Tag Archives: how to get to Hawaii

We’ll Tell You How to Get to Hawaii

We'll tell you how to get to Hawaii and see places like this.

View of Waikiki Beach hotel skyline by Barry Inouye.

How to get to Hawaii? Inquiring minds and potential visitors to Hawaii want to know. The first way is by flying to Hawaii. Most people who want to travel to Hawaii do this. The second longer, but perhaps, more leisurely way to travel to Hawaii is to go there by cruise ship.

How to Get to Hawaii by Air

Fortunately, there are many airlines, domestic and international, that fly to Hawaii. This gives the flying public many options to get to Hawaii. Almost all of the major domestic US airlines fly to Hawaii. This includes: American, United and Delta. Southwest doesn’t offer Hawaii airfare yet; but many in the industry believe they will within the next five years. There are also three regional airlines, Hawaiian, Alaska and Allegiant, that offer daily trips to Hawaii out of their gateway cites on the US mainland.  In fact, Hawaiian offers the most daily flights to and from the Aloha State.

A growing number of international carriers are also flying to Hawaii. For many years, international carriers like Japan Airlines, QANTAS, All Nippon Airways, China Airlines, Air Canada, Philippines, Korean, Asiana, Air New Zealand and Fiji Airways have offered regularly scheduled service to Hawaii. Relatively recent international carriers serving Hawaii include: Jetstar, WestJet, China Eastern Airlines and Air China.

How to Get to Hawaii by Sea

Getting to Hawaii by sea offers some unique challenges for those who are interested in taking this option. Let’s assume you are coming from either the mainland US or Canada. You will need more a week, and often longer, and you will have to travel to one of the North American west coast cities that offer cruises to Hawaii. These include ports like Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego or Vancouver, Canada. Some cruise companies that sail to Hawaii from these ports include Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity and Norwegian cruise lines.

Cruises on foreign-flagged ship that embark from a US mainland port must continue to an international location before they can make the trip back to their originating port. This is due to US regulations requiring internationally flagged passenger ships to make an international stop before returning to the US. Such international stops include Polynesia, Oceania, Canada and Mexico. This restriction would not apply if you start your cruise outside the US, such as a port like Vancouver. So if you do plan to travel to Hawaii by sea, you’d better prepare to take a longer, but at least, more leisurely vacation.

Historic Lighthouses in Hawaii

Historic lighthouses in Hawaii

Kilauea Lighthouse on Kauai, one of the historic lighthouses in Hawaii.

There are a number of historic lighthouses in Hawaii that you might want to visit on your next trip. In addition to their historic value, many of them offer commanding views of the Pacific Ocean. They also offer great opportunities to view a wide range of marine wildlife.  And best of all, you can see and experience them for little or no cost.

Kilauea Lighthouse

The Kilauea Lighthouse was built in 1913 on the northern part of Kauai. The facility is unique in that it is the only lighthouse in Hawaii open to visitors. The Kilauea lighthouse was famous during World War II for offering radio beacon signals to aviators. This was especially important to pilots veering off course while trying to land.

It no longer serves as a lighthouse. But since 1985, it has become the focal point of the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition to scenic ocean vistas, you can see a wide range of marine wildlife. Here, there are seabirds, like the Laysan albatross and wedged-tailed shearwater. There are also marine mammals, such as the green sea turtle and humpback whale. You might have seen the Kilauea Lighthouse in Disney’s popular animated movie, Lilo and Stitch. As such, it might be one of the most popular historic lighthouses in Hawaii.

Kalaupapa Lighthouse

This lighthouse, the tallest in the State of Hawaii, was completed in 1909. Its construction was a response to the increasing amount of maritime traffic in the Kaiwi Channel. This channel separated the islands of Oahu and Molokai. Kalaupapa was an ideal location for the lighthouse because it was on a long peninsula extending two miles into the sea. But Kalaupapa was also the quarantine home for those in Hawaii with Hansen’s disease or leprosy. Initially, lawmakers were reluctant to build a strategically important navigational aid here. This was because they were concerned about station personnel being in close proximity with those with once incurable Hansen’s disease.

At 138 feet tall, the Kalaupapa Lighthouse is not only the tallest lighthouse in Hawaii. But it is also one of the tallest ones in the Pacific. Today, the lighthouse and the nearby settlement, still home to those once afflicted with the now curable Hansen disease, are part of the Kalaupapa National Historic District, which the National Park Service manages.

