Your Guide to Hawaii Island Hopping: Say Aloha to Paradise

Layer 1

What Is Hawaii Island Hopping?

Island hopping is precisely what it sounds like — traveling from one Hawaiian island to the other, usually with the intent to visit every island for at least a short time before heading back home.

Since most people travel for at least a few hours by plane to reach the Hawaiian islands, island hopping can be a helpful way to make the most out of their trip. After all, why travel back and forth from your home city multiple times to see every Hawaiian island when you could see them all in one journey?

As you determine how to travel from island to island in Hawaii, it’s important to consider the limitations of finances or time when planning your trip. Though there are several ways to get from one island to another, it still takes time and introduces new expenses into your plan. Even so, this practice might be well worth it for your travels.

How to Travel Between Islands in Hawaii

Ever wondered how to get between islands in Hawaii? When you look at the Hawaiian islands on a map, you’ll notice that some are closer together than others. Based on this, it might seem like taking a ferry between islands might be your best choice of transportation, especially between closely neighboring islands like Honolulu and Maui.

However, flying between islands is known to be the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to plan a Hawaii island hopping vacation. Every major island in Hawaii has at least one airport serviced by multiple airlines, so finding flights between destinations that suit your schedule is easy.
Even though many inter-island flights stop in Honolulu before landing at their final destination, you won’t spend more than a few hours traveling between islands by plane, even with security check time included.

Once you book your flights, you’ll need a rental car to explore each island to the fullest. Discount Hawaii Car Rental makes this easy by providing a variety of rental cars at each airport in Hawaii. Browse our rental cars by airport to choose the perfect vehicle for your needs and budget.

Every flight within the Hawaiian islands is under one hour, though some are quicker than others. Depending on which islands you’re traveling between, making the journey by ship could take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours. There is currently only one ferry operating in Hawaii, traveling between Maui and Lanai.

Booking a cruise or ferry can create more time constraints since these expeditions occur less frequently than flights from the island airports. Additionally, traveling by boat can often be more expensive than traveling by plane. That is especially true if you take a guided island-hopping tour that coordinates your travel planning.

What Is the Cost of Island Hopping in Hawaii?

If you’re looking for the best way to island hop in Hawaii on a budget, taking flights from place to place is definitely the right choice. A one-way ticket between Hawaiian islands can cost as little as $39, although tickets can range anywhere from $50 to $100 depending on the airline, the time of day, which seating class you choose, and other factors.

Let’s say you fly into Oahu and decide to hop to two other islands and then go back to Oahu before heading home. Depending on the flights you can find, you could triple the number of islands you can visit on your journey for less than $200.

Additionally, if you book your rental car with Discount Hawaii Car Rentals, you can save even more on your Hawaii island hopping vacation! Explore our rental cars by island and book vehicle pickup and drop-off alongside your flights for a seamless travel experience.

Hawaii Island Hopping Vacation Itinerary

Now that you understand how to island hop in Hawaii inexpensively, it’s time to plan the perfect itinerary for your trip. How you go about island hopping in Hawaii will vary depending on several factors.

The first thing to consider is how much you’re willing to spend on travel between islands. If you have a limited budget, choose the top two islands you want to explore while in Hawaii and prioritize those rather than trying to see every island. You can always come back and see the other islands the next time you’re ready for a vacation.

Another essential consideration to make is your time availability. Many visitors to Hawaii will only have a week or less to spend in Hawaii, and there’s so much to do and see on these beautiful islands that you may not want to spend too much time traveling between locations. If you have more time to play with, budgeting time to take flights from island to island is worth it.

Planning your island hopping journey can be tricky without some inspiration. Here is an example of a week-long trip to Hawaii that includes island hopping without dedicating too much time to travel. With this plan, you’ll be able to see and enjoy Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island without breaking the bank or feeling rushed.

Day 1: Arrive in Oahu

Your vacation starts when you land at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Oahu. Make sure you’ve booked your Oahu rental car with Discount Hawaii Car Rentals before you arrive!
Once you’ve settled into your lodging, dropped off your luggage, and freshened up after a quick flight, it’s time to start your Oahu exploration. You may have limited time on Day 1 depending on your flight time. The best way to start is by visiting one of Honolulu’s incredible restaurants. As the capital city of Hawaii, there’s no question that Honolulu has something for every culinary preference.

