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First opened in 1927 as the John Rodgers Airport, it was renamed the Honolulu Airport after World War II, with 'International' added to the airport's name in 1951. It is by far the largest airport on the Hawaiian Islands, and is certain to be your destination when taking a direct flight to Honolulu. Although there are ongoing renovations and upgrades amongst the three terminals, the brightly painted Wiki Wiki Shuttle Buses and the air-conditioned walkways are excellent ways to get from one terminal to another. The shuttle buses are free for passengers, and operate from 6am-10pm.
Whether you're coming from far away or simply seeking the most options, the 'International' part is definitely accurate. Flights cover most major cities along the Pacific Rim, including Manila, Sydney, Tokyo, Anchorage, and Los Angeles. Other major world cities can be reached, with direct flights to Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Osaka, and Auckland. Tokyo and Seoul are two of the most popular international routes, while Los Angeles and other Hawaiian airports are the most popular domestic routes. Japanese carriers fly twice as many planes to Honolulu as American carriers, so look carefully for a great deal!
Hawaii also a total of nine other airports, including Kahului Airport (OGG) on Oahu, Kona International Airport (KOA) onHawai'i island, Lihue Airport (LIH) on Kaua'i island, and Hilo International Airport (ITO) on the eastern side of Hawai'iisland. If you're heading to Kauai, Lihue Airport is your primary gateway, and all airports have at least a few flights back to the mainland US. Hawaii International Airport is by far the biggest airline in the state and offers the most potential destinations - unless you have a specific plan otherwise, expect to arrive or depart from here.
Remember that Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so expect your flight to take some time. A flight from Auckland or Chicago to Honolulu takes about 8 1/2-9 hours, while flights from Manila, Melbourne, or New York City can take about 10 1/2 hours. Island-hopping flights from one Hawaiian island to another are between 30-50 minutes long, while flights from the USA's west coast are about 5 1/2-6 hours long. If coming from Seoul or Shanghai, expect to be in the air about 9-10 hours.
Without needing to be a member of any special clubs, passengers have access to the airport's many shops and restaurants. The Central Plaza has a business center for internet access and traveling accessories along with some areas to stretch out. Also in the airport are Chinese, Hawaiian and Japanese Gardens - designed by Richard Tongg in 1962, these Cultural Gardens are great spaces to meander and relax. Keep your eyes out for planes hanging from the ceiling in the Atrium towards the Administration Tower, including a large floor map of Oahu's airfields during World War II.
A few food and drink highlights include the Kona Brewing Company, which features five of the local brewery's beers and a wide variety of entrees. Plenty of American franchises are around, including Burger King, Starbucks, California Pizza Kitchen, and Chow Mein Express. While on the Central Concourse (Gates 14-23), head to Dewar's Clubhouse for golf highlights, plenty of food, and specialty cocktails, or Lahaina Chicken & Pizza or a buffet-style meal.
Over a dozen airlines feature private lounges, many of which are located in the Garden Court Area or on the third level. Look for signs to point you in the right direction. Other club, such as the Red Carpet Club for Air Canada, AIr Japan, and United, are above Gate 9.
Hawaiian Airlines offers more cheap round trip flights to Honolulu than anyone else. United and Japan Airlines come in second and third, but there are dozens of other airlines that fly to Honolulu. Some of the better-known airlines that make flights to Honolulu International Airport are Air Canada, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, China Airlines, and Korean Air. Some lesser-known airlines also offer some discounted routes, including Mokulele Airlines, Asia Pacific Airlines, and Island Air.
Honolulu's excellent bus system (called 'TheBus') features multiple routes that connect the airport to the city. Route 19 connects to Hickam Air Force Base, while route 20 heads to Pearlridge Center. Both of these routes also go to downtown Hawaii, the Ala Moana Center, and Waikiki. Other routes (such as 9, 40, 40A, 42, and 62), travel along the Nimitz Highway, and stop within walking distance of the airport. Request to be notified when you approach the airport, or simply keep your eyes on the landscape. A 4-day unlimited pass costs $35, while a single ride costs $2.50.
The airport also operates the SpeediShuttle, which transports passengers from the airport to Waikiki / Honolulu Harbor. This on-demand service can take you to your Waikiki Resort, Ko'olina Resort, and elsewhere on the island. Shuttle stops are in several places, but look for the staff wearing red aloha shirts to assist you. Several hotels also offer courtesy vehicles to get you checked-in and relaxing in your hotel as quickly as possible, while car rentals are available at the airport from Advantage, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National. Plenty of taxis are around, naturally.
The airport is six miles from downtown Honolulu and about ten miles from the Waikiki area. If driving, the H-1 Freeway offers exits from both directions that lead you into the airport (note one local quirk: using your horn is considered very rude, except in an emergency). Airport parking is available in multiple parking lots - head to lot A for international parking, lot B for economy parking, and lot D for Overseas Parking. A fourth lot, lot M, is next to the InterIsland Terminal. Note each lot has a 30-day parking limit.
Hawaii is a beautiful place to visit year-round, and has average high temperatures of 80-88 degrees F. (26-31 C.). The high season is traditionally from June to September and December to January, where Hawaii becomes the place to celebrate the holidays away from winter weather. The shoulder seasons are in April, May, September, and October - you may find some small discounts on flights and hotels. The low season is from November to December and January to March - essentially, before and after the high Christmas season. These low seasons are when you'll find the best deals and fewest crowds.
Waikiki Beach is the best-known beach, and was once the home for Hawaiian royalty. Today, tourists visit for the beautiful white sand, while plenty of hotels offer rooms within walking distance of it. The area also has the Kapiʻolani Park (which holds the Waikiki Aquarium), the Fort de Russy Military Reservation, and is fairly close to Diamond Head, an extinct volcanic cone great for hiking. For folks that prefer the quieter side of Waikiki, head to Kuhio Beach for an area sheltered by a wall that breaks the water.
Honolulu has plenty of other beaches and attractions, of course. The Makapuu Beach Park features large waves and plety of opportunities to body surf, while Sandy Beach is an excellent place to surf or fly a kite. The Halona Beach Cove, meanwhile, features few facilities and lifeguards. It's a beautiful natural beach, however, and swimming here is excellent when the waters are calm.
If you'd prefer some indoor attractions, head to the Bishop Museum for the world's largest collection of Hawaiian cultural artifacts and the largest science and history museum in the state. Alternatively, the Honolulu Museum of Art features large collections of Asian, Western, and Islamic art. The Contemporary Museum has two locations to enjoy its art - a main campus in Makiki and a wonderful gallery inside the First Hawaiian Center downtown.
For history buffs, the ʻIolani Palace remains the only royal palace in the US, and was made a museum in 1978 after serving as the capital building. A short drive will take you to the historic Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial Museum, which serves as a vivid reminder of the tragedies of war. While not as old, the four lines of the Waikiki Trolley are an excellent way to get around town in a different form of transportation.
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© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.