if you're planning on doing some Oahu Island Hopping, be sure to check out The Guide's top selections of Oahu day trips. 

Recommended Oahu Tours

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Island Hopping Tips for a Perfect Hawaii Experience

Island hopping in Hawaii is a popular way to experience the diverse beauty of the Aloha State. With six main islands, each with its unique charm, island hopping allows you to explore multiple destinations in one vacation. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a mix of both, Hawaii has something for everyone. Proper planning is crucial to enjoying your island-hopping adventure in Hawaii entirely. Consider your budget, the length of your stay, and your preferred activities when deciding which islands to visit. Flying between islands is the most common method of transportation, but there are also ferries and cruises available. Guided day trips are another option for those who want to see multiple islands in a short amount of time. No matter which islands you visit, Hawaii will surely provide a memorable vacation filled with stunning natural beauty, delicious cuisine, and unique cultural experiences. Keep reading for tips on planning the perfect island-hopping adventure in Hawaii.

Table of Contents

Understanding island hopping in hawaii.

Hawaii is a dream destination for many travelers, and good reason. With its stunning beaches, breathtaking landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, there’s something for everyone in this tropical paradise. One of the best ways to experience all that Hawaii has to offer is through island hopping. In this section, we’ll explore the unique geography of Hawaii and compare island hopping to staying on one island.

Hawaii’s Unique Geography

Hawaii is made up of eight main islands, each with its distinct character and attractions. The islands are spread over 1,500 miles, and the distance between them can make travel challenging. Fortunately, there are several ways to get around, including inter-island flights, ferries, and cruises.

The islands are divided into two main groups: the Windward Islands (including Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island) and the Leeward Islands (Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe). Each island has its unique topography, climate, and culture, making island hopping an exciting and rewarding experience.

Island Hopping Vs. Stayin on One Island

While staying on one island can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, island hopping allows you to see more of Hawaii’s diverse landscape and culture. Visiting multiple islands will enable you to explore different beaches, try new foods, and experience various activities.

Island hopping also allows you to customize your itinerary to fit your interests and budget. For example, if you’re interested in surfing, you should spend more time on Oahu, which has some of the best surf spots in the world. If you’re more interested in hiking and nature, consider spending more time on Kauai, the Garden Island.

Overall, island hopping is a great way to experience all Hawaii offers. Whether you travel by plane, ferry, or cruise ship, you will have an unforgettable adventure.

Planning Your Island Hopping Adventure

Planning your island hop adventure in Hawaii can be overwhelming. Still, you can make the most of your trip with research and preparation. Here are some tips to help you plan your perfect Hawaiian island-hopping adventure.

Choosing Your Islands

Hawaii has six main islands, each with its unique charm and attractions. Research each island and decide which ones you want to visit based on your preferences and interests. For example, Maui or Kauai might be the perfect choice if you’re looking for a romantic getaway. If you’re interested in surfing, the North Shore of Oahu is a must-visit.

Scheduling Your Stay

When scheduling your stay, consider how much time you want to spend on each island. The length of your stay will depend on your itinerary and budget. Some people prefer to stay on each island for a few days, while others prefer to stay longer. Spending at least three to four days on each island is recommended to get a feel for the local culture and attractions.

Packing Essentials

Pack essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable shoes, and a hat when packing for your Hawaii island-hopping adventure. It is also essential to pack light and bring what you need. Keep in island-hopping from island to island, so packing light will make your travels more accessible and enjoyable.

Consider booking your flights and accommodations to save money on your trip. Many airlines and hotels offer discounted rates for early bookings. You can also find Hawaii itineraries online to help you plan your trip and save money.

In conclusion, planning your Hawaii island hopping adventure can be a fun and exciting experience. You can ensure your trip is successful by researching, scheduling your stay, and packing essentials.

Navigating Inter-Island Travel

When it comes to island hopping in Hawaii, there are various transportation options available. From air travel to ferries and rental cars, it’s essential to know the ins and outs of each mode of transportation to ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip.

