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Cheap flights to Honolulu, Hawaii (HI)

Honolulu overview

Honolulu Travel Guide

Welcome to Honolulu. Grab a lei and a Mai Tai and settle in to a relaxing vacation on the shores of O’ahu. Hawaii’s capital city is the center of the island’s tourism and financial growth, but there’s more to this city than luau’s and the hula.

Surfers dream of flights to Honolulu for a chance to catch the waves off Waikiki Beach. Considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Waikiki attracts about four million visitors each year. Along with swimming, surfing and sunbathing, weekend beachgoers can enjoy Sunset on the Beach, free movies shown on a 30-foot screen.

Geologists book Honolulu flights armed with cameras and notebooks to explore the extinct famous volcano, Diamond Head, and take a look at authentic Polynesian artifacts.  Families and friends find cheap flights to Hawaii for an island-getaway that rivals most U.S. beach destination spots.

Away from the beach, the city is home to the Bishop Museum, Hawaii’s largest museum, founded in 1889 in honor of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. The Honolulu Academy of Arts boasts more than 50,000 works, and the Lyon Arboretum is a 198-acre botanical garden, the only university botanical garden located in a tropical rain forest in the U.S.

Find a quiet spot on one of the golden beaches and watch the tranquil turquoise waters wave as visions of hula dancers parade in your head. Grab your jasmine-scented lei and start exploring. Honolulu is the largest city in Hawaii, but there’s more to this state’s capital than congested highways and crowded hotels. Visitors booking flights to Honolulu will find themselves immersed in rainforests, exploring canyons and mesmerized by breathtaking waterfalls.

The museums and historic and cultural sites are more reasons to book Honolulu airline tickets, and will immerse you in Hawaiian culture and lore.

A holiday to Honolulu will also take travelers back in time to one of America’s most pivotal moments. Just a short drive from Honolulu is Pearl Harbor, where on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacks on this island brought the United States into World War II.

The flight to Honolulu is quite long – at least 10 hours from New York – so grab yourself a couple good novels and recent tour guide of Hawaii and relax…you’re on your way to paradise.  

What’s the weather like in Honolulu?

The year-round temperature typically ranges from the high 60s to high 80s.There are two seasons; dry and rainy. The rainy season runs from November to March. The dry season is the rest of the year. June to November is the time for hurricanes.

When is the best time to fly to Honolulu?

Peak Season:

The peak season to visit Honolulu is not when the Hawaiian weather is the best, but when the rest of the country’s weather is the worst. Airfare prices are high and the resorts are fully booked from mid-December through March and sometimes into April. The last two weeks of December are particularly busy in O’ahu. The summer school vacation brings a lot of families to O’ahu, but you can get better travel deals on airline tickets and hotel rates than in winter.

Off Season:

The best rates are available in the spring and fall, mid-April to mid-June and September to mid-December. However, if you’re coming in the spring, book your reservations early as the last week in April is Japan’s Golden Week (four national holidays in one week), and the islands are very busy with Japanese visitors.

How long is the flight to Honolulu?

You can fly nonstop to Honolulu from most of the major airports on the West Coast, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Expect a flight time of about five hours (and don’t forget that you’re flying through several time zones as you make your calculations). If you’re flying from further east, you’ll probably have to make a change on the West Coast and continue on to Honolulu from there.

Which airlines fly to Honolulu?

It’s probably no surprise that Hawaiian Airlines runs many regular routes between Honolulu and most of the major West Coast airports. Delta, United and American Airlines also fly to Honolulu, as does Alaska Airlines, which has taken over Virgin America’s routes as well.

What should you pack for a flight to Honolulu?

A trip to Hawaii involves stepping into a casual culture where a trip to the beach is always a possibility. With that in mind, take more than one swimsuit so you always have one available while the other is drying out. Cover-ups, flip flops and other beach wear are also must-haves, and don’t forget the sunscreen, since you can fry to a crisp in minutes under the tropical sun. Even business clothing tends toward the casual in Hawaii, so don’t overpack, and save a little room in your suitcase for Hawaiian shirts and sarongs you may pick up on your trip.

Getting to and around the city of Honolulu

Honolulu’s bus system covers most of the city, making it the easiest way to get around. For a narrated tour during your travels, hop on the Waikiki Trolley, which stops at attractions in Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. If you’re planning on going outside of the city, you’ll want to rent a car. Car rentals are reasonably priced, but traffic can be very heavy inside the city.

What are some things to do in Honolulu?

Use Honolulu as your base to explore all of the island of Oahu. Within Honolulu, you should definitely make a quick visit to the famous Waikiki Beach, but don’t expect to see the broad expanse of white sand you may have seen in movies, as 1992’s Hurricane Iniki swept much of the beach out to sea. Treat yourself to brunch at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki to get a flavor of what Old Hawaii was like, or return in the evenings for the nightlife along the Waikiki strip. If you’re traveling with kids, calm waters make Ala Moana Beach Park are a great place to spend the afternoon, and don’t miss the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for amazing snorkeling among Hawaii’s underwater creatures.

A tour of the Iolani Palace also lets you explore Hawaiian history, taking you back to the days when the islands were a monarchy. For another piece of history, take a boat into the center of Pearl Harbor, where you can view the remains of the U.S.S. Arizona underwater.

