Hawaii, the only all-island state, carries a year-round warm exotic allure for the whole rest of America. If you’ve never been before, it can be hard to figure out which island airport to fly into (let alone how to pronounce them). Here are a few things to know about each of the airports with non-stop flights from the mainland US, as well as some pictures of what you’ll see on the descent. Aloha!
Honolulu (pronounced “hoh-noh-LOO-loo”, airport code HNL): The busiest airport in the state on the busiest island (Oahu). It may look like the plane’s going to land on the water, but the famed reef runway was the first major runway in the world built entirely offshore on an underwater fringing coral reef. If you’re looking to spend time in a major city or on Waikiki beach, Honolulu is your only option.
Kahului (pronounced “koh-hoo-LOO-ee”, airport code OGG): The main airport for the island of Maui. This island is home to the incredible Haleakala Crater, which is believed to be a dormant volcan. If you’re looking for a mix of tourism and hiking, Maui’s a good bet.
Kona (pronounced “KO-nuh”, airport code KOA): The main airport for the island of Hawaii (which locals call “the big island” for its size and to avoid ambiguity with the state itself). The island is home to Volcanoes National Park, and Kona itself is home to its own famous variety of coffee. Think Washington state transplanted into the middle of the Pacific ocean and with more palm trees.
Hilo (pronounced “HEE-lo”, airport code ITO): This much smaller airport serves the east side of the big island, about 2 hours’ drive away from Kona. If you want a remote holiday away from stereotypical tourists, Hilo is the airport for you.
Lihue (pronounced “lee-HOO-ee”, airport code LIH): The main airport for the island of Kauai, a major resort island and an adventure traveller’s playground. The island is home to the famously beautiful Na Pali coast, which offers kayaking, hiking, and cycling trails, all with breathtaking views.