Day 2: Explore Oahu

Day 2 of your itinerary is a full day on Oahu. If you want to spend a few hours swimming, surfing, or lying on the sand, you can’t go wrong with the world-famous Waikiki Beach. You’ll find plenty of gorgeous sand to lay your towel on, as well as a variety of watersports gear rentals, shops, and restaurants right on the water.
Oahu also has plenty to offer as you travel inland. This island is home to the well-known Diamond Head Crater, and visitors can find multiple hiking trails of various lengths and difficulties. Manoa Falls is another excellent place to hike if you want to experience the Hawaiian rainforest’s stunning natural beauty.

Day 3: Oahu to Maui

Now that you’ve enjoyed a jam-packed day on Oahu, it’s time to travel to the nearby island of Maui. Flights from Honolulu to Kahului Airport on Maui are only about 40 minutes long, so you’ll be at your destination before you know it. Have your Maui rental car booked with Discount Hawaii Car Rental so you can land, grab your vehicle, and get going!
We recommend booking an early flight from Oahu to Maui so you can enjoy most of the day at your new destination. Once you’ve dropped off your belongings, you can grab a bite to eat at one of Maui’s many seaside eateries. Maui’s beaches are known as some of the most beautiful among the Hawaiian islands, and you’ll have different experiences depending on which side of the island you’re visiting. Lounge on the shore and soak in the beautiful island weather.
Looking for something exceptional during your Maui visit? Snorkel with the sea turtles by taking a snorkeling tour or renting your gear and setting out in any of Maui’s prime turtle-spotting locations. Molokini is a popular snorkeling locale on Maui many visitors to the island flock to enjoy the pristine water.

Day 4: Road Trip to Hana, Maui

On your second day in Maui, we recommend taking your rental car on a road trip to Hana. The Hana Highway is a winding road from Kahului in the west to Hana in the east. It’s legendary for its whopping 620 curves and 59 bridges. The trip will highlight your visit to Maui, with up-close views of lush rainforests, waterfalls, natural pools, and the incredible Pacific.
Hana is a small, sleepy town where visitors can experience Hawaiian culture in many different ways. Hana Beach Park and Hamoa Beach are known as some of Maui’s loveliest beaches, and this less-traveled area makes for the perfect romantic getaway.

Day 5: Maui to the Big Island

It’s time to explore the Big Island after an incredible day and a half on Maui. If traveling one way, you can expect a roughly 45-minute flight from Maui to the Big Island. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, many flights out of Maui and other islands make stops in Oahu before continuing to their final destinations, which adds about an hour to your total travel time.
As always, have your Big Island rental car from Discount Hawaii Car Rental ready for your arrival so your adventure can begin immediately. Drop your bags wherever you’re staying on the Big Island and set out to explore the many unique cities, towns, and natural areas this island has to offer. There’s no shortage of incredible restaurants with a scenic ocean view no matter what side of the island you’re on.

Day 6: Explore the Big Island

When it comes to the Big Island, Kona on the western side is one of the most popular areas to explore on vacation. Between volcanoes, white-sand beaches, various oceanside villages, and so much more, you’ll find plenty to do on your day in Kona. Start the day by trying some of the region’s world-famous local coffee!
Rent some gear and go surfing, paddleboarding, or snorkeling along the inviting shores of the Big Island. Like Oahu, there are plenty of breathtaking hikes to explore around Kona and the surrounding area, including the Makuala O’Oma Trail and the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Cinder Cone Trail. A sunset catamaran is the perfect way to end your day on the Big Island.

Day 7: Departure

After six amazing days in Hawaii, it’s time to head home. Schedule your return flight as late as possible so you can soak up a few more hours on the Big Island before flying home from one of the Big Island’s three main airports.
Depending on your destination, your flight may need to stop in Honolulu before traveling across the Pacific. Make sure to plan enough time to drop off your rental car at the airport before your flight!

Plan Your Hawaiian Adventure Today

The perfect island vacation awaits you in Hawaii, and island hopping is the best way to make the most of your journey. With transportation from Discount Hawaii Car Rental, you can rest assured knowing you’ll be driving a reliable rental car at a much lower price than the competition. Get started planning your Hawaiian itinerary today by browsing rental cars by island.