Air Travel in Hawaii

The most popular way to travel between the Hawaiian Islands is by air. Several airlines offer inter-island flights, including Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines. The main airports for inter-island flights are Honolulu International Airport, Kahului Airport, Lihue Airport, Hilo International Airport, and Kapalua Airport.

When booking inter-island flights, it’s essential to consider the following:

  • Cost:  Prices for inter-island flights can vary depending on the season and airline. Be sure to compare prices and book early to get the best deal.
  • Luggage:  Most airlines allow one free checked bag and a carry-on. Be sure to check the airline’s baggage policy before packing.
  • Flight Time:  Flight times between islands can vary from 20 minutes to over an hour. Be sure to plan accordingly and allow travel time to and from the airport.

Ferry and Cruise Options

For those who want a more leisurely and scenic option, ferry and cruise options are also available. The Hawaii Superferry operated for a brief period but has since ceased operations. However, several airlines offer ferry and cruise services, such as the Maui-Lanai Expeditions and the Kauai Sea Tours.

When considering ferry and cruise options, keep in mind the following:

  • Schedule:  Ferry and cruise schedules can be limited, so plan and book in advance.
  • Weather:  Ferry and cruise schedules can be affected by weather conditions, so be sure to check the forecast before booking.
  • Cost:  Ferry and cruise prices can be higher than inter-island flights, so be sure to compare prices and consider the added benefits of a leisurely boat ride.

Car Rentals and Other Transport

For those who want more flexibility and independence, renting a car is a great option. Several car rental companies are available at each airport, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. Other transportation options include buses, bicycles, and mopeds.

When renting a car or considering other transportation options, keep in mind the following:

  • Driving Conditions:  Driving conditions can vary between islands, so research road conditions and traffic patterns before renting a car.
  • Cost:  Rental car prices can vary depending on the season and availability. Be sure to compare prices and book early to get the best deal.
  • Parking:  Parking can be limited in some areas, so research parking options before arriving.

Overall, inter-island travel in Hawaii offers a variety of transportation options to suit any traveler’s needs. By considering the factors above and planning, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable island-hopping experience.

Exploring the Hawaiian Islands

island hopping trip hawaii

Island hopping in Hawaii is a great way to experience each island’s unique culture and natural beauty. Each island has its distinct personality and attractions, making it worth it to explore more than one. Here are some highlights of each island to help you plan your island-hopping adventure.

Maui is known for its beautiful beaches, whale watching, and the Road to Hana. Take a day trip to the small town of Hana and drive along the winding road to see waterfalls, rainforests, and scenic vistas. Hiking to the top of Haleakala for sunrise is a unique and unforgettable experience. Maui also has a thriving art scene with many galleries and museums.

Kauai is an adventurer’s paradise with activities like hiking, snorkeling, and helicopter rides. The Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is a must-see attraction. The island is also home to beautiful beaches and rainforests, making it an excellent destination for nature lovers.

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to some of the world’s most active volcanoes and unique landscapes. Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see the Kilauea volcano and explore lava tubes. The island also has beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and coffee plantations.

Oahu is home to the state capital, Honolulu, and the famous Waikiki Beach. The island also has historic sites like Pearl Harbor and the Iolani Palace. For a unique experience, hike to the top of Diamond Head for panoramic views of the island.

Lanai is a small island with a laid-back vibe and beautiful beaches. The island is home to many luxury resorts and a great relaxation destination. Visit Lanai City to explore the art galleries and local shops.

Molokai is a quiet island with a rich history and beautiful scenery. The island is known for its sea cliffs, waterfalls, and hiking trails. Take a guided tour to learn about the island’s history and culture.

Island hopping in Hawaii is an adventure that is sure to be unforgettable. Each island has unique attractions and activities, making it worth it to explore more than one.

Experiencing Local Culture and Cuisine

island hopping trip hawaii

Every trip to Hawaii is complete with experiencing the local culture and cuisine. From traditional Hawaiian activities to popular Hawaiian dishes, there are plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the local lifestyle.

