Hawaii Island Hopping: How to Visit Two Islands in One Trip

Posted by Fodor's Editors on January 26, 2010 at 1:41:45 PM EST | Post a Comment

Should you try to fit another island into your trip or stay put? Tough call. Although none of the islands are more than thirty minutes away from another by air, security hassles, transport, and check-in all swallow up precious vacation hours. If you've got less than a week, you might want to stay put. But if you're considering a longer stay in Hawaii—and we hope you are—here are some ideas for ways to expand your trip.

Ideas for Side Trips from Oahu


With a week, you can give three good tour days to Oahu (Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, and one rural venture), then head to a Neighbor Island for some serious beach time and maybe an adventure or two.

"My normal vacation is a two island trip. While I not an Oahu fan, there is much to do there. My choice would be one week on the Isle of Hawii and one week Oahu. On oahu you get the meals, shopping, culture, history, some great beaches and a nightlife. On the BI you get pristine snorkeling, hiking, more hiking, great parks, gardens, and a volcano. A few nice beaches and many places to get away from the maddening crowd." -- wbpiii

Ideas for Side Trips from the Big Island

Maui is the Big Island's closest neighbor—on a sunny day you can see it clearly from the Kohala Coast—and the flight there is barely half an hour. For nightlife-deprived visitors, a weekend trip to check out the lively bars and restaurants on Maui might be the perfect solution. If you're visiting in October, consider hopping to Maui for its famous Halloween party. Go, Aloha, and Hawaiian all offer island-hopping flights, usually at very low prices.

Ideas for Side Trips from Kauai

If you have a week or more on Kauai and you've never visited Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial and U.S.S. Missouri, you may want to consider taking a day trip to Oahu. Catch the first flight out and head straight to the Arizona Memorial, or you may risk long lines and an hours-long wait.

If you want to travel to Maui to experience the Road to Hana or to the Big Island to see Volcanoes National Park, there are few convenient nonstop flights; most lay over in Honolulu, so you'll have to plan an overnight.

Ideas for Side Trips from Maui

If you have a week or more on Maui, you may want to set aside a day or two for a trip to Molokai or Lanai. Tour operators such as Trilogy offer day-trip packages to Lanai, which include snorkeling and a van tour of the island. Ferries are available to both islands and have room for your golf clubs and mountain bike. (The Molokai channel can be rough, so avoid ferry travel on a blustery day.)

If you prefer to travel to Molokai or Lanai by air, and you're not averse to flying on 4- to 12-seaters, your best bet is a small air taxi. Book with Pacific Wings for flights to Hana, Maui, or Kalaupapa and Molokai, as well as the main airports.

Photo credit: istock/Drew Stephens

Posted in Trip Ideas Tagged: Hawaii, Escapes, Kauai

Member Comments (3)  Post a Comment

  • HunyBadger on Feb 23, 10 at 09:53 AM

    Note, Aloha Airlines is no longer operating.

  • kam77 on Feb 3, 10 at 07:34 PM

    Let me first say that I am not a Hawaii expert at all! We took our first trip to Hawaii in Dec. 2008 and decided to "see it all" since we had 2 weeks of vacation time left in the year. We started on Oahu, then the Big Island, next Maui, and finally Kaui. Our island to island flights were on Island Air; we had no problems with this airline. We spent 3 days on each island, staying in one hotel per island (Honolulu, Hilo, Kihei, Lihue). We are not swimming/snorkeling people so December was a perfect time for us to go to Hawaii. Our interests are waterfalls, gardens, light hiking, and natural wonders. It was a GREAT trip and I highly recommend visiting more than one island if possible, especially if you are an active person (not one to lay on the beach all day.) Our favorite island was Kauai because of the natural beauty (I guess they're all beautiful!)-- Waimea Canyon was spectacular with an all-day rainbow. Maui was our least favorite, but mainly because of a large storm that had just happened -- flooding streets, knocking our electrical power, and closing the beach across from our hotel. I think Maui is more known for it's beaches and shopping. I like Honolulu much more than I thought I would. It was exciting staying in the city, and being able to walk to dinner each night was very convenient. Wow, I'm ready to go back!

  • luvcorvettekaren on Jan 28, 10 at 10:41 AM

    whenever we fly to honolulu- about 1 /2 dozen times now- we always spend at least 3 nights at honolulu. then we usually spend 3 nights on the big island. 1 of our days on the big island- we usually hop on a very early flight-7am ot 8am plane, and go to maui- spend all day over there, and then come back about 8pm or 9pm. very easy to get in 2 or 3 islands when going for 1 week. when we 1st fly out- we usually get the earliest flight going into honolulu that we can. then we usually take the lastest flight leaving- so that we end up with actually another full day- usually back at honolulu- as the flights are cheaper leaving honolulu.
    off the beaten track- there is a beautiful waterfull actually in honolulu itself- on the other side of the canal. you don't know that it's there- unless you go looking for it, and then you have to hike in at least a mile. there are no signs, just a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road. don't wear sandles- wear sneakers, because the path is quite wet and muddy.but once you are up there and see it- it is just a beautiful sight !! i think someone told me that it was 120-150' long- and a big pool of water at the bottom, and a great stream to go with it !! just beautiful.