Being in Hawaii is all about the outdoors, and not only the beach. While you can see the famous Diamond Head mountain from almost any vantage point in Honolulu, strap on your hiking shoes to climb it and look back in the other direction. Oahu’s North Shore is definitely worth a visit as well, especially if you’re a surfer, since it hosts some of the best waves on the island. Plan a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center to enjoy native art and performances not only from Hawaii but from Polynesian cultures and islands across the Pacific. On your way to the North Shore, stop in at the Dole Pineapple Plantation to enjoy some fresh pineapple ice cream. If you’re a fan of mazes, the largest one in the world is right here on the plantation.

Tips for your stay in Honolulu

  • The Arizona Memorial Museumstraddles the tomb of the 1,177 sailors and Marines trapped below deck when the battleship sank, marking the worst disaster in U.S. naval history. It’s a somber and moving experience. Admission is free, and tickets are handed out on a first-come first-served basis. On a busy day, tickets are gone by noon.
  • The newly opened Science Adventure Center of the Bishop Museumis not to be missed. It has 30 exhibits where you can experience adventures such as walking into a volcano, operating mini subs in a “deep sea” tank, and creating tsunamis. The museum’s other permanent exhibits include the Hawaiian and Polynesian Halls, Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame, Planetarium, and Maritime Center.
  • Downtown Honolulu’s historic Chinatownis a mix of Asian cultures. There are brilliant colors everywhere, a Buddhist temple, a Japanese shrine, herb and Chinese grocery shops, art galleries, restaurants, an open market where tangy spices rule the cuisine, ever-present scent of burning incense, acupuncturists, and herbalists. Every day the area is bustling with busy residents and meandering visitors from all over the world and a rich mix of sounds, from the traffic to the high-pitched talking of vendors to the retired men “talking story” over a game of mah-jong. When you’re here, make sure to check out the lei sellers on Maunakea Street, where Hawaii’s finest leis go for bargain prices.
  • Botanical gardens abound on Oahu. The Foster Botanical Garden, in downtown Honolulu, is the oldest of the Honolulu Botanical Gardensand has magnificent trees that were planted in the 1800s. The 27-acre Wahiawa Botanical Garden is a tropical rain forest. Senator Fong’s Plantation and Gardens is 725 acres of scenic valleys and plateaus of landscape that is relatively the same as what early Polynesians saw when they came to Hawaii. And this is just three of many gardens on Oahu.
  • The Byodo-In Templeis a replica of the Byodoin Temple in Uji, Japan. A three-ton brass temple bell brings good luck to those who can ring it. The highlight is the nine-foot Lotus Buddha, the largest wooden Buddha carved in over 900 years. The Temple grounds include traditional Japanese gardens, a two-acre koi pond, and wandering peacocks. (The Temple was used as a filming location in the first season of the ABC drama series Lost.)
  • The weather is usually perfect for a walk. The island has over 20 trailsthat take you through rain forests, mountain forests, dry valleys, and gulches. Or create your own walking tour in Honolulu or Waikiki—the Oahu Web site has great suggestions for attractions to visit in the city.
  • Golfing on Oahuis a unique experience. The rough might be rain forest or lava rock, the constant wind highlights all mistakes, and the ground is harder, which means that the ball runs off the tee more and doesn’t stop as quickly on the greens. Smokers beware. It’s against the law to smoke in public buildings and restaurants, including the airports, grocery stores, retail shops, movie theaters, banks, and government buildings and facilities. Most bed-and-breakfast establishments also prohibit smoking.
  • Don’t miss a trip to the Science Adventure Centerwhich has 30 unique exhibits which allow visitors to experience walking into a volcano, operating mini subs in a “deep sea” tank, and creating tsunamis. Other permanent exhibits at the museum include the Hawaiian and Polynesian Halls, Planetarium, Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame and Maritime Center.
  • Historic Chinatownoffers visitors the chance to experience a mix of different cultures from Asia. There’s a Buddhist temple, a Japanese shrine, herb and Chinese shops, art galleries, restaurants, an open market where tangy spices rule the cuisine, acupuncturists, and herbalists. While there, stop by and watch the wonderful lei sellers on Maunakea Street.
  • There are several botanical gardens in Oahu. In Honolulu’s city center is the oldest of the gardens, the Foster Botanical Garden, has trees that were planted in the 19th century while the Wahiawa Botanical Garden is a tropical rain forest. Senator Fong’s Plantation and Gardens is set on 25 acres of valleys and plateaus of landscape.
  • Visit the replica of the Byodoin Templein Uji, Japan. According to legend the brass temple bell brings good luck to those who can ring it. There’s a stunning nine-foot Lotus Buddha, the largest wooden Buddha carved in more than 900 years. Traditional Japanese gardens, a two-acre koi pond, and wandering peacocks make up the Temple’s grounds. Outdoor enthusiasts have more than 20 walking trails to choose from that take you through rain forests, mountain forests and dry valleys.
  • Playing golf on rain forest or lava rock? In Oahu this is possible and makes for quite a challenging game because the ground is harder and the ball runs off the tee more easily.