Popular Hawaiian Dishes

Hawaii is known for its unique blend of cuisine, influenced by the many cultures that have made the islands their home. Some of the most popular Hawaiian dishes include:

  • Poke: a raw fish salad found in many restaurants and grocery stores throughout Hawaii.
  • Plate lunch: a local favorite typically includes rice, macaroni salad, and a meat dish like teriyaki chicken or kalua pork.
  • Loco Moco: a hearty dish that consists of rice, a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and gravy.
  • Shave ice: a refreshing treat made from shaved ice and flavored syrups.

Traditional Hawaiian Activities

Participating in traditional Hawaiian activities is a great way to learn about the history and culture of the islands. Some popular activities include:

  • Hula dancing: a traditional dance that tells stories through movement and music.
  • Lei making: learn how to make a lei, a garland of flowers or other materials often given as a symbol of affection or respect.
  • Ukulele lessons: try your hand at playing the ukulele, a small guitar-like instrument that is synonymous with Hawaiian music.

Shopping and Souvenirs

If you’re looking for souvenirs to take home, Hawaii has plenty of options. Some popular items to look for include:

  • Hawaiian shirts: also known as aloha shirts, these colorful shirts are a staple of Hawaiian fashion.
  • Macadamia nuts: a popular snack found in many grocery stores and gift shops.
  • Kona coffee: grown on the slopes of the Big Island, Kona coffee is known for its rich flavor and smooth finish.

There are endless options for experiencing local culture and cuisine in Hawaii. Whether you’re on a family vacation or a solo trip, take the time to explore all the islands have to offer.

Tips for a Perfect Hawaii Experience

When planning a trip to Hawaii, there are a few things to remember to ensure a perfect experience. Here are some tips to help make your trip to Hawaii unforgettable.

Photography Tips

Hawaii is a photographer’s paradise, with stunning landscapes and beautiful beaches. To make the most of your photography experience, here are some tips:

  • Bring extra batteries and memory cards for your camera or phone.
  • Wake up early to capture the sunrise and avoid the crowds.
  • Experiment with different angles and perspectives.
  • Use a polarizing filter to enhance colors and reduce glare.
  • Take advantage of the golden hour, the time just before sunset when the light is soft and warm.

Staying Safe in Hawaii

While Hawaii is generally a safe destination, it’s essential to take precautions to ensure your safety:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.
  • Continuously swim at beaches with lifeguards and pay attention to warning signs.
  • Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated to prevent heat exhaustion.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car or unattended on the beach.

Respecting Hawaiian Culture and Environment

Hawaii has a rich culture and unique environment, and it’s important to respect both during your visit:

  • Learn about Hawaiian culture and history before your trip.
  • Avoid touching or taking anything from sacred sites.
  • Use reef-safe sunscreen to protect the ocean and marine life.
  • Stay on designated trails to avoid damaging fragile ecosystems.

By following these tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip to Hawaii while respecting the local culture and environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to travel between hawaiian islands.

The best way to travel between Hawaiian islands is by plane. Several airlines offer inter-island flights, including Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. Flights are frequent and relatively short, ranging from 20 to 45 minutes.

How easy is it to island hop in Hawaii?

Island hopping in Hawaii is relatively easy, especially if flying between islands. The airports are well-equipped, and the airlines are reliable. However, you plan to take a ferry or a cruise between islands. In that case, you may need additional planning as these options are less frequent and reliable.

How much time do you need to island hop in Hawaii?

The time you need to island hop in Hawaii depends on how many islands you want to visit and how much you want to see on each island. Spending at least a few days on each island would be best to experience what it has to offer fully. However, if you are short on time, you can still see a lot by spending just a day or two on each island.

What is the best way to island hop?

The best way to island hop in Hawaii is by flying between islands. This is the most convenient and reliable option, and several airlines offer inter-island flights. If you want to take a more leisurely approach, consider taking a ferry or a cruise between islands.

