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Flying time to the Big Island is about 10 hours from New York, eight hours from Chicago, five hours from Los Angeles, and 15 hours from London, not including layovers. Some of the major airline carriers serving Hawai‘i fly direct to the Big Island, allowing you to bypass connecting flights out of Honolulu. For the more spontaneous traveler, island-hopping is easy; flights depart every 20 to 30 minutes daily until midevening.
Although the Big Island's airports are smaller and more casual than Honolulu International, during peak times they can also be quite busy. Allot extra travel time to all airports during morning and afternoon rush-hour traffic periods. Plan to arrive at the airport 45 to 60 minutes before departure for interisland flights.
Plants and plant products are subject to regulation by the Department of Agriculture, both on entering and leaving Hawai‘i. Upon leaving the Islands, you'll have to have your bags X-rayed and tagged at one of the airport's agricultural inspection stations before you proceed to check-in. Pineapples and coconuts with the packer's agricultural inspection stamp pass freely; papayas must be treated, inspected, and stamped. All other fruits are banned for export to the U.S. mainland. Flowers pass except for gardenia, rose leaves, jade vine, and mauna loa. Also banned are insects, snails, soil, cotton, cacti, sugarcane, and all berry plants.
You'll have to leave dogs and other pets at home. A 120-day quarantine is imposed to keep out rabies, which is nonexistent in Hawai‘i. If specific pre- and post-arrival requirements are met, animals may qualify for a 30-day or five-day-or-less quarantine.
Airlines and Airports
Airline and Airport Links.com. Airline and Airport Links.com has links to many of the world's airlines and airports. HI. www.airlineandairportlinks.com.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. Transportation Security Administration has answers for almost every question that might come up. HI. www.tsa.gov.
Air Travel Resources in Hawai‘i
State of Hawaii Airports Division Offices (HI. 808/836–6413. www.hawaii.gov/hnl.)
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is the main stopover for most domestic and international flights. From Honolulu, there are departing interisland flights to the Big Island departing regularly from early morning until evening. Some carriers now offer nonstop service directly from the mainland to the Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO) on a limited basis. Like all of Hawai‘i's airports, the two Big Island airports are "open-air," meaning you can enjoy those trade-wind breezes until the moment you step on the plane.
Hawai‘i's major airport is Honolulu International, on O‘ahu, 20 minutes (9 mi) west of Waikiki. To travel to the Big Island from Honolulu, you can depart from either the interisland terminal or the commuter-airline terminal, located in two separate structures adjacent to the main overseas terminal building. A free bus service, the Wiki Wiki Shuttle, operates between terminals.
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) (HI. 808/836–6413. www.honoluluairport.com.)
Big Island Airports
Those flying to the Big Island of Hawai‘i regularly land at one of two fields. Kona International Airport at Keahole, on the west side, best serves Kailua-Kona, Keauhou, and the Kohala Coast. There are two Visitor Information Program (VIP) booths located at baggage claims A and B to assist travelers at the Kona International Airport. Additionally, there are news and lei stands, Maxwell's Landing restaurant and a gift shop.
Hilo International Airport is more appropriate for those going to the east side of the island. Here, visitors will find VIP booths across from the Centerplate Coffee Shop & Lounge near the departure lobby and in the arrival areas at each end of the terminal. In addition to the coffee shop, services include a Bank of Hawai‘i automatic teller machine, a gift shop, and news and lei stands. Waimea-Kohala Airport, called Kamuela Airport by residents, is used primarily for commuting among the Islands.
Hilo International Airport (ITO) (HI. 808/961–9300. www.hawaii.gov/ito.)
Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) (HI. 808/329–3423. www.hawaii.gov/koa.)
Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE) (HI. 808/887–8126. www.hawaii.gov/mue.)
Only Arnott's Lodge and the Hawai‘i Naniloa Hotel provide airport shuttles to and from the Hilo International Airport. If you're not renting a car, you'll need to take a taxi. There are 13 taxi companies serving the Hilo Airport. The approximate taxi rate is $3 flip, plus $.30 every [1/8] mile, with surcharges for waiting time at $.30 per minute and $1 per bag. Cab fares to locations around the island are estimated as follows: Banyan Drive hotels $11, Hilo town $12, Hilo Pier $13, Volcano $75, Kea‘au $22, Pahoa $50, Honoka‘a $105, Kamuela/Waimea $148, Waikoloa $188, and Kailua town $240.
At the Kona International Airport, SpeediShuttle offers transportation between the airport and hotels, resorts, and condominium complexes from Waimea to Keauhou. There is an online reservation and fare quote system for information and bookings.
SpeediShuttle (HI. 877/242–5777. www.speedishuttle.com.)
America West, American, and United fly into O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, and the Big Island. Alaska flies into O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. Delta and Northwest serve O‘ahu (Honolulu), Maui, and the Big Island. Continental flies into Honolulu.
Most domestic airline tickets are electronic; international tickets may be either electronic or paper. With an e-ticket the only thing you receive is an e-mail receipt citing your itinerary, and reservation and ticket numbers. The greatest advantage of an e-ticket is that if you lose your receipt, you can simply print out another copy or ask the airline to do it for you at check-in. You usually pay a surcharge (up to $50) to get a paper ticket, if you can get one at all.
US Airways (HI. 800/428–4322. www.usairways.com.)
American Airlines (HI. 800/433–7300. www.aa.com.)
Delta Airlines (HI. 800/221–1212 for U.S. reservations. www.delta.com.)
United Airlines (HI. 800/864–8331 for U.S. reservations; 800/538–2929 for international reservations. www.united.com.)
Alaska Airlines (HI. 800/252–7522. www.alaskaair.com.)
Air Canada (HI. 888/247–2262. www.aircanada.com.)
Westjet (HI. 888/937–8538. www.westjet.com.)
Check local and community newspapers when you're on the Big Island for deals and coupons on interisland flights, should you wish to visit neighboring islands. Go! Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, IslandAir, Mokulele Airlines and PW Express offer regular service between the islands. In addition to offering very competitive rates and online specials, all have free frequent-flier programs which will entitle you to rewards and upgrades the more you fly. Be sure to compare prices offered by all the interisland carriers. If you are somewhat flexible with your dates and times for island-hopping, you should have no problem getting a very affordable round-trip ticket.
Go! Mokulele Airlines (HI. 888/435–9462. www.iflygo.com.)
Hawaiian Airlines (HI. 800/367–5320. www.hawaiianair.com.)
Island Air (HI. 800/388–1105. www.islandair.com.)
PW Express. HI. 888/866–5022. www.flypwx.com.
In addition to its regular service between the Big Island and Maui, Mokulele Airlines also provides charter service from the Kona airport to Maui, Moloka‘I, and Lana‘i. In business since 1998, the Kona-based company also offers air tours of the Big Island. Pacific Wings offers a variety of charter options at the Hilo, Kamuela, and Kona airports and also serves Lana‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, and O‘ahu. Services include premiere (same-day departures on short notice), premium (24-hour notice), priority (48-hour notice), group, and cargo/courier services. The company also has a frequent-flier program. The cost of a round-trip between Honolulu and Kamuela purchased in advance through the company's Web site is about $600.
Paragon Air offers 24-hour private charter service to and from the Hilo, Kamuela, and Kona airports. In business since 1980, the company prides itself on its perfect safety record and has served a number of celebrities including Bill Gates, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Costner, among others. You can arrange a customized tour of the Big Island or neighboring islands, as well as air service from any airport in Hawai‘i. Charter prices start at $475.
Iolani Air Taxi (808/329–0018 or 800/538–7590. www.iolaniair.com.)
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