Although there are some direct flights to Kona or Hilo from the mainland US and Canada, most flights are routed through Honolulu or Kahalui, Maui. From either of those destinations it’s a short inter-island plane ride to either Kona or Hilo. Since Kona and the Kohala Coast are fast becoming an important visitor destination, direct flights from the mainland US and Canada to Kona are being added monthly. Click on one of our discount travel partners below or check with your airline or trip planner for flight information.

Travel Tips:

  1. Pack sparingly. If you bring more clothes than will fit in carry-on luggage you have overpacked.

  1. If you are traveling here from a colder climate, leave your winter coats in your car or in an airport locker.

  1. Bring a hat that can stay on your head if it is windy, and pack a lightweight windbreaker or sweater to wear if you intend to watch sunrise from the top of Mauna Kea or visit Volcanoes National Park; otherwise it is shorts and t-shirt weather year-around.

  1. Pack an empty collapsible gym bag so you can bring back all the clothes, macadamia nut chocolates, and ‘other stuffs’ you will buy while you are here.

  1. Kona Airport is one of the few open-air airports in the world. It will be between 75 and 85 degrees when you land. If you are wearing typical mainland garb you will not be a happy (or cool) camper. Change into shorts and sandals before you land.

  1. Bring a carry-on size bottle (3.4 oz. or less) of factor 50 sunscreen with you and apply it before you exit the plane. If you are wearing sandals, be sure to slather the tops of your feet and ears with it. Buy another bottle of sunscreen while you are here.

  1. Pack an empty water bottle in your carry-on luggage and fill it when you get to your destination airport. You will appreciate the hydration while you are waiting for your luggage or securing your rental car.

  1. Some airlines no longer provide free amenities such as meals or pillows and blankets. Consider bringing sandwiches and enough clothing to keep you warm during the flight (Note: Hawaiian Airlines still provides full service on all their flights).

  1. Depending on your starting point a flight to Hawaii can last 5 hours or longer. Click here for answers to frequently asked questions regarding flights to and from Hawaii. And click here for some tips about what to bring aboard the plane to make your flight a bit more comfortable.

  1. Hawaii has customs and traditions that are different from those on the mainland. Consider learning some frequently used Hawaiian words and phrases and reading up on Hawaiian etiquette and customs before your trip.

  1. While you are in Hawaii you are bound to encounter someone speaking pidgin (a local slang). Here are some pidgin words and phrases you are likely to hear.

  1. Try to follow the hiker’s creed, “Leave only footprints, take only memories.” This applies especially to sand and lava (click here for more information).

  1. Lastly, here are some tips that will help to make your visit to The Big Island safer and more comfortable.

Getting to the Big Island.

More Information

Pre-Travel Checklist

If you are like us, things can get pretty hectic just before leaving on vacation. To help you, we have put together a Pre-Travel Checklist. Print it and check off things as you prepare for your trip.

Traveling with Children?

Click here for tips from experienced Hawaii vacationers.

Thinking of bringing a pet?

Don’t. Leave your pets at home. Hawaii is rabies free and the state wants to keep it that way. All dogs, cats, and ‘other carnivores’ must be quarantined for a minimum of 5 days upon arrival, no exceptions. Click here to read the rules.

Packing Checklist

Visit our online store to shop for hard-to-find vacation items.

  1. Lei greetingPolarized sunglasses

  2. Click here to purchase vintage Hawaiian postersSunblock (Factor 50)

  3. Click here to purchase vintage Hawaiian postersLip balm with SPF 30

  4. shapeimage_7_link_0Shorts (3 pair)

  5. T-shirts

  6. BulletBlouses or Polo-type shirts

  7. BulletResort wear (see below)

  8. BulletSneakers and socks

  9. BulletSandals or flip-flops

  10. Bullet2 Swimsuits and coverup

  11. BulletHat(s)

  12. BulletTravel umbrella

  13. BulletWaterproof digital camera

  14. BulletCompact Binoculars

  15. BulletBeach bag

  16. BulletLightweight day-pack

  17. BulletQuart-size zip-top bag

  18. BulletPlug-in night lights  

For the utmost comfort, wear only cotton fabrics. Pack a lightweight jacket or sweater for the evenings and a lightweight waterproof jacket for exploring tropical rainforests. Wear layers of clothes for the different altitudes of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Don’t worry if you forget something. Our retail stores and malls will have what you need.

Resort Wear

If you plan to go out to a fancy restaurant or luau while you are here, consider packing one set of “resort wear”.

  1. For men: dress-shorts or khaki trousers and a collared shirt.

  1. For women: casual skirt, sun dress, capri pants, dressier shorts, etc.

Buy While You Are Here

  1. Additional sunscreen

  2. Sand mats

  3. Snorkel gear (or rent it)

  4. Beach towels

  5. Beach umbrella

  6. Rubber flip flops

  7. T-shirts

Returning Home

On your departure day, rather than lugging them home with you, consider gifting your beach towels, sunscreen, sand mats, and beach umbrella to a newly arriving vacationer at your hotel, B&B or condo.

Your checked luggage and carry-ons must pass through agricultural inspection before you can check in or board your flight.  The box of pineapples you plan to buy at the airport will be allowed onboard, however apples, bananas, and many other fruits and plants will not pass muster and must be consumed or tossed before the inspection.

Travel Information


The climate on The Big Island is either wet or dry. if you divide the Big Island vertically down its center the right side will be somewhat rainy and the left side will be mostly dry. If you are looking for lush tropical Hawaii, then the Hilo side of the Island is for you. If you want plentiful sunshine, warm tradewinds and white sand beaches then the Kona side should be your home base.

Travel Documents

Hawaii is part of the United States of America. A passport is needed only if you are visiting from outside the United States or traveling to another country after visiting Hawaii.


When planning your trip to the Big Island, specify one of the two airports below as your final destination.

  1. Kona International Airport (KOA) on the West coast of the Big Island (The Kona Coast and Kohala Coast resorts are nearby).

  1. Hilo International Airport (ITO) on the Big Island’s East coast.

Upon arrival, surprise a

loved one with a lei greeting.

Click here to order.

Ground Transportation

Unless you’re a V.I.P. you will have to make your own arrangements to get from the airport to your hotel or condo. Shuttle companies service both major airports and fee based transportation can be arranged ahead of your arrival.

  1. Kona shuttle services

  2. Hilo shuttle services

Although island-wide  public transportation is available elsewhere on the island, there is currently no public bus transportation to or from either airport. You may want to rent a vehicle during your stay. Click below for a list of the rental agencies at both airports, or let one of our travel partners at the bottom of this page help you find the best value.

  1. Kona car rental agencies

  2. Hilo car rental agencies

Inter-island airlines

If you plan to visit another island while you are in Hawaii consider a packaged tour such as these to Oahu, or book with one of these commuter airlines. Prices are competitive and flights are frequent.

  1. go! Airlines (regional jet, ceasing HI operations on 4/1/2014)

  2. Hawaiian Airlines (jet)

  3. Island Air (twin-engine prop)

  4. Mokulele (single-engine prop)

  5. Pacific Wings (single-engine prop)

Save Money

To get the best price, book your travel through one of our travel partners.

Click here to purchase vintage Hawaiian posters