What are the best Hawaii island hopping packages?

Several Hawaii island hopping packages are available, and the best one for you will depend on your budget, travel style, and preferences. Some popular options include packages that include flights, accommodations, and activities on multiple islands, as well as packages that focus on specific activities or themes, such as adventure or romance.

How much does it cost to island hop in Hawaii?

The cost of island hopping in Hawaii varies depending on several factors, including how many islands you want to visit, how long you plan to stay on each island, and how you plan to travel between islands. Inter-island flights typically cost around $100 per person, while ferry and cruise options can be more expensive. Additionally, you must factor in the cost of accommodations, activities, and transportation on each island.

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Hawaii Travel Spot

Hawaii Travel Spot

Hawaii Island Hopping: How to Travel Between the Islands

Posted: October 28, 2022 | Last updated: October 18, 2023

If you are thinking about visiting more than one Hawaiian island during your trip, it’s very easy. Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about Hawaii island hopping.

If you’re interested in Hawaii island hopping, I’ve put together an informative guide for you.

Why turn to me for Hawaii advice? Having explored the islands on 40+ occasions, my perspective is truly seasoned.

Below you can read about which islands to visit, the best types of inter-island travel, as well as my tips for how to island hop in Hawaii.

The State of Hawaii is an archipelago made up the 8 main islands, plus over 120 smaller ones. Each island has its own beautiful personality and history. You’ll want to experience the unique histories and natural wonders on every island!

There are a variety of different ways to enjoy your island vacation. Some visitors like to stay near 1 beach in a resort community, and you’ll have a great time! But Hawaiian Island hopping is a wonderful way to make the most out of your trip by seeing more than 1 island in one go.

If this is something you’ve been wondering about, keep reading for all the info you’ll need.

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Hawaii Island Hopping Guide complete with cruise excursions, island itineraries, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

Which island should i visit.

The first step on your Hawaii island hopping adventure is deciding which islands are the best for you. Each island has different activities and attractions.

You can read a brief overview of each island below, as well as any specific info related to island hopping in Hawaii.

If you plan to visit more than one island, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of my Hawaii Island Hopping Guide which has 1-3 day itineraries for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island, Lana’i, and Moloka’i.

You’ll probably fly into Oahu, so it’s a convenient place to start your island-hopping vacation. It’s also the most affordable Hawaiian Island, and the most visited with tons of attractions and natural areas.

You’ll find lots of things to do in Oahu, including visiting Pearl Harbor , exploring Kualoa Ranch , touring pineapple plantations, and swimming at Waikiki Beach .

One of the top honeymoon destinations in the world is Maui! It’s also super popular with families. There are both luxury resort communities and surfer villages.

One of my favorite things to do in Maui is watch the sunrise from Haleakala . Other favorite pastimes include whale watching and exploring the Road to Hana . And it’s a great starting point if you want to island-hop to Lana’i or Moloka’i.

The Big Island of Hawaii

The largest of the Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island is most famous for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park . You can also try delicious native Kona coffee or tour a coffee farm .

People also come to the Big Island for the sparkling white sand beaches and amazing watersports opportunities.

Kauai is called the “Garden Isle” for its spectacular natural attractions, including ancient desert canyons, verdant mountains, and breathtaking waterfalls . There’s no limit to the thrilling outdoor adventures to be found here!

Go on a helicopter ride through the rainforest or go river tubing on the Coconut Coast. It makes for a great day trip, but you could also easily spend several days here.

Lana’i is the smallest of the main islands and just a 9-mile ferry ride away from Maui. It’s home to luxury resorts, but you’ll probably come here for a day of ATV tours or challenging scenic hikes.

The rugged coast of Lana’i features miles of serene, undeveloped beaches that you’ll have all to yourself! Or you can explore tide pools on foot or on a Lana’i snorkeling tour from Maui .

