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With over 130 islands that make up the Hawaiian archipelago, you may be wondering what the best way is to island hop and see as much of Hawaii as possible during your vacation.

Luckily, Hawaii offers a variety of transportation options to help you get from one island to the next with ease.

If you’re short on time, the two fastest ways to travel between the major Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island are by plane or ferry.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about inter-island transportation in Hawaii, including detailed information on flights, ferries, cruises, and boating options along with pro tips from Hawaii experts to help make hopping between islands a breeze.

Flying Between the Islands of Hawaii


Overview of Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele Airlines

When it comes to flying between the Hawaiian Islands, travelers primarily have two main airline options – Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele Airlines. Both airlines provide inter-island flights to the most popular destinations across the archipelago.

Hawaiian Airlines is the major carrier in Hawaii with multiple daily flights between the islands. As the state’s largest airline, they service the major airports on the most populated islands. Hawaiian offers comfort, reliability and quality service on their inter-island flights.

In contrast, Mokulele Airlines is a smaller carrier focusing more on the state’s less traveled routes. While less well-known, Mokulele can provide economy prices to islands that may have limited flight options. Their Cessna Grand Caravan planes allow them to access Hawaii’s smaller airports.

Also read: Where Does Hawaiian Airlines Fly? A Complete Guide

Comparing Flight Options and Prices

When booking a flight between islands in Hawaii, there are a few key factors travelers should consider:

  • Airports – The airports serviced can impact convenience and price. Hawaiian Airlines flies to Honolulu, Kahului, Kona and Lihue airports while Mokulele accesses smaller airports like Kapalua, Molokai and Lanai City.
  • Routes – There are multiple daily flights connecting Honolulu with Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. But for inter-island routes bypassing Oahu, flight options may be fewer.
  • Plane size – Hawaiian Airlines uses larger Boeing and Airbus jets while Mokulele flies smaller 9-seat planes resulting in lower prices.
  • Cost – Ticket prices can vary greatly depending on route, airline, demand and dates. Fares range from $70 to $250+ roundtrip but can be higher during peak seasons.
Airline Roundtrip Fare Estimate Plane Types Islands Serviced
Hawaiian Airlines $150-$250+ Boeing 717s
Airbus A321neos
Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island
Mokulele Airlines $70-$150 Cessna Grand Caravans Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Big Island

As of 2022, Hawaiian Airlines controlled 85% of the inter-island market share while Mokulele accounted for 10%. This breakdown shows Hawaiian’s dominance for flights between the major islands. However, Mokulele opens up options for more isolated destinations.

Booking Tips for Hawaii Inter-Island Flights

To find the best fares between Hawaiian Islands, keep these money-saving pointers in mind:

  • Book early – Prices typically start low and then increase as flights fill up.
  • Be flexible – Consider flying on less popular days of the week when demand drops.
  • Check alternate airports – Nearby airports can sometimes have big differences in pricing.
  • Fly early flights – Morning flights often cost noticeably less than later in the day.
  • Consider budget airlines – Carriers like Mokulele offer stripped down service but cheaper seats.

Visiting multiple Hawaiian Islands has never been easier thanks to frequent and affordable flights shuttling passengers between the islands.

Whether opting for the comforts of Hawaiian Airlines or the economy pricing of Mokulele Airlines, inter-island travelers have more options than ever to island hop.

Taking a Ferry Between Islands in Hawaii

Inter-Island Ferry Routes and Options

There are a few ferry companies offering routes between some of the major Hawaiian Islands. The main inter-island ferry routes include:

  • Maui to Lanai – Expeditions ferry offers multiple daily crossings
  • Maui to Molokai – Molokai Princess ferry has daily crossings
  • Oahu to Maui – There is no direct ferry, but you can connect via Molokai or Lanai
  • Kauai and Hawaii (Big Island) currently have no inter-island ferry services

The fast ferries used for inter-island transport can make the journey in 1-3 hours depending on the route. Most ferries allow you to take your car and will have space for luggage and bikes.

Ferries offer an affordable alternative to flying between islands – plus you get to enjoy beautiful ocean views along the way!

Also read: How To Get Around In Hawaii: The Complete Guide

Ferry Ticket Information and Pricing

Ferry ticket prices in Hawaii vary by route and company, but are typically $60-100 per adult for a one-way trip. Discounts are usually available for seniors, children, residents and military.

Here’s a comparison of sample weekday ferry fares:

Route Ferry Company Sample Adult Fare
Maui to Lanai Expeditions $60-100 one-way
Maui to Molokai Molokai Princess $70 one-way
It’s recommended to book ferry tickets in advance when possible, especially during peak season when they may sell out. Most companies allow online booking via their website or call center.

Travel agents can also help arrange ferry transportation as part of an island-hopping package.

Tips for Taking a Hawaii Ferry

Taking the ferry between Hawaiian Islands can be an unforgettable experience! Here are some tips:

  • Arrive at least 30-60 minutes before departure time to park and load luggage
  • Pack medications and anything you may need during the 1-3 hour journey
  • Bring layers – it can get breezy and chilly out on the deck
  • If prone to motion sickness, take medication beforehand or try to sit in a stable spot
  • Walk around the ferry to soak in different vantage points – don’t just sit the whole time
  • Capture photos and video to remember your island-hopping adventure

Taking the inter-island ferry enables you to immerse in the beauty of Hawaii while traveling between destinations. Enjoy ocean views, marine life sightings, and cultural exchanges as you cruise between islands!

