Can You Drive to Hawaii from the Mainland?

If you’re planning a trip, you might wonder, ‘Can you drive to Hawaii?’

The remote islands of Hawaii are a dream vacation destination for many people. With gorgeous beaches and glorious mountains, they have unparalleled beauty.

Read on to learn all about how to get to this tropical paradise! 

View of a beach in Hawaii under a purple sky.

Table of Contents

Can you drive to Hawaii?

While I wish it were possible to drive to Hawaii, the remote location of these beautiful islands makes it impossible. However, there are a couple of options for getting to Hawaii. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Why can’t you drive to Hawaii?

These islands are in a remote location in the Pacific Ocean. There are over 2,400 miles of open ocean surrounding the archipelago. Without land connections, a road trip to Hawaii would be quickly foiled.

Aerial view of Napali Coast in Kauai Island
Napali Coast

Ship your own car to Hawaii

If you plan on moving to Hawaii, shipping your car to the island might be worthwhile. Due to its remote location, it’s common for vehicles to sell for higher prices on the island than the same make and model would on the mainland.

πŸ’° How much does it cost to ship a car to Hawaii?

Car shipping costs depend on various factors, including your vehicle’s size and the departure port you’re shipping from. 

Typically, it’s a good idea to budget at least $2,000 to ship a car to Hawaii. You’ll find better deals if you ship it directly from a departure port in California.

3 Ways How to Get to Hawaii

While you might not be able to drive to Hawaii, you still have some options for getting to these remote islands. 

View of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Hotel under a blue sky.
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Hotel

✈ By plane

The most common way to get to Hawaii is by plane. With over 151 flights from the mainland USA and Hawaii daily, you’ll find plenty of options to fit your itinerary. 

Chances are you’ll also be able to find a direct flight to the island you plan to visit. Otherwise, you’ll have a quick layover in Honolulu before taking a short “island hop” to your primary destination. 

βœ” Five major airports in Hawaii

Each island in Hawaii has at least one major airport. Depending on which island you want to visit, you’ll want to look for one of these five airports.

View of the majestic Kalalau Valley covered with green trees.
Kalalau Valley
πŸ›« Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Honolulu, Oahu (HNL)

Only 10 miles away from Waikiki, this airport has 4 runways and a charming indoor/outdoor design.  

πŸ›« Kahului Airport, Maui (OGG)

The main airport in Maui is a small, easy-to-navigate airport with a welcoming atmosphere and casual vibe. It’s not unusual to see birds flying around the gates! 

πŸ›« Hilo International Airport, Hawaii Island (ITO)

2 miles east of Hilo, this is a comfortable dual-level airport. Enjoy the floral and tropical plants that decorate the terminals. 

Aerial view of Napali Coast in Hawaii.
Napali Coast
πŸ›« Ellison Onizuko Kona International Airport, Hawaii Island (KOA)

With runways constructed in the middle of lava fields, this airport has an open-air terminal structure and mobile outdoor stairs for disembarking the planes.

πŸ›« Lihue Airport, Kauai (LIH)

This centrally located airport is surrounded by stunning scenery. 

Several movies have been filmed in this airport! 

🚒 By cruise ship

Another popular way to get to Hawaii is to take a cruise! This is the way to go if you want to get to Hawaii without flying. Most cruises to Hawaii visit four islandsβ€” Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. 

Departing from the West Coast, typical round-trip cruises last 15 nights.  

No matter what time of year you go, the climate will be temperate and warm.

View of Oahu Beach with blue water surrounded by white sand.
Oahu, Hawaii

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ Spring Cruise Season (April – June)

Spring is one of the best times to book a Hawaii cruise. Typically, Hawaii is less busy during this time frame, and cruises are better priced. 

Weather on the islands is also ideal, with only occasional rain. 

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ Off-peak Season (September – early December)

More cruises are running during this time frame, giving you more options. The islands are a little more full and busy, but they won’t be at their peak!