The small island of Moloka’i makes a big splash with the longest continuous fringing reef in the world (that’s ideal for snorkeling). You’ll also find sky-high sea cliffs and Pāpōhaku Beach, the largest white sand beach in the Hawaiian Islands!

History lovers will want to visit the Molokai Museum, as well as the Kalaupapa National Historical Park. You can learn about the island’s fascinating history which includes a leper colony.

Different Ways to Island Hop in Hawaii

Even if you’re aware of Hawaii island hopping , you may not have all the ins and outs on how it’s done. When you start researching how to travel in Hawaii between islands, you realize pretty fast that there are 2 main ways to do it: inter-island flights and ferries.

Inter-Island Flights

Hawaii island hopper flights go to all the main islands. Direct flights take less than an hour and easily cost less than $50 a ticket! This also makes it the easiest and cheapest way to travel between the Hawaiian Islands.

Just keep in mind that most direct flights leave from Honolulu Airport in Oahu, while the other islands make connections. You don’t want to spend 3 hours getting from Big Island to spend 1 day in Moloka’i!

You also want to think about transportation once you land. Maui has a wonderful public bus system, while you’ll definitely need to rent a car at the airport in Moloka’i. Also, rental cars have become more in demand in Hawaii. So, you should book a rental car in advance.

Many people ask how to get from island to island in Hawaii thinking that there’s still a Super Ferry. This was a thing in the early 2000s but it didn’t last long. In your search, you might even have come across their old website, but trust me, there isn’t an inter-island ferry system in Hawaii!

The only ferry goes between Maui and Lana’i . I’ve taken this ferry from Lahaina and it has its pros and cons.

From Lahaina in West Maui, you’ll take the public ferry for about $30 per person one-way. That means, depending on the size of your party, you can easily spend $100 just to get to Lana’i. It’s just something to be aware of.

You’ll enjoy a nice ferry ride that takes about an hour. It almost doubles as a boat tour with great views of Lana’i, Moloka’i, Kaho’olawe, and Maui from the water. Plus, in the winter, there’s a good chance you’ll get a peek at humpback whales!

And while the ferry to Moloka’i stopped running a few years ago, the island is just a short flight from Maui.

Hawaii Island Hopping Tours

You can also take all the guesswork out of your Hawaii island hopping itinerary and book a guided tour with transport. Referring to knowledgeable locals is a great way to check off an entire day of activities, especially if it’s your first time visiting Hawaii !

You can find great full-day tours that give you a great feel for the island, like this Small Group Road to Hana Tour  with a pick-up in Maui.

Or take this Lanai to Maui tour in a 4×4 Jeep Cherokee  with a private guide for an off-the-beaten-path experience. We’ve done this and it was such an easy way to see the island.

 And I need to mention that  snorkeling tours like this one  are also the only way to visit the island of Ni’ihau. That’s because Ni’ihau is a private island and you basically need permission to go there. But you can see the beautiful cliff face of Ni’ihau while enjoying prime snorkeling off the coast.

Multi-Island Cruise

If you’re open to a Hawaii island hopping cruise ,  Norwegian Cruise Line has an impressive one . In 7 days, you’ll travel from Oahu to Kauai, Big Island to Maui, and then back to Oahu.

A big plus for this cruise is that you don’t have to worry about the logistics of switching hotels or booking transportation! And there aren’t any all-inclusive resorts in Hawaii , so this is a great alternative.

The only downside might be that you only get 8-hours at some ports. If being on a clock when it comes to exploring stresses you out, this isn’t for you. But it’s a creative way to see the 4 main islands in a short time span.

Hawaii Island Hopping Vacation Packages

Going through a travel agency might be the perfect answer for your island experience! You can find all-inclusive Hawaii island hopping packages that cover all the details. These agencies cross the ‘I’s and dot the ‘T’s so all you have to do is show up!

Agencies like Aloha Hawaiian Vacations prepare it all for you, even down to the lei greeting at the airport!  For their 4-Island Package , they work with you to choose daily activities. They’ll take care of the hassle of booking flights, car rentals, and even dinner reservations on each island.

