Flying time is about 10 hours from New York, 8 hours from Chicago, and 5 hours from Los Angeles.
Some of the major airline carriers serving Hawaii fly directly from the U.S. mainland to Kauai, allowing you to bypass connecting flights out of Honolulu. Although Lihue Airport is smaller and more casual than Honolulu International, it can also be quite busy during peak times. Allot extra travel time during morning and afternoon rush-hour traffic periods to avoid stressing over missing a flight.
Plan to arrive at the airport approximately 60 minutes before departure for interisland flights and slightly longer than that for flights to the mainland.
Plants and plant products are subject to regulation by the Department of Agriculture, both on entering and leaving Hawaii. 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 gardenias, 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 Hawaii. If specific pre- and post-arrival requirements are met, animals may qualify for a 30-day or 5-day-or-less quarantine.
Air Travel Resources in Hawaii
State of Hawaii Airports Division Offices. 808/836–6413; www.hawaii.gov/dot/airports.
On Kauai, visitors fly into Lihue Airport, on the East Side of the island. Visitor information booths are outside each baggage-claim area. Visitors will also find news- and lei stands, an HMS Host restaurant, and a Travel Traders gift shop at the airport.
For most domestic and international flights however, Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is the main stopover. From Honolulu, there are interisland flights to Kauai departing regularly from early morning until evening. In addition, some carriers offer nonstop service directly from the U.S. mainland to Lihue Airport (LIH).
To travel interisland from Honolulu on Hawaiian Air you will depart from the connected interisland terminal. For other airlines you will leave from the commuter-airline terminal, located in a separate structure adjacent to the main terminal building. A free bus service, the Wiki Wiki Shuttle, operates between terminals.
Honolulu International Airport (HNL). 808/836–6413; www.hawaii.gov/dot/airports.
Lihue Airport (LIH). 808/274--3800; www.hawaii.gov/dot/airports.
Marriott Kauai and Kauai Beach Resort provide airport shuttles to and from the Lihue Airport. In addition, travelers who've booked a tour with Kauai Island Tours, Roberts Hawaii, or Polynesian Adventure Tours will be picked up at the airport.
SpeediShuttle offers transportation between the airport and hotels, resorts, and time-share complexes on the island. There is an online reservation and fare quote system for information and bookings. Or, you can hire a taxi or limousine. Cabs are available curbside at baggage claim. Cab fares to locations around the island are estimated as follows: Poipu $35–$41, Wailua–Waipouli $17–$20, Lihue–Kukui Grove $10, Princeville–Haena $72–$95. Kauai North Shore Limo offers service to Lihue Airport.
Uber and Lyft are somewhat recent arrivals on island, but you can still expect to pay around $75–$80 for a ride from the Airport to Princeville (approximately 30 miles).
Kauai North Shore Limo. 808/634–7260; kauainorthshorelimo.com.
SpeediShuttle. 877/242–5777; www.speedishuttle.com.
Alaska Airlines has a daily Seattle–Lihue flight. American Airlines offers a daily, nonstop Los Angeles–Kauai flight, in addition to its service into Honolulu, Maui, and the Big Island. Delta has a Los Angeles–Lihue flight and also serves Oahu (Honolulu) and Maui. United Airlines provides direct service to Lihue Airport from Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The carrier also flies into Honolulu, Maui, and the Big Island. Hawaiian offers a daily, nonstop Los Angeles–Kauai flight; all other Mainland flights require a connection in Honolulu.
Interisland flight travel has become expensive in recent years, so be ready to pay should you wish to visit neighboring islands. Hawaiian Airlines services Kauai. In addition to offering a discount for booking online, all have free frequent-flier programs that 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 days and times for island-hopping, you should have no problem getting a round-trip ticket.