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ Family Holiday Season (June- August)

The weather is at its hottest and driest during the summer months. Interested in learning to surf? This is the best time of year for that!

View of a road going to Maui.

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ Winter Cruise Season

The winter season in Hawaii is the busiest time of the year, with a significant influx of tourists escaping the cold of their homes during the holidays. You’re likelier to see humpback whales as they arrive mid-December until early March.

β›΅ By boat

Sadly, there’s no car ferry to Hawaii, so the only other way is by boat. If you have a sailboat and want to take a trip to Hawaii, you’ll need to plan for at least 2 weeks. 

Road in Hawaii under the sunset.
Road in Hawaii

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ What to bring for a boat trip to Hawaii?

You’ll need lightweight cotton and moisture-wicking shirts for a boat trip to Hawaii. 

Lightweight bottoms (shorts, skirts, etc.). 

Multiple swimsuits, cover-ups, and sunglasses or hats. 

Bringing a lightweight sweater and one nice outfit is a good idea.

How can I drive in Hawaii?

While it’s possible to have a fantastic vacation in Hawaii without driving, I highly recommend renting a car to get the most out of the islands!

You’ll find Hawaii to be a beautiful and enjoyable place to drive. The aloha spirit is present on the roads, and they’re easy to navigate.  

πŸš— Rent a car in Hawaii

To rent a car in Hawaii, you must have a valid driver’s license and a credit card and be at least 21 years of age. 

Trying to figure out where to start? Check out Discover Cars for some great deals! Plus, they offer free cancellation, which is always a plus. 

View of a wooden road sign going to Hawaii.

πŸ‘πŸ» Pros of driving in Hawaii

Hawaii is a great place to drive. Driving in Hawaii is significantly less stressful than in other areas of the world or even the mainland USA. 

People are happy to let you merge into your lane, and it’s rare to hear anyone honk. 

“Island time,” the slower-paced lifestyle inherent to the islands, is reflected in the speed limits. 

The freeway on Oahu typically has a maximum speed limit of 55 mph!

πŸ‘ŽπŸ» Cons of driving in Hawaii

One of the biggest cons of driving in Hawaii is the gas prices. With prices close to $5 per gallon, you’ll be spending a pretty penny filling up your tank. 

Driving in parts of Hawaii is more stressful if you’re not used to single-lane roads and one-way bridges. 

View of a road going to Kauai Valley.
Kauai Valley

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ What are the roads to take for a scenic ride in Hawaii?

One of Hawaii’s most famous scenic drives is on my home island of Maui!

The Road to Hana is a winding state highway that follows the northern coast of Maui by the rainforest, beaches, waterfalls, and gorgeous cliffside views. 

On Oahu, the Kamehameha Highway takes you through Diamond Head State Monument, punchbowl crater, and beautiful beaches. 

Check out the Mauna Loa Road scenic drive on Highway 11 west from Volcano Village on Big Island. This drive will take you past a koa forest and get panoramic views from the top. 

Is Hawaii worth visiting?

Hawaii is definitely worth visiting! No matter what kind of vacation you’re interested in, there’s something for you. Relax on the beach, hike in the mountains, snorkel, or take a boat ride; Hawaii has it all. 

View of sea shore in Hawaii during sunset

πŸ“Œ When is the best time to go to Hawaii?

The best time to visit Hawaii is between March and September. You’ll get the highest temperatures and the lowest amount of rain. If you’re interested in surfing, there are usually southwest swells during the summertime.

If you want to see the humpback whales, come between December and March. The humpbacks migrate to Hawaii every year and give birth/mate in warm shallow waters.  

πŸ“Œ What to bring when going to Hawaii?

Casual clothing and comfortable shoes are a must for any Hawaii trip! Bring a hat or sunglasses and a camera to capture the beautiful sights.

Reef-safe sunscreen is a must! Leave it at home if your sunscreen has active ingredients other than zinc or titanium dioxide. 

