Paradise Transportation: Inter-Island Hopping

Paradise Transportation: Inter-Island Hopping

With varied landscapes and distinct allure, how can you pick just ONE Hawaiian island? Well... maybe you won't have to!

Inter-island travel is pretty easy. Let's get to it.


For most inter-island travel, you'll need to take a flight. I'd love to tell you that ferries are options but they're limited.
If you use Google Flights... you may notice a curious trend. Inter-island slights with Southwest Airlines are typically not listed! I'm not sure why, but it seems strange to me. Southwest Airlines, in my experience, has been the cheapest inter-island travel option. The last time I flew with them, when I moved from Big Island to Kauai, I saved $100 in flight costs when compared to Hawaiian Airlines *AND* they even included free luggage! Mind-blown. I will be there inter-island customer forever.

The Major Hawaiian Islands

The "major" islands are Kauai, Maui, Big Island, and Oahu. Some inter-island flights (from Big Island to Kauai, for example) will offer a layover in Oahu. Try booking a direct flight, even if you pay a little extra, because why spend time at an airport? You're in Hawaii baby, treat yourself.
Direct Flight times between all islands are no more than 45 minutes, some are as low as 20 minutes. It's awesome.

Ferry Service

I wish there were more ferry services options, because what a fantastic trip that would be, right? Unfortunately, there's a monopoly going on with a certain inter-island moving company. Sigh. Let's just say that they don't implement a ferry service for reasons behind environmental ones
There is currently a ferry that will take you between Maui and Lanai (a smaller island). The trip is on the shorter side of 1.5 hours and you might see a few dolphins on the way, if you're lucky!
If you'd want to travel between islands and enjoy the seascape, you can take use of the ferry service.

Cruise Ships

This is where things get good, if you're looking for low-key exploration. For full control of your adventures, though, I wouldn't recommend cruise ships. A lot of cruises don't offer you nearly enough time to have a proper adventure (with a rental car and all!). But if you're in the market for a low-key cruise, minimal adventures, and seeing the scenery of the different islands, then this may be for you.
Hawaiian cruises can be expensive, but it's a good way to knock sightseeing out of the park! In addition, you can simply RELAX while having most of the planning handled for you. That's always a relief.
Guests can take advantage of the ship's amenities and entertainment.

My recommendation?

It depends on what you want to do! I've lived on three islands and currently reside on Kauai. In my opinion, Kauai has the most gorgeous beaches and natural scenery. Big Island, in stark contrast, has a different type of beauty. It's all lava rock and made for hiking adventures... but not so much beach-relaxing. Maui has a little bit of everything for everyone, probably why it's so popular. Oahu is bustling with traffic and an island that I personally avoid... unless you're keen on seeing historic monuments or knocking particular hikes off the bucket list.
Renting a car is a great way to get around on your own time and see as much as possible of each island. They're usually not to expensive when you price-shop. My favorite website is to see the lowest prices, in addition to (surprisingly it gives me the best rental car prices).

Preparation and Timetables

Consider the flight's availability, frequency, and time when considering inter-island travel. Smaller airports on different islands may have fewer flights available, so planning ahead is recommended. Give yourself plenty of time between flights or ferry crossings to make sure your vacation goes off without a hitch.
Usually, for inter-island travel, I arrive to the airport 45 minute before departure time. I do have one horror story though... traveling from Maui. The security line extended outside the building and into the parking lot. It was insanity, especially with a small airport. They simply weren't equipped to handle the rush of people. While this experience has never repeated for me personally, it's worth noting that a little more time won't hurt you.


Visiting multiple islands in Hawaii is like opening a door to a new world. I highly recommend it! Organize your trip by taking into account flight times, services, and the special features of each island. Inter-island travel in Hawaii is an exciting adventure that will reveal the unique charms of each island you visit, whether you choose to fly over them or sail through their pristine waters.
IF YOU FOUND THIS ARTICLE USEFUL.... I would love for you to check out my art print store at
Back to blog