So, What’s the Best Way to Island Hop in Hawaii?

Based on the information you read above, I think the best way to island hop is to catch direct inter-island flights . For the best chance of finding these flights, I recommend island hopping from Oahu.

But this also depends on which islands you want to visit. If you want to see Lana’i or Moloka’i, your best bet is to plan a half or full day on 1 or both islands, with Maui as your launch point.

Hawaii island hopping can be whatever you want it to be! If you want more independence and freedom to change your plans, you should book your own flights and individual tours.

However, if planning isn’t your strong point, or if vacation packages and cruises might give you peace of mind, these are also quality choices!

Tips for Hawaii Island Hopping

Budget your time.

Whether your Hawaii island hopping between 2 islands or 5, remember that travel and transition always take time. There’s no way around that! You’ll be transporting luggage, checking into flights, renting, and returning cars, and more.

Give yourself a little time for these less glamorous parts of your island-hopping adventure. It’ll make the fun stuff even more exciting!

Book Things in Advance

Save yourself the stress of wondering if you’ll be turned away. Book things like rental cars and popular attractions in advance.

For example, Pearl Harbor is free to visit, but only a certain number of tickets are available per day. Take my advice and reserve tickets online in advance where they’re available!

Look for Ways Save on the Cost of Island Hopping in Hawaii

While flights between islands are pleasantly affordable, the cost to island hop in Hawaii quickly adds up! It can be nice to find creative ways to save.

Maybe book a vacation rental to save on accommodations and food. Or instead of booking 5 nights at that luxury resort you’ve had your eye on, only book 1 night.

And don’t turn away from Hawaii multi-island vacation packages just because they have a high price tag upfront. Many travel agencies offer discounts on all-inclusive packages that end up saving you in the long run!

FAQ about Hawaii Island Hopping

Yes! Island hopping is a popular way to see more than 1 just island in a single visit to Hawaii, and it’s super easy to do.

Island hopping is a worthwhile way to experience the different islands of Hawaii! But you’ll have the best time if you’re planning a longer trip, anywhere from 7 to 14 days. This way you don’t have to rush, and you can truly enjoy each island that you visit.

The only way to travel among all the islands of Hawaii is by plane. And the only ferry goes between Maui and Lana’i. You can’t drive between the islands, either. But inter-island flights are super easy, fast, cheap, and frequent.

That depends on how many days you have! For a 5-day trip, a great option is making your base in Maui and taking a day trip to one nearby Lana’i or Moloka’i. A week or 10 days is enough to enjoy a few nights each across 2 islands. And if you’re planning on 2 or 3 weeks, you could easily visit the 3 largest islands (Maui, Oahu, and Big Island).

Go on a Hawaii Island Hopping Vacation

Maybe you’ve been dreaming up your perfect Hawaii island hopping vacation. Or this might be the first time you’ve heard about this amazing way to see Hawaii. Island hopping is a fun way to experience more than 1 island in one trip.

If the information I gave you makes it feel a little more manageable, I’ve done my job!

Once you’ve figured out which islands you want to visit, download a copy of my Hawaii Island Hopping Guide with everything you need to plan your trip!

This absolutely beautiful state is made up of islands full of vivid histories and rich cultures and attractions that you won’t want to miss out on. So, try out island hopping!

Looking for more Hawaii travel resources? Check out my Hawaii trip planning guide , how to get cheap airfare to Hawaii , how many days in Hawaii you need , how to plan a Hawaii honeymoon , and the biggest Hawaii mistakes to avoid !

The post Hawaii Island Hopping: How to Travel Between the Islands appeared first on Hawaii Travel Spot .

If you are thinking about visiting more than one Hawaiian island during your trip, it’s very easy. Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about Hawaii island hopping. This guide to Hawaii island hopping was written by Marcie Cheung (a Hawaii travel expert) and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase ... <a title="Hawaii Island Hopping: How to Travel Between the Islands" class="read-more" href="https://hawaiitravelspot.com/hawaii-island-hopping/">Read more</a>

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Experience the glorious beaches of Maui.

