Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

If you’re planning a trip to Oahu and wondering how you’ll get there, you’ve likely asked yourself: what airport is in Oahu, Hawaii? Luckily, as Hawaii’s most populous island and a top tourist destination, Oahu offers easy accessibility through a major international airport.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is the main airport in Oahu, Hawaii.

Honolulu International Airport Acts as Oahu’s Primary Airport

Location and History of HNL

Honolulu International Airport, also known as HNL, is located in the Honolulu district of Oahu, just 3 miles northwest of downtown Honolulu. It serves as the primary commercial airport for the entire island of Oahu.

HNL first opened in March 1927 as John Rodgers Airport, named after a naval commander. It was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947 and became Honolulu International Airport in 1951. Major expansions and renovations of the airport took place in 1970 and 1993.

Today, HNL has two main terminals with dozens of gates that handle flights from airlines all across the globe.

Size and Passenger Statistics of the Airport

Spanning approximately 4,520 acres, HNL is one of the largest airports in the United States. It has two paved runways measuring 12,000 feet and 8,000 feet respectively. In 2022, over 18 million passengers traveled through HNL, making it one of the 30 busiest airports in the country.

To handle such high traffic, HNL has 34 aircraft gates divided between the interisland and overseas terminal buildings. The airport offers nonstop flights to major hubs in Asia, Oceania, North America, and other Hawaiian islands.

Some of the most popular routes are Honolulu to Los Angeles, Honolulu to Las Vegas, and Honolulu to Maui.

In the coming years, HNL aims to expand its services and facilities further to accommodate rising visitor numbers. The airport is investing over $3 billion in upgrades like consolidating aircraft operations, adding more gates and lounges, improving baggage handling, and enhancing the overall passenger experience.

Accessibility and Transportation Options at HNL

Accessibility within the Airport

Honolulu International Airport was designed with accessibility in mind. The terminals feature wide corridors and gate areas to accommodate travelers using wheelchairs or other mobility devices. There are also many elevators, escalators, and moving walkways between levels.

For those who need assistance navigating the airport, HNL has an ADA team available 24/7. Travelers can request escorts to departure gates or other airport services. There are also electric carts stationed throughout the terminals to transport passengers with limited mobility.

Service animals are welcome inside the airport and relief areas can be found near the Wiki Wiki bus station and inside the Diamond Head Concourse.

Other accessible services and amenities at HNL include:

  • Accessible restrooms with support bars and tables for changing
  • Padded chairs with armrests around the terminals
  • Visual paging for travelers with hearing impairments
  • TTY telephones to assist deaf or speech-impaired visitors

Transportation from the Airport

There are many transportation options for getting to and from Honolulu International Airport on Oahu.

The most popular and economical way is by riding TheBus routes 19, 20, or 31. TheBus serves major hotels and destinations in Waikiki, downtown Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and other parts of the island. Standard one-way adult bus fare is $2.75 and buses run every 20-60 minutes depending on the route.

Travelers can pay using cash or a prepaid visitor pass.

Other public transit options include:

  • Wiki Wiki shuttle bus to nearby rental car facilities – Fare: Free
  • Roberts Hawaii Express shuttle to Waikiki hotels – Fare: $16 one-way for adults
  • SpeediShuttle shared van to various hotels – Fare: $16.95+ one-way for adults

App-based rideshares like Uber and Lyft operate at HNL with typical fares between $35-50+ to Waikiki. Taxi services are also available for hire at designated zones outside the baggage claim area. Expect to pay $45-65 for a taxi to Waikiki depending on traffic conditions.

For travelers preferring to drive, a dozen rental car agencies have desks across the street from the airport. Travelers can comparison shop companies like Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National for the best HNL rental car rates.

Compact cars typically rent for around $70-100 per day including taxes and fees.

Alternative Airports and Travel Options for Oahu

Oahu is home to Hawaii’s busiest airport, Honolulu International Airport (HNL), which serves over 21 million passengers per year. However, for those looking to avoid the crowds or access other parts of the island, there are some great alternative options.

Kapalua Airport

On the west side of Oahu lies Kapalua Airport, a small regional facility that primarily serves commuter flights to the islands of Molokai and Lanai. With just a single runway and minimal facilities, Kapalua offers a quiet and hassle-free airport experience.

The airport can be a good option for travelers aiming to escape the hustle and bustle of HNL.

Dillingham Airfield

Located on Oahu’s North Shore, Dillingham Airfield handles small aircraft and air tours. This laidback airport with rural surroundings mainly serves private pilots and North Shore visitors looking to enjoy aerial sightseeing tours.

Companies like Air Tours Hawaii and Paradise Helicopters operate helicopter tours from the airport.