Makapu’u Lighthouse

The Coast Guard built the Makapu’u Lighthouse on the eastern tip of Oahu in 1909 for the same reason as Kalaupapa Lighthouse. It was a critical navigational aid that responded to the increasing amount of ships sailing though the treacherous Kaiwi Channel. The lighthouse was once the only one of its kind in the US with the hyperradiant Fresnel lens.

The  Coast Guard declared the land around the lighthouse surplus and then transferred it to the State of Hawaii in 1987. Since then, the road to the lighthouse is now one of the most popular hiking trails in the State park system. The trail offers spectacular views of the surrounding coastline, migrating humpback whales and the Hawaiian sunrise.

Where to Get Plate Lunches in Hawaii

Plate lunches in Hawaii

The Hawaiian food plate lunch.

One of the things that makes Hawaii unique is its food and one of Hawaii’s most unique foods is the plate lunch.  What’s a plate lunch?  Well for those who don’t know, a plate lunch in the Aloha State is usually a menu item served at places where fast foods are served, most typically at a drive-in restaurant.  The typical plate lunch consists of some sort of meat, fish, pork or chicken main item served with one or two scoops of white rice and either macaroni or potato salad.  A plate lunch doesn’t doesn’t have to be served only during lunch; it could also be served during breakfast and dinner too or, for that matter, anytime of the day.

There are some variations to this formula. A Hawaiian plate lunch, for example, could have as its main item kalua pig or laulau (pork steamed in taro leaves) or both, poi in lieu of rice as well as lomi salmon (salted salmon marinated in tomatoes, onions and chili sauce) instead of macaroni or potato salad.  A plate lunch with more than one main item is referred to as a “mixed plate.”  Today, the healthier versions of plate lunches come with brown rice instead of white rice and tossed salad instead of macaroni or potato salad.  Plate lunches served at some places even come with kim chee.  A very popular option among locals is adding gravy on the rice.  You can also get breakfast as a plate lunch, of course with rice.  And sometimes, you can substitute fried rice for white rice on your plate lunch breakfast.  But whatever you get on it, wherever you get it and whenever you get it, regardless of whether it’s a takeout order or not, it must be served on some kind of disposable plate, most typically styrofoam or paper, for it to be considered a plate lunch in Hawaii.

There is no definitive story as to the origin of the plate lunch.  Some believe it was originally derived from the Japanese bento, or boxed lunch, which were eaten by Japanese laborers who worked on the sugar or pineapple plantations in the late 1800s to early 1900s.  Another factor contributing to the evolution of the plate lunch was many of the plantation workers came from other Asian countries, such as China, Korea and the Philippines, where rice was the main staple.  As a result, many of the plantation workers typically ate rice, instead of bread, for lunch. Besides rice, their main entree item in their lunch was typically some sort of leftover or canned meat which formed the basis of what was to eventually become the plate lunch.  Later on, it is believed that western influences were instrumental in adding macaroni or potato salad to what can now be considered the quintessential plate lunch in Hawaii.  Eventually as the plantation days ended, mom and pop establishments began to sell plate lunches to working people as a convenient alternative to bringing a home lunch.

Today, you can get plate lunches almost anywhere in Hawaii. Besides getting them at local drive-ins, you can also get them at lunch wagons as well as at many places that serve prepared foods, including at local delicatessens, restaurants and stores. Some of the best known plate lunch places in Hawaii are Rainbow Drive-In, L&L Drive-Inn and Zippy’s Restaurants.

Eating Pancakes in Hawaii

Pancakes in Hawaii.

Eating pancakes in Hawaii at Ken’s House of Pancakes.

Traveling to Hawaii doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the pleasures of home. And if you like pancakes, Hawaii offers some of the country’s finest, of course with a Hawaiian slant to them. Here are some of the places where you can enjoy eating pancakes in Hawaii.

Ken’s House of Pancakes

You can find Ken’s House of Pancakes in the town of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.  As its name suggest, Ken’s specializes in pancakes. So when you order breakfast, it comes complete with pancakes. What’s also nice about Ken’s is that the serving are very generous in addition to the food tasting great.  This is what makes Ken’s a local favorite on the Big Island.

Tucker and Bevvy

Tucker and Bevvy specializes in Australian and Hawaiian themed breakfasts and picnic foods. You can find in the Kapahulu area of Honolulu. It offers a wide variety of breakfast dishes, including its highly popular ricotta cheese pancake.

Bills Sydney

Bills Sydney is a restaurant chain that originally started in Sydney, Australia. Today, it has restaurants in a number of cities throughout the world. You can find Bills Sydney in Waikiki on Beachwalk Avenue. It features great ricotta cheese pancakes on its menu.