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Today you will fly via Los Angeles to Honolulu, home of the famous Waikiki Beach. If you can tear yourself away from the beautiful golden sands and the snorkel paradise of the turquoise waters, there is a lot to see in this relaxed city.

Sunset and Hollywood Boulevard Street Sign

Enjoy a day trip out to see Pearl Harbor and the numerous sites that commemorate those who lost their lives when the harbor was attacked during World War II.

The Residences at Waikiki Beach Tower

This morning you will make your way to the airport to board your flight to Kauai, the isle famed for filming Jurassic Park. On arrival pick up your car hire and drive to your hotel.

Na Pali Coastline - Kauai

Today you will experience the beauty of the garden isle of Kauai, as you take a boat trip to the idyllic Na Pali Coast — an area of stunning natural beauty. After some breakfast and snorkeling you will make your way over to the famous coastline. The water is crystal blue and the mountains and waterfalls are so picture-perfect they don't even look real! This part of Hawaii is only viewable by sea or air.

The Na Pali Cliffs, Kauai

You have a day to relax in the beautiful garden isle of Kauai. You may wish to explore the hike through Kōke'e State Park and the Waimea Canyon.

Long view of Napali coast, Kauai (Source: HTA / Tor Johnson)

Today you will take your flight over to the Big Island. On arrival, pick up your car and drive to your hotel in the heart of the national park. Relax in the lovely tropical eastern coast of the island for the rest of the day.

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii (Big Island)

Today you will be met by your private guide. He will take you around the park and you will be able to ask questions on the geology, landscape, culture and history that has shaped this national park.

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

At your leisure, move from the eastern side of the island to the west. Arrive on the coast and relax at your hotel for the rest of the day.

A view of the Halemaumau Crater, Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

This afternoon you'll be picked up and driven to the top of Mauna Kea where you can enjoy some stargazing at one of the best places in the world and learning all about the history of this amazing island.

Mauna Kea Observatory

Today you can relax on the beautiful Kohala Coast. This evening enjoy a manta ray night snorkel — an amazing chance to swim with these fascinating underwater creatures.

Onomea Bay lookout, Hawaii (Source: HTA / Tor Johnson)

After a leisurely breakfast make your way to the airport for your flight to Maui. On arrival pick up your hire car and drive to your oceanfront hotel, an idyllic location for you to relax at for the next four nights.

Makena Beach, Maui

Enjoy a day at leisure in Maui. Relax on sun-kissed beaches, wander through traditional towns or hike through the Iao Valley or Haleakala. Whatever you love doing on vacation, Maui has it all.

Dolphins in Maui

Spend a full day exploring everything Maui has to offer. Take a tour to Haleakala National Park to see Maui's highest peak, or visit Iao Valley State Park, home to one of Maui's most recognizable landmarks, the 1,200 ft Iao Needle. Alternatively, you could spend time in Lahaina, which is a historic whaling village and one of the most lively spots on Maui.

Hana Highway, Maui

Today you will take the Discover Molokini Turtle Snorkel Tour to see the turtles swimming in the ocean off the coast of Makena Bay on the southwestern part of the island, and a chance to see the tropical fish and maybe even a black tip shark in the Molokini Crater. This afternoon you might like to take the car and drive up to the top of Haleakala Volcano where you can watch the sunset.

Hawaii Molokini crater

Return your car at the airport this morning as you fly back to the US mainland. On arrival in Los Angeles, take a taxi to your hotel in Santa Monica.

Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

Make your own way to the airport today for your onward flight.