Getting Around Without Flying

While flying is the quickest way to hop between islands, there are alternative methods of transportation travelers can take to explore Oahu:

  • The public bus system, called TheBus, offers an affordable and extensive network throughout Oahu. Buses run frequently from early morning until late evening.
  • Renting a car allows maximum flexibility to stop at any destination on the island. Companies like Alamo, Hertz, and Enterprise have rental locations across Oahu.
  • Taxis are readily available at hotels and shopping centers, though the cost can add up quickly.

Whether looking to avoid airport hassles or needing to travel car-free, visitors have great non-air travel options for getting around on Oahu. Between the simple bus system, abundant car rentals, and local taxis, transport throughout the island is readily accessible.

Planning Your Arrival to Oahu via Airport

Checking Flight Options

The main airport servicing Oahu is Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), located just west of downtown Honolulu. This busy airport offers numerous domestic and international flight options on major carriers like Hawaiian Airlines, United, Delta, American, and more.

When booking your flight, you’ll likely connect through a major mainland hub like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or Denver.

Depending on when you visit Oahu, flight availability can vary. The island’s high season for tourism is approximately mid-December through mid-April. During this busy stretch, flights tend to fill up faster and airfares are generally more expensive.

For cheaper rates, consider traveling in the spring, fall or even summer.

Once you’ve secured airline tickets, be sure to use online check-in to choose seats and print boarding passes in advance. This will make navigating HNL quicker upon arrival. Most airlines allow check-in 24 hours prior to scheduled departure times.

Navigating HNL Upon Arrival

After landing at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, you’ll need to make your way through immigration and customs before officially entering Hawaii. With thousands of visitors passing through HNL daily, lines can get long, so patience is key!

If you haven’t already acquired Hawaiian Reef ID cards for checking in to hotels, now is the time. Multiple visitor information booths are located just past airport customs where you can register for free reef cards. These IDs help protect Hawaii’s fragile coral reefs by educating tourists.

Ground transportation options for getting around Oahu include taxis, shuttle vans, and rental cars. Taxis are plentiful but pricey, with fares costing $45+ between HNL and popular Waikiki hotels. Door-to-door shuttle vans can be more affordable, though you may make multiple stops.

Renting a car is best for exploring the island freely, but navigating Honolulu traffic and finding parking takes getting used to.

If traveling light, the island’s public bus system (TheBus) also services routes between the airport, Waikiki, downtown Honolulu, and various attractions around Oahu. TheBus costs $2.75 per ride using reusable prepaid passes or coins.

Don’t Forget the Return Trip Home from HNL!

After an amazing vacation on the beautiful island of Oahu, the last thing you want is a stressful return trip home from Honolulu International Airport (HNL). Proper planning and preparation can help ensure your departure goes smoothly.

Allow Enough Time for Check-In and Security

Be sure to arrive at HNL at least 2-3 hours before your flight to allow sufficient time for checking luggage, clearing security, and getting to your gate. Weekends and holidays are often busier, so leave even more time those days.

Most airlines close check-in 60 minutes before domestic flights and 90 minutes before international flights.

HNL has two terminals—the overwhelming majority of flights depart from the interisland Terminal 1, while most international and some mainland flights use Terminal 2. Make sure you know which terminal your airline uses to avoid any confusion.

Getting Through Security at HNL

The TSA security checkpoint lines at HNL can vary greatly depending on the time of day. According to the TSA’s reported wait times, early morning and late evening usually have the shortest lines under 30 minutes, while midday waits can exceed 60-90 minutes at peak travel times.

To speed things along, be prepared before entering the security queue—have your ID and boarding pass out, electronics easily accessible, liquids/gels packed properly, and shoes easy to remove. Expert travelers recommend using TSA PreCheck if possible to bypass some inspection lines.

Once through security, there are many shops and restaurants to enjoy while you wait to board.

Transportation Options for Leaving HNL

HNL offers abundant ground transportation choices upon arrival to take you straight to your hotel. Taxi queues can have long waits, so consider faster options like the rental car center shuttles, hotel courtesy shuttles, or pre-arranged transportation from transportation network companies.

When departing Oahu at the end of your fabulous island getaway, here are some transportation options to consider for getting back to HNL airport conveniently:

  • Hotel shuttle bus – many hotels offer complimentary shuttles, be sure to schedule in advance
  • Rental car return – drop off at a HNL rental car facility before your flight
  • Taxi or rideshare service app – convenient but can get pricey during peak times
  • Public transportation – TheBus Routes 19 and 20 service the airport area

With proper planning ahead, your return trip home from Honolulu International Airport can be just as stress-free as your vacation on the beautiful island of Oahu!


In summary, Honolulu International Airport is the major airport serving Oahu, Hawaii. With ample accessibility and plentiful land and air transportation options into Waikiki, Honolulu, and the rest of the island, HNL makes it easy for visitors to begin and end their vacations in paradise.

By familiarizing yourself with HNL ahead of time and planning transportation, navigating your flights will be smooth sailing.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts