Getting to Kauai:
A few simple tips that will make your next Kauai travel experience a breeze
Getting to Kauai can be made simple with a few local tips. The Hawaiian Islands are located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean approximately 2500 miles from any mainland. Kauai sits at the northern end of the island chain. Due to Kauai’s geographic isolation, air travel from anywhere on the mainland takes at least five hours. The only major airport for civilian travel is the Lihue Airport [LIH]. It is centrally located on the east side of Kauai. Lihue is the main “city” on Kauai (population 6,400), and its name is commonly mispronounced. Lihue when pronounced correctly sounds like ‘lee-who-aye’.
When booking air travel its best to find a direct hub from the west coast to Kauai. Each year more airlines add direct Kauai flights because of its popularity within Hawaiian island travel. Locals have the best success flying with Hawaiian or Alaskan airlines. Hawaiian Airlines is currently flying direct to Kauai from Oakland, and San Francisco California with occasional summer flights from Los Angeles.
Alaskan Air offers direct flights to Kauai from Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and San Diego, California, and from Seattle, Washington. If you’re coming from Canada, West Jet offers direct flights from Vancouver. If you’re coming from the east coast of the USA or Canada, it may take you more than one stop. If you have to stop in Honolulu, it’s only a short (30 minute) puddle jump to Lihue. Hawaii is one of the few states that does not observe daylight savings, so make sure to account for this when getting to Kauai. If you have other questions about what to expect we have most likely answered them in our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Other Things to Think About When Getting to Kauai
When visiting Kauai, renting a car is strongly recommended. Having the freedom to explore numerous attractions (link) is very important. The majority of Kauai’s remote interior is not navigable by car, but there are endless experiences that will be missed without private transportation. Kauai roads, for the most part, cover the exterior areas of 7/8 of the island.
The majestic NaPali coast is only accessible by air, water, or foot. Public transportation is available and reliable, although it will not allow you to access a majority of the island’s most desirable destinations. Many of the major rental car companies can be found near the airport. Kauai also offers privately-owned rental companies with used local cars at a discounted rate. This route may better meet your budget and prove a reliable source of less expensive transportation. Make sure to do a once-over of the car you rent to make sure it meets your standards. Usually you get what you pay for when shopping for private discount rental car companies or anything on Kauai for that matter.
After reserving airline travel, accommodations, and a rental car, the next most important thing to book is Kauai Activities before you arrive. The best experiences tend to book up at least one week out. Usually travelers arrive on the weekend and leave on the weekend. On Monday morning of every week, concierges from hundreds of island accommodations are frantically booking whatever they can to get their guest in the air, on the water, or into the interior. Kauai is busiest during school holidays and the summer months. Make sure you can receive the best experiences. Book early!
A final tip on getting to Kauai is don’t pack too much stuff! If you’re not sure, check out our ActivityKauai.com pack list. If you have any further questions about the planning process give us a call at 1-800-380-KAUAI(5243).