Pacific coastline in Los Angeles

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodations, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

Park Shore Waikiki - exterior

Park Shore Waikiki

Sheraton Coconut Beach Resort

Sheraton Coconut Beach Resort

Castle/Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation, Kauai

Kiahuna Plantation Resort Kauai by Outrigger

Deluxe Oceanfront, Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort, Kauai

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Volcano House, Hawaii (Big Island)

Volcano House

Aston Shores at Waikoloa, Hawaii

Aston Shores at Waikoloa

Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii (Big Island)

Fairmont Orchid

Hapu'u Forest Bungalow at Chalet Kilauea

Chalet Kilauea

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

View more accommodations in island of hawai'i.

Royal Lahaina Resort, Maui

Royal Lahaina Resort

The Ritz Carlton Kapalua, Maui

Ritz-Carlton Kapalua

Puna 2 Oceanfront Suites, Napili Kai Beach Resort, Maui

Napili Kai Beach Resort

Beach front cottage at Inn at Mama's Fish House Restaurant and Inn, Maui

Inn at Mama's Fish House

View more accommodations in maui.

Palihouse Santa Monica, Los Angeles

Palihouse Santa Monica

Loews Hollywood Hotel, Los Angeles

Loews Hollywood Hotel

Jamaica Bay Inn

Jamaica Bay Inn

Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel, Los Angeles (Joie de Vivre Hotels)

Kimpton Shorebreak Resort

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Travel Insurance - pre-existing condition - Hawaii Forum

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' class=

I’ve never had any symptoms from the stones but the GP has referred me to a specialist just to get it checked out, haven’t had the appointment yet.

My question is - in my travel policy I have declared the pre-existing condition, however where it specifically asks “are you awaiting any treatment for the condition” I have selected no. Is this correct?

Of course hoping a claim isn’t necessary, but definitely don’t want to have a claim declined due to an error here. I am not awaiting any treatment, rather an appt with a specialist for a condition that has been diagnosed and just come to light.

Is this considered “treatment” ?

Appreciate any advice. I have contacted the insurer but they’re yet to get back to me.

7 replies to this topic

island hopping trip hawaii

I don't think it matters much what you claim on your travel policy application.

IMO the insurance company will correctly conclude that you have gall stones and are in fact awaiting treatment from a specialist.

I’m not awaiting treatment as such though, more a check up as this is a newly diagnosed condition.

Or is that what you’re saying- a check up essentially is ‘treatment’?

Thanks for your reply

Edit period timed out! But I recommend you ask the travel insurance company since they will be the ones to decide about your claim, should it be made, not anyone on this forum~~~~

You have gallstones in your body. They know that. If you have a problem, it is very likely counted as a preexisting condition.

So it depends if you have a policy that doesn't cover them, has a waiting period to cover, or does cover them..

We only buy policies that DO cover them because companies like to call things pre-existing imo.

I see you are in Australia where waits are maybe common but if I could I would get it checked out asap and determine if treatments are needed.

Thanks. I am awaiting the Specialist appointment and it won’t be before my trip.

The stones were found on an unrelated scan just a few weeks ago, the Dr mentioned it’s likely they’ve been there for years and as I’ve never had any symptoms, never had any reason to get them checked out. As they’re newly discovered, that’s why he has referred me to a specialist.

As it stands I have had the existing condition approved on my travel insurance, we have waiting periods normally on regular insurance, not so much on travel insurance.

Interested to see others thoughts whilst I’m awaiting on the insurer to get back to me as to whether this pending appointment would be considered ‘treatment’.

Definitely check with your personal health insurance to see what they cover out of state. Some consider out of state as out of network and you may be footing the bill.

island hopping trip hawaii

I wouldn't consider meeting with a specialist as getting treatment. It's a meeting with a specialist to discuss what treatment may or may not be necessary.

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island hopping trip hawaii


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  25. Travel Insurance

    19 reviews. 21 helpful votes. 1. Re: Travel Insurance - pre-existing condition. Nov 4, 2023, 10:06 PM. Save. I don't think it matters much what you claim on your travel policy application. IMO the insurance company will correctly conclude that you have gall stones and are in fact awaiting treatment from a specialist. Reply.