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Hawaii Island hopping

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
15 posts
Hawaii Island hopping

Hi everyone, I am currently trying to plan my first trip to Hawaii for late January/February. I have been so torn about doing Island hoping via a cruise or flying. In the end I think I have decided on flying simply because I want to see each island for more than just a day and the only cruise starting and ending in Honolulu is only a 7 day one. I am considering doing a 17 day trip consisting of 4 nights in Honolulu, 3 nights in Kauai, 5 nights in Maui, 4 nights in BI and 2 final nights in Honolulu before our flight home. I am wondering if this is too action packed a vacation? I think we have a decent amount of time in each island to see the highlights and flying time between each is relatively short as I have sourced direct flights. My main concern is also how long does it take to get to airports etc from major hotel areas on each island? I'm so conflicted, any advice or help is greatly appreciated! :)

Level Contributor
22,861 posts
1. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

You *could* do this, but most of us on the forums will say you are spending too much time in transit. Yes, the flight times are only about 30 minutes, but you will spend at least three hours, door-to-door every time you 'hop'. Fares are running $80 pp per hop. You won't be anywhere long enough to get on "Island Time" and soak in the Aloha. Hawaii isn't a 'check list' sort of vacation.

If you MUST see four islands, I'd urge the cruise. Then hop to ONE island for a week and return to Oahu pre-departure. I'd suggest a condo on you chosen island.

You are late getting this arranged. As soon as you know where you will stay, rent a car there for airport pickup. Winter brings whales and snowbirds avoiding harsh weather on the US mainland.

Destination Expert
for Maui
Level Contributor
23,100 posts
19 reviews
2. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

Well you will be able to write a very detailed TR about all the airports in HAwaii! :-)

All I'm saying is PLEASE don't do this... follow Chisue's advice and work the cruise in if you simply "must" see 4 islands. IF you try to hop to all 4 islands you will see a tiny bit of each but will "feel" none of them.

Level Contributor
9,528 posts
47 reviews
3. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

This itinerary is waaaay.....too ambitious. It might look doable on paper to you, but in reality.......just over the top.

A Hawaiian vacation for 17 nights is a wonderful. thing...but to encompass 4 Islands in that time frame (plus one Island twice).....just doesn't jive.

4 nights on the Big Island barely scratches the surface. Many folks like to see both East & West sides of the Island.....Too much driving. Either increase to time frame to a week or save the visit for another time.

All of the neighbor islands require a rental car(car hire)....with all of your days chopped up....the best rates will elude you...as a 5 day rental is often the same price as a week.

As others have commented, you will lose a HUGE portion of time in all the airports....not to mention checking out.....waiting to check -in. Rather vagabond.

I understand the return flights to Oz are often early in the day...so you may want to leave the Waikiki/ Oahu portion of your trip until the end. That will allow you to be on -island and can get all the shopping you want without having to drag it all around the other Islands. I realize you originally planned for last 2 nights on Oahu...but I am suggesting not to split the Oahu stay.

Upon arrival in Hawaii....proceed to your first Inter-island destination...i.e.. Maui, Kauai, Big Island. I would visit one additional neighbor on the trip (total 2) for a grand total visited of 3...which includes Oahu.

This will fly by as it is.

So....something like Maui 7 nights, Kauai 7 nights, Oahu 4 nights...Home

It will allow you to somewhat settle in .....relax & soak up the flavor of each Island........without such a frenetic pace.

Though I am a BIG fan of Big Island...unless you choose to sub it for either Maui or Kauai...take a pass this time. A 4 night visit there would have you spinning .

Safe travels

No California
Level Contributor
260 posts
31 reviews
4. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

My reply is going to go against the conventional wisdom of not trying to pack too many islands into too few days. Keep in mind I am only a 5 hour flight from Hawaii yet never come for less than 14 days and never do more than 2 islands in those 14 days. So that tells you a little bit about how I do Hawaii each year.

However, I've gone to China for 30 days and never spent more than 3 nights in any one place (including 3 inter China flights and a couple of overnight train rides). Did I do China wrong? If I had to do it all over again, I would do it exactly the same. I was going to see the country not relax.

I'm planning a 30 day trip to Australia and New Zealand (2 weeks each). Once again I doubt we will spend more than 3 or 4 nights in any one place. Going to see the country, not to relax. Would it be better if I had a week to spend in each location we want to visit? Absolutely! But that would take months of travel that we just don't have.

So what type of visit to Hawaii are you interested in? Settling down and getting into the rhythm of the island? Long lazy days at the beach, exploring all the island has to offer? Do you feel you will come back in the next few years? If this is the case then I fully agree you need to cut back and skip an island or two.

But if you are willing to fly with carryon luggage only (which cuts down time standing in line to check and retrieve bags), and are looking for an adventure and not a relaxing vacation, then I think you have more options. I fully agree with Wanderlust that you would be better lumping all your Oahu time at the end of your trip. Especially if you love to shop like a lot of Aussies on this board. Purchase an extra bag in Oahu and shop till you drop.

Only you know how you like to travel, what kind of down time you need in order to enjoy yourself, and what the chances are of you coming back again in the future. Good luck with your decision.

Level Contributor
11,479 posts
1 review
5. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

I would chose three islands for 17 days.

3 nights on Kauai is not enough

4 nights on The Big Island is not enough for such a big place.

Remember, not only will you have to deal with packing, checking out, the airport, but you will have to rent a car on each island other than Oahu.

Big Island, Hawaii
Level Contributor
31,162 posts
6. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

Depending on your interests and budget, I would either drop the first four nights on Oahu and allocate them to Kauai and the Big Island, or drop the four nights on the Big Island and last two nights on Oahu and allocate them to Kauai and Maui with maybe a night or two on Lanai.

Kapaa, Hawaii
Level Contributor
52,717 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

I have found that it takes me 3 hours from point to point. That includes checking out of hotels, returning rental cars, getting baggage, checking in and going through security at the airports and getting to my next destination, driving time and flying time!! For the island of Hawaii, I don't know how that would work, I've never been there, but for Oahu, Maui and Kauai it works just fine.

You're itinerary is jam packed, but some people love to do it this way, others don't. That is what makes each of us unique human beings!!

Burr Ridge, Illinois
Level Contributor
4,289 posts
102 reviews
8. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

It all depends on your travel style and makes you happy when you travel.

There is no right or wrong answer as travelers differ on how to explore.

I like to move faster than most and like your schedule. I'm a DIY type and since you have time do the trip via air travel and on your own.

You will find inter-island travel enjoyable and effortless if you are use to travel. Going by plane is like grabbing a taxi in Hawaii.

I suggest buying the tickets that allow you to fly stand-by so if you get to the airport earlier you can fly faster.

Live and travel the your dreams and not our dreams.

Have a good time.

Bayonne, France
Level Contributor
11,349 posts
9. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

Go for it....

You have made a wonderful vacation plan.

Maybe not the ultimate in relaxation, but you will definitely get a solid taste of each island and have a most memorable vacation.

Sure, it's a little fast-paced, but don't be pushed from a full Hawaii experience by posters who have many trips and place emphasis on low-key relaxation.

Travel in the middle of the day, timing works well with hotel check-out/check-in, and allows you to find a place to have lunch outside the typical visitor areas.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
15 posts
10. Re: Hawaii Island hopping

Hmm.. thanks for all of the advice guys! I really don't think I want to do the cruise option so I might just have to compromise and drop my "hopping" down to three islands instead of four. I think I'm just going to have to moll it all over for a little longer. I really think all four have good aspects though, haha I just want to see it all! What is everyone's top three?