Hawaii epitomises everyone’s dream getaway. The collection of Pacific islands that make up the 50th state of the USA are renowned for their breathtaking natural beauty, picture-perfect beaches and easy-going hospitality – all the ingredients you’ll need for a totally tropical chill-out. Catch the waves in Waikiki or go diving with sea turtles off Oahu, hike the lava flows of Kilauea volcano or learn the art of traditional lei making in the markets of Honolulu. You might have to do a bit of work to find cheap flights to Hawaii, but perseverance will pay off – and as soon as you arrive it’s one long holiday.
Peak season on the islands runs from Thanksgiving in late November through to Easter, and the summer school holidays also bring high demand, so the best choice of budget flights to Hawaii can usually be found outside of these periods. Try late spring or late autumn, when the weather is at its best and the crowds are lighter. The last week in April is a major public holiday in Japan, bringing a surge in visitors from Hawaii’s closest Asian neighbours and putting pressure on accommodation. Whatever time of year you plan to take your trip, booking at least 3 or 4 months in advance really will pay dividends on this popular route, especially if you have limited flexibility on dates.
Although British Airways operates a non-stop service from London Heathrow to Honolulu, direct flights to Hawaii are few and far between. Most routes typically involve one or two stops, frequently on the American mainland. British Airways flies from London Heathrow via Los Angeles or San Francisco in just over 17 hours, with a choice of 3 island destinations: Kauai, Oahu or Maui. If that seems like a long time in the air, consider an overnight stop en route before continuing your journey – the flight time from the west coast to Hawaii is around 6 hours. US carriers American Airlines, United and Delta also fly via popular mainland hubs including New York, Houston and Chicago. Alternatively, approach from the opposite direction with routes such as Korean Air via Seoul, ANA via Tokyo or Air China via Beijing. If you’re not in a hurry, multi-stop routes can often offer good bargains, such as WestJet’s service via Toronto and Vancouver.
The majority of international flights to Hawaii land at Honolulu International Airport, the state capital on Oahu Island. The airport, one of the busiest in the US, provides a number of quick and easy ways to reach the centre of Honolulu 6 miles away – including several public bus routes – or to make the 10-mile journey to the popular beach resort of Waikiki. Kona International Airport, around 8 miles from Kailua-Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, is another busy gateway, with onward transport options including taxi, pre-booked courtesy cars or private car rentals. Kahului Airport on Maui has an onsite taxi rank plus shuttles to the main tourist destinations on the island, while Lihue Airport on Kauai is served by the local bus network. Many hotels lay on their own transport for guests, so check with your accommodation before you fly. Public transport on the islands is provided by buses and passenger ferries operate between some of the islands, making it easy to explore independently.
From the untamed beauty of the Na Pali coast to the sun-drenched beaches of Big Island, the dramatic landscapes of Volcanoes National Park to the hedonistic playground of Waikiki, Hawaii packs a surprising variety of experiences into its 8 compact islands. Discover its fascinating Polynesian heritage in the Bishop Museum, admire the Victorian splendour of the royal palace or find inspiration in the Honolulu Museum of Art. Be dazzled by the striking black-sand beach of Punaluu, a favourite basking spot for green turtles, or ride a high roller at the surfing hotspots of the North Shore. And no visit is complete without sampling Hawaii’s famous fusion cuisine at a traditional luau feast, to the soothing accompaniment of a slack-key guitar.
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