Moena Cafe

Moeana Cafe, a breakfast and lunch restaurant, is in the Hawaii Kai area of Honolulu. Its breakfast menu includes a wide range of pancakes, including cinnamon roll and strawberry and milk. It’s famous for its banana Chantilly pancake.

Mac 24/7

Mac 24/7, as noted in its name, is open 24 hours daily and is in the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel in Waikiki. Its breakfast menu offers huge, crazy pancakes. It was once prominently featured on the television series, Man vs. Food.

Liliha Bakery

Liliha Bakery is a long-time local favorite bakery and diner in the Liliha area of Honolulu. You can’t be in business as long as Liliha Bakery has been if you’re not doing something right. And their pancakes are definitely one of the reasons why.

Maui Onions

Maui Onions

Sweet Maui onion by Barry Inouye.

Maui is famous for many of its unique agricultural products, including its world famous Maui or Kula onion.  Maui’s sweet onion is known to be on par with other world renowned varieties such as Georgia’s Vidalia or Washington State’s Walla Walla onion.  A sweet onion is an onion that is not pungent, has higher sugar and water content and is lower in sulfur than most onions.  Like Vidalias, Maui onions are a Yellow Granex type hybrid and originated from varieties developed in Texas.

Maui onions have a stout globular shape with a pale golden peel and a crisp, juicy white flesh and are grown in the Kula region on the eastern slopes of Haleakala, Maui’s legendary dormant volcano.  It’s been said that this region of Maui’s rich volcanic soil, perfect amounts of rainfall and sunshine play key factors in making Maui onions so special.  Maui onions are not grown in huge quantities with no more than 400 acres of prime agricultural land are set aside for the crops each year.  This makes the relatively limited supply of Maui onions even more special for those who can get them during the months of February through November.   You can readily identify such onions grown in this region as they are trademarked as “Kula Grown.”

The mainland US was first introduced to Maui onions when tourists brought them back after visiting Maui.  Today, Maui onions are widely available in most grocery stores throughout Hawaii as well as in a number of specialty stores and supermarkets on the mainland West Coast.  They can also be ordered from a number of online retailers.

Due to their sweetness, Maui onions are a favorite accompaniment served with Hawaiian food, typically eaten raw with some Hawaiian salt. They are also incorporated in many varieties of poke, a marinade of raw fish chunks, local seaweed and savory spices.

To celebrate Hawaii’s love of the Maui onion, the community comes together each year at the Maui Onion Festival held in late April to early May.  The event has been a signature event at the Whalers Village in the Ka’anapali Resort since 1990 and features recipe contests, food booths, games, prizes and dinner events.


Airlines in Hawaii

Island Air, one of a number airlines in Hawaii.

View of Hawaii inter island carrier, Island Air, aircraft by Barry Inouye.

Most everyone is aware of the airlines that fly to Hawaii from the mainland US.  All of the traditional larger carriers like American, United and Delta all fly to Hawaii from their major gateway cities.  Plus, regional carriers like Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines, in particular, have a major presence in the islands.  Right now, Allegiant is the only discount carrier flying to Hawaii from the west coast.  There have been persistent and longstanding rumors that the granddaddy of all discount carriers, Southwest Airlines, is considering entering the market in 2015.  The general public is well aware of carriers such as these.  But who are the airlines in Hawaii that are actually locally based?

It’s believed that most people in America aren’t aware of such smaller carriers, such as Island Air and Mokulele Air, which service the inter-island market.  While Hawaiian Airline continues to dominate the inter island travel market with its all jet fleet, Island Air and Mokulele can often offer a compelling alternative.

Island Air is an interesting story.  While Island Air may be relatively small, it is actually owned by one of the richest men in America, Larry Ellison, who founded software giant, Oracle.  Ellison recently purchased Island Air as part of his recent acquisition of all of the upscale hotel properties and most of the real estate on the island of Lanai, presumably as a means to ensure that tourists will visit and stay at his resorts on the island.  While Island Air’s is comprised of an all turboprop fleet, the carrier had recently upgraded it with more modern and larger aircraft.

Mokulele Air also serves the inter island market.  It has smaller turboprop planes that can hold up to nine passengers. Flying in small planes like these has some advantages; everyone has their own seat and has great views, particularly because Mokulele’s aircraft flies at relatively low altitudes.  And at some of the smaller neighbor island airports, there are no TSA security gates.  So you can take your time to get to the airport.