View a road sign of Hawaii and an airplane in the sky.

Things to Do in Hawaii

One of my favorite things about Hawaii is how much there is to do. Being such small islands in the middle of the Pacific, they have a rich culture and beauty.  

 1. Enjoy a sunset coastal view as you experience Hawaiian traditions

4.0 ⭐ 3,030 Reviews

Enjoy a traditional Hawaiian Luau with amazing coastal views at Paradise Cove in Oahu! Enjoy 3 hours of authentic Hawaiian food and entertainment with musicians, hula, and fire dancers.

This luau is an unforgettable way to experience Hawaiian culture. Plus, who doesn’t love a reason to dress up?

The interaction with the audience was great! I loved all of the things to do before dinner and show.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ KayCee_W, May 2023
View of Hawaiian dancers on stage performing.
Experience Hawaiian traditions and dress up on this amazing tour!

2. Swim in a sunken volcano and snorkel with turtles

4.5 ⭐1,210 Reviews

I’ve been lucky enough to get to go out to Molokini a variety of times.

You get to snorkel in the sunken crater and see tons of fish and brilliant coral. I’ve seen a couple of moray eels and even an octopus while at Molokini! 

A second stop on the tour will take you to another coral reef, where you’ll see green sea turtles swimming around or getting their shells cleaned. Food and drink are provided. 

Fun trip. Glad we did it. Two good snorkeling locations. The skipper and crew were excellent. All the gear you need.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Randy_H, May 2023
View of a sea turtle in Hawaii swimming.
Have an amazing experience as you swim with sea turtles on this tour!

3. Relax in a Kaanapali sunset luau and witness a traditional Polynesian dance show

4.5 ⭐692 Reviews

One of the best Luau on the island of Maui, the Kaanapali Luau has a fantastic backdrop and even better Polynesian dancers and traditional foods.

Sample all the different flavors traditional to the islands at the all-you-can-eat-buffet and learn about the rich history.

Weather and ocean conditions permitting, you’ll also witness a cliff diver leap into the ocean from BlackRock just offshore. 

The Hawaiian wedding song. I watched Blue Hawaii with Elvis Presley at age 11 and now at 62 it brought back excellent memories for me. Danced with my husband of 43 years at the Luau thank you.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Cathey_H, May 2023
View of the Hawaiian dancers performing with fire.
Be amazed as you watch these amazing Polynesian dancers on this tour.

4. Visit the historical site of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial

4.5 ⭐ 1,202 Reviews

If you are in Oahu, you must visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

Explore the exhibits that take you back to 1941 and see the USS Arizona Memorial. Learn about the pivotal moments in US history during WWII and pay your respects to the fallen heroes.  

Picked up on time,tour guide was great,gave us a run of the tour in full. Recommended tour to visit uss Arizona.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ David_H, May 2023
View of the ship in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Admire the historical site of Pearl Harbor on this tour.

5. Go on a whale-watching cruise in Maui

4.5 ⭐1,414 Reviews

A whale-watching cruise is an absolute must-do during the winter months in Maui. Hop onboard your vessel in Lahaina and learn all about these majestic creatures. 

Naturalists on board will explain what the whales are doing, and you’ll even get the opportunity to hear them singing. 

You’ll see a whale breach up close and personal if you’re lucky. Truly inspiring!

Wonderful trip, we were able to see whales even though it was the end of the season. I would recommend this excursion to anyone.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Teresa_B, May 2023
View of the humpback whale in Hawaii jumping out.
Admire these beautiful sea creatures up-close on this tour.

6. Snorkel with manta rays and watch the Konta sunset

5.0 ⭐2,882 Reviews

For a unique experience on the Big Island, look no further than a night snorkel with manta rays.

Watch the sunset and then get taken with your expert guide to an offshore location where you’ll hop in the water and see giant manta rays feeding and interacting. Talk about cool! 

