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Welcome to Hawaii! Known for its beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and amazing culture, this island state is a popular tourist destination. However, navigating the highways and interstates here can be confusing for visitors. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about driving on the interstate highways in Hawaii.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Hawaii has 3 major interstate highways – H1, H2, and H3. H1 runs from Honolulu through central Oahu. H2 connects central Honolulu to the eastern side of the island. H3 is a short highway spur that connects the marine base to H1. There are no interstates on the other Hawaiian islands.

Background of Hawaii’s Interstate Highways

Hawaii, known for its beautiful beaches and tropical landscapes, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of interstate highways. However, the state does have its own unique system of highways that connect various cities and towns across the islands.

Understanding the background of Hawaii’s interstate highways can shed light on the history and importance of these roadways.

History of highway construction in Hawaii

The construction of highways in Hawaii can be traced back to the early 20th century. In the 1920s, the Territory of Hawaii recognized the need for improved transportation infrastructure to support economic development and tourism.

The first major highway project was the construction of the Pali Highway, which connected Honolulu to the windward side of Oahu.

Over the years, the highway network in Hawaii expanded to include more routes connecting different parts of the islands. One notable project was the H-1 Freeway, which was completed in the 1960s and connected Honolulu with the western suburbs.

This highway played a crucial role in easing traffic congestion and improving transportation efficiency on the island of Oahu.

Another important milestone in the history of highway construction in Hawaii was the establishment of the interstate highway system. In 1956, the U.S. Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which provided funding for the construction of interstate highways across the country.

While Hawaii is not connected to the mainland, it was still eligible to receive federal funds for the construction of its own interstate highways.

Current interstate highway system

Today, Hawaii has three interstate highways: H-1, H-2, and H-3. These highways play a vital role in connecting different parts of the islands and facilitating the movement of people and goods. Let’s take a closer look at each of these highways:

  1. H-1 Freeway: This is the busiest and most important interstate highway in Hawaii. It stretches from downtown Honolulu to Kapolei on the west side of Oahu. The H-1 Freeway serves as a major artery for commuters and connects them to various residential, commercial, and recreational areas.
  2. H-2 Freeway: This interstate highway connects the central part of Oahu with the North Shore. It starts at the H-1/H-2 interchange in Pearl City and extends all the way to Wahiawa. The H-2 Freeway provides a convenient route for residents and visitors to access attractions such as the Dole Plantation and the world-famous surf spots on the North Shore.
  3. H-3 Freeway: The H-3 Freeway is a scenic route that connects the windward side of Oahu with the central part of the island. It starts at Kaneohe and goes through the beautiful Ko’olau Mountains before reaching Halawa. The H-3 Freeway offers breathtaking views and is known for its engineering marvels, including the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels.

These interstate highways in Hawaii not only provide essential transportation links but also contribute to the overall development and connectivity of the islands.

They have become an integral part of the daily lives of residents and visitors, making it easier to explore the diverse landscapes and attractions that Hawaii has to offer.

For more information on Hawaii’s interstate highways, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii Department of Transportation:

Interstate H1 – Moanalua Freeway

Interstate H1, also known as the Moanalua Freeway, is one of the main highways in Hawaii, connecting Pearl City to Honolulu. This stretch of highway is an essential part of the state’s transportation system, providing a crucial link between the western and eastern parts of the island of Oahu.

Let’s take a closer look at the route description, major exits and intersections, and some fun facts about H1.

Route Description

Interstate H1 begins in the city of Pearl City and heads east towards Honolulu. The highway consists of four lanes in each direction, offering a smooth and efficient flow of traffic.

As you drive along H1, you’ll pass through scenic landscapes, including lush greenery and breathtaking ocean views. The Moanalua Freeway is well-maintained, ensuring a comfortable driving experience for commuters and tourists alike.

Major Exits and Intersections

Along Interstate H1, you’ll encounter several major exits and intersections that provide access to various destinations on the island. Some notable exits include:

  • Exit 10: Aiea Heights Drive – This exit leads to the Aiea Heights neighborhood, offering panoramic views of Pearl Harbor and downtown Honolulu.
  • Exit 13A: Stadium/Aiea – This exit provides access to Aloha Stadium, a popular venue for concerts, sports events, and the famous Aloha Stadium Swap Meet.
  • Exit 18: Moanalua Road – This exit leads to the Moanalua neighborhood, known for its beautiful residential areas and Moanalua Gardens, a historic botanical garden.
  • Exit 23: Punahou Street – This exit takes you to the Punahou School, a prestigious private school, and the nearby Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.

Fun Facts about H1

Did you know that Interstate H1 is the busiest highway in Hawaii? On average, it carries over 200,000 vehicles per day! The highway plays a crucial role in keeping the island’s economy thriving by transporting goods and providing access to employment centers and tourist attractions.

Additionally, Interstate H1 has been featured in various movies and TV shows, showcasing its scenic beauty and iconic overpasses. You might recognize these familiar sights if you’re a fan of the popular television series “Hawaii Five-0.”

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, be sure to include a drive along Interstate H1 in your itinerary. It not only offers a convenient way to explore different parts of the island but also treats you to stunning views of Oahu’s natural beauty. So buckle up, turn on your favorite Hawaiian tunes, and enjoy the ride on the Moanalua Freeway!