Also read: What To Pack For Your Hawaii Vacation: The Ultimate Packing List

Hawaii Island Hopping Cruises


Types of Island Hopping Cruises

There are a few main types of island hopping cruises to choose from in Hawaii:

  • Multi-Island Cruises: These cruises visit 3-4 islands like Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island over the course of 7-14 days. You get to wake up to a new island each morning!
  • Inter-island Cruises: These trips go back and forth between two islands, usually over 3-5 days. Common routes are between Maui and Lanai or Maui and Molokai.
  • Day Cruise Options: If you’re short on time, there are catamarans and yachts that offer day trips to visit neighboring islands. For example, snorkeling at Lanai when staying on Maui.

Most Popular Cruise Itineraries in Hawaii

According to the 2022 Hawaii Tourism Report, the top island hopping cruise routes booked are:

  • 7-night cruise: Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai
  • 10-night cruise: Oahu, Maui, Hilo, Kona, Kauai, Nawiliwili
  • 5-day cruise: Maui to Lanai and back

These multi-stop cruises allow you to wake up at a new location each morning to maximize your island explorations.

With so many incredible sights across Hawaii, cruising gives you a delightful taste of each unique island.

Island Unique Highlights
Oahu Famous Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head Crater
Maui Haleakala Volcano, Road to Hana, Whale Watching
Kauai Waimea Canyon, Na Pali Coast, Tropical Hiking Trails
Big Island Volcanoes National Park, Black Sand Beaches, Kona Coffee

Also read: When Is The Best Time To Cruise To Hawaii?

What to Expect on an Island Hopping Cruise

Island hopping cruises through Hawaii offer vacationers an easy way to island hop in style.

You can expect an amazing itinerary visiting the most popular ports of call, with a variety of onshore excursions and adventures to choose from at each stop.

Most Hawaii cruises will have some fun onboard activities like Hawaiian dance and language lessons, cliff diving competitions at the onboard pool, nightly luaus with fire dancers, as well Spa treatments featuring local ingredients like Kona coffee scrubs or orchid massages.

The islands themselves offer endless natural wonders to explore like coral reef snorkeling, jungle ziplining adventures, or horseback rides through valleys of waterfalls.

With some pre-planning, you can make the most out of each port by booking ahead for the top tours and activities offered on each island.

That way you come back with memories to last a lifetime!

Whether you select a 7-day cruise to hit the highlights or really go big with a 2 week sailing – island hopping Hawaii by cruise ship lets you see the beauty of the Aloha State all while unpacking just once.

Who wouldn’t love waking up to sweeping island vistas out their stateroom balcony each morning? With so much paradise to take in across the islands, cruising Hawaii is an incredible way to go.

Boating Between the Hawaiian Islands

Private Boats and Yacht Charters

One of the most adventurous and memorable ways to island hop in Hawaii is by private boat or chartered yacht. This allows you the flexibility to create your own itinerary, visit secluded beaches and coves, and take the ocean route less traveled.

There are a few options for booking a private vessel, depending on your budget and plans:

– Bareboat charters – You rent the boat without a crew and captain it yourself. This is a budget-friendly option for experienced sailors.
– Crewed yacht charters – A crew operates the vessel while you relax and enjoy the ride. Luxury crewed yachts offer a high-end island hopping experience.
– Fishing charters – Many boats can be privately chartered for fishing, diving, and snorkeling adventures around the islands.

Requirements and Logistics for Inter-Island Boating

Before embarking on an inter-island boating adventure, be sure you understand the legal requirements and logistical considerations:

  • You’ll need a state Boaters Card for operating power driven vessels.
  • Vessels must be properly registered and insured.
  • Pack nautical maps, GPS, VHF radio, flares, lifejackets and other safety equipment.
  • Be aware of changeable weather and sea conditions in Hawaii that can impact routes.
  • Plan marina stops on various islands for fueling, provisioning, waste pump outs, etc.
  • Obtain proper permits for visiting certain protected coastal areas and nature preserves.
  • Follow all regulated zones and restricted areas around the islands.

Tips from Locals for Boating Between Islands

Experienced Hawaii boaters offer these useful tips for smooth inter-island journeys:

  • Start off each day early to take advantage of calmer morning waters.
  • Pack plenty of sunscreen, hats, shade shelters, food, and water.
  • Always watch the weather and adjust your schedule accordingly.
  • Bring Dramamine as a precaution for guests prone to seasickness.
  • Consider installing stabilizers on vessels under 40 feet for a smoother ride.
  • Make sure your boat can cruise at 15+ knots to efficiently cover long distances between islands.

So set your sails between the Hawaiian Islands for an epic adventure discovering hidden coves and beaches few visitors ever experience!

Also read: Everything You Need To Know About Taking The Ferry From Oahu To Kauai


With flight, ferry, cruise and private boating options readily available, getting between the Hawaiian Islands is easier than ever. Now that you know how to go island hopping in Hawaii, the hardest part is deciding which islands to visit.

Choose the transportation option that best fits your budget, schedule and interests. And get ready for an unforgettable island-hopping adventure discovering paradise!

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