Amazing crew!!! Manta rays were so awesome, 100/10 would recommend to anyone and everyone. Highlight of the vacation.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Michelle_D, May 2023
View of a huge manta ray and divers nearby surrounded by school of fish.
Photo from Canva

7. Observe wild sharks from inside an underwater shark cage

5.0 ⭐1,761 Reviews

For an experience, you’ll never forget, head out of Haleiwa boat harbor on the North shore of Oahu and get taken to a shark diving area. While there, an expert crew will help you into a shark diving cage and lower you into the water.

The most common shark sightings are Galapagos, Hammerhead, and Sandbar sharks. Of course, if you’re more comfortable, you can always stay on the boat!

This was an amazing experience everyone should at least try once. The boat captain and crew were very knowledgeable and made the whole experience enjoyable and memorable. I would definitely take this tour and experience again.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Emily_M, May 2023
View of a diver inside of a cage and a huge shark luring around.
Craving for something extreme? Go shark diving on this incredible tour.

Where to stay in Hawaii?

Each island in Hawaii has so much to offer. Depending on what you want to do, different islands may be a better fit for you.

The Big Island (Hawaii Island) is the largest and most diverse island. If you’re most interested in adventures, hiking, and volcanoes, the Big Island is for you!

Kauai Island is nicknamed the ‘Garden Isle.’ It’s a quiet place perfect for disconnecting and hiking, full of natural attractions and natural beauty. 

Oahu is home to Honolulu, the biggest city in the state. It has many great restaurants, museums, sandy beaches, shopping, and abundant nightlife.

Maui is the perfect middle ground between Oahu and Kauai, offering restaurants, shops, great beaches, and quieter, more tranquil areas. Plus, Maui is ideal for families with small children.

How many days should I stay in Hawaii?

While 5-7 days in Hawaii is reasonable, I recommend staying for at least 10 days due to its remote location. 

That gives you plenty of time to adjust to the time difference, and you don’t have to choose between a relaxing beach vacation and adventuring around your chosen island. 

View of a green sea turtle and coral reefs on the background.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Get to Hawaii

Read on for all you need to know on how to get to Hawaii.

Can you take a ferry to Hawaii?

Unfortunately, Hawaii is too isolated, and there is no ferry between the mainland USA and the islands.Β 

Can you take a train to Hawaii?

You are not able to take a train to Hawaii.

View of Twin Wailua Falls in Hawaii surtrounded by trees.
Twin Wailua Falls

Is there a bridge from the US to Hawaii?

Even though Hawaii is a part of the USA, there’s no bridge from the islands to the mainland.Β 

How can I go to Hawaii without flying?

The only way to get to Hawaii without flying is to take a cruise ship or travel by boat.Β 

View of the beautiful landscape in Oahu Hawaii.
Oahu Island

Is it cheaper to ride a plane or boat to Hawaii?

Consider that a cruise ship will cover your transportation, food, and accommodation. A cruise may be the most economical way to visit the Hawaiian islands.Β 

How long will the fastest boat take from the US to Hawaii?

The fastest boats will get from the mainland USA to Hawaii in a matter of days, while slower boats will take two weeks.Β 

A scenic view in Hawaii on a sunset - you might be asking this question, "Can you drive to Hawaii?", find out in this post.
Sunset in Hawaii

What is the best way to get to Hawaii?

The easiest way to get to Hawaii is to take a flight. Depending on your departure location, you can get to Hawaii in less than a day and get right to enjoying your tropical vacation.

View of rock formation in Queen's Bath in Kauai.
Queen’s Bath, Kauai

Can you drive to Hawaii? Final Thoughts

 While you aren’t able to drive to Hawaii, this beautiful state is well worth visiting.

Take a cruise ship or a boat, or fly over to these remote and gorgeous islands in the middle of the Pacific and enjoy the temperate climates, rugged mountains, and amazing marine life!

 Truly a magical place, Hawaii has such a rich culture and diverse offerings. It’s the sort of place you can keep coming back to again and again.