Interstate H2 – Veterans Memorial Freeway

The Interstate H2, also known as the Veterans Memorial Freeway, is one of the major highways in the beautiful state of Hawaii.

Spanning approximately 10 miles, this interstate connects the cities of Pearl City and Wahiawa on the island of Oahu. It serves as a vital transportation link, providing easy access to various destinations on the island.

Route Description

The H2 begins at the H1/H2 interchange in Pearl City and heads north towards Wahiawa. As you drive along this scenic route, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and lush greenery.

The highway is well-maintained and offers smooth driving conditions, ensuring a pleasant journey for travelers.

Major Exits and Intersections

Along the H2, there are several major exits and intersections that provide access to different parts of the island. One of the notable exits is Exit 8, which leads to the Schofield Barracks, a major U.S. Army installation. This exit is often busy with military personnel and their families commuting to and from the base.

Another significant intersection is the H2/H1 merge, located near the beginning of the freeway. This merge allows drivers to transition between the H2 and the H1, which is the main interstate on the island. It’s essential to pay attention to signage and follow the correct lanes to avoid confusion.

Interesting Attractions along H2

While driving along the H2, you’ll have the opportunity to explore some fascinating attractions. One such attraction is the Dole Plantation, located near Exit 8. This popular tourist spot offers a variety of activities, including a pineapple maze, train rides, and delicious pineapple treats.

Further along the H2, you’ll come across the historic Waimea Valley. This lush valley is home to a botanical garden, cultural exhibits, and a stunning waterfall. It’s a perfect place to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Hawaii and learn about its rich history and traditions.

For those looking for outdoor adventures, the H2 provides access to the Wahiawa Botanical Garden. This tranquil garden is a paradise for nature lovers, featuring a diverse collection of plants, walking trails, and picnic areas. It’s an ideal spot to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

As you travel along the H2, be sure to take advantage of these captivating attractions and make the most of your journey through the Veterans Memorial Freeway.

Also read: How Much Are Rental Cars In Hawaii?

Interstate H3 – John A. Burns Freeway

Interstate H3, also known as the John A. Burns Freeway, is one of the major interstate highways in Hawaii. It is located on the island of Oahu and connects the cities of Honolulu and Kaneohe.

With its stunning views and well-maintained roads, this highway offers a convenient and scenic route for both locals and tourists.

Route Description

The Interstate H3 spans approximately 16 miles and is known for its unique design and engineering. As you drive along this freeway, you will notice its elevated sections and impressive viaducts that cut through the island’s mountainous terrain.

The highway also boasts several tunnels, including the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels, which were the first tunnels to be built in Hawaii for a highway.

One of the highlights of the H3 is the breathtaking panoramic views it offers. As you drive through the Koolau Mountain Range, you will be treated to stunning vistas of lush greenery, majestic cliffs, and cascading waterfalls.

It’s no wonder that many people consider this highway to be one of the most scenic drives in the state.

Connecting Highways

The H3 connects with several other highways, providing convenient access to various destinations on the island. One of the major connecting highways is the H1, also known as the Lunalilo Freeway.

This interchange allows for easy travel between Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the Windward side of the island.

Another important connection is with the H2, or the Veterans Memorial Highway. This interchange allows for easy access to the North Shore of Oahu, including the world-famous surfing spots such as Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay.

Driving Tips for Hawaii’s Interstates

Obeying speed limits

When driving on Hawaii’s interstates, it is important to obey the speed limits for your safety and the safety of others on the road. Speed limits are set to ensure smooth traffic flow and reduce the risk of accidents.

Remember that speeding not only puts you at risk of receiving a traffic ticket, but it also increases the likelihood of a collision. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Hawaii has to offer as you drive along the interstates.

Watching for crosswalks

While interstates are primarily designed for high-speed travel, it is important to be aware of crosswalks and pedestrian crossings. In Hawaii, pedestrians have the right of way at designated crossings, and it is your responsibility as a driver to stop and yield to them.

Pay attention to signs and markings indicating pedestrian crossings, especially when approaching urban areas or near schools. By being vigilant and respecting pedestrians, you can help create a safer driving environment for everyone.

Dealing with congestion around Honolulu

Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii, is known for its traffic congestion, particularly during rush hours. When driving on the interstates around Honolulu, it is important to plan ahead and be prepared for potential delays.

Consider using alternative routes or adjusting your travel times to avoid peak traffic hours. Additionally, be patient and maintain a safe following distance to prevent unnecessary accidents.

Remember, stress and frustration won’t make the traffic move any faster, so it’s best to stay calm and focus on your driving.

For more information on driving in Hawaii, you can visit the Hawaii Department of Transportation website. They provide up-to-date information on road conditions, construction projects, and other important updates for drivers in Hawaii.

Also read: How Long Does It Take To Drive Across Hawaii?


We hope this guide gives you a better understanding of the interstate highway system in Hawaii. With just 3 short interstate routes on Oahu, driving the highways here is less daunting than in many mainland states.

Just be sure to drive cautiously, stick to speed limits, and watch for pedestrians. Have a wonderful trip navigating the island highways and taking in Hawaii’s natural wonders. Let us know if you have any other questions!

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