8 Largest Airports in Hawaii

Written by Micky Moran
Published: November 30, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Welcoming over 9.2 million visitors a year, Hawaii has a special place in the hearts of many travelers. With its lush landscape and beach activities, the actual reason that people flock to the island is the local culture. Dubbed the “Aloha Spirit,” there is something magical about Hawaii’s kindness, respect, and cordiality. Despite being a major tourist destination, visitors feel welcomed into the atmosphere. The mutual expectation of this ambiance is why visitors and tourists enjoy their exploration. Within its borders, Hawaii is the home of 8 airports that offer both commercial and charter flights. Here is a ranking of the largest airports in Hawaii.

Ranking the Largest Airports in Hawaii by Size

1. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport / Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu

Approaching Honolulu International Airport. The plane banks slightly to align itself for the final descend.

The infamous Reef Runway of the international airport is 12,000 feet.

©Dr. Victor Wong/Shutterstock.com

At 4,520 acres, the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is the largest airport on the island of Hawaii. Also known as the Honolulu International Airport, it is in the city of the same name and is one of the busiest airports in the entire United States. It is named for a senator in Hawaii who served from 1963 to 2012 and was this country’s highest-ranking Asian American politician until his death.

Initially opened in 1927, it served as Hawaii’s first airport to offer complete services. Before its construction, the only places for aircraft to land were fields, seaplane docks, or minimal landing strips on the island. Now, it offers four main runways, including the first primary offshore runway in the world.

Flying with the Honolulu International Airport gives you access to North America, Asia, and Oceania destinations. It is the main airport for incoming flights from Hawaiian Airlines, offering shuttles and taxis for passengers as they head to their accommodations.

2. Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, Kailua-Kona

Prepare to take a walk at the Kona International Airport– Hawaii’s only airport with stairs instead of a jet bridge.

©Ken Lund / CC BY-SA 2.0

Located at Keāhole, you must reach the island’s western side to fly into the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport. They are primarily called Kona International Airport. While the airport covers 3,450 acres, the actual building is one of the most minor airports in the United States. This airport is used to communicate with the entire island, making it crucial to the safety and travel of locals.

Though it is one of the largest airports in Hawaii, it only opened in 1970 on July 1. At the time, it had one 6,500-foot runway. Though there was already an airstrip, the former space was converted into a recreational area. It took 13 months and 3 million pounds of dynamite to level the land.

At the Kona International Airport, you primarily choose from domestic flights. American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines fly in and out, though the main destinations of passengers are typically Los Angeles and San Francisco. The only way to travel from the airport is by taxi or shuttle.

3. Hilo International Airport, Hilo

Aerial View of Runway at Hilo International Airport, Big Island, Hawaii

The Hilo International Airport has such a massive land area because of its use as a military installation during the Second World War.

©Shawn Zhang/Shutterstock.com

Also known as General Lyman Field until 1989, the Hilo International Airport spans 1,391 acres. Situated on the east side of the island, the airport has a 9,800-foot primary runway. The 5,600-foot Crosswind Runway 3-21 is for general aviation.

Hilo International Airport opened a single landing strip in 1929, but the property has seen considerable expansion. When World War II started, engineers from the US Army used the facility for military operations and installations. It is one of the most minor major airports, but it still serves over a million passengers a year.

This airport welcomes Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. As passengers wait for their flights, the airport offers several dining and shopping options, but the hours of operation are based on the flights available. You must enter from the Kekuanaoa Avenue roadway to reach the passenger terminal complex. To leave the airport, there’s no public transportation system, so you’ll need to rent a car or get a taxi.

4. Maui Kahului Airport, Kahului 

A nice overlook of OGG airport on Maui, Hawaii

The main area that Maui Kahului Airport serves is Kahului City.


©Michael Overstreet/Shutterstock.com

The Maui Kahului Airport matches the same land area as the Hilo International Airport. Though it started serving passenger and freight operations by 1952, the airport was formerly used for wartime. The transition from a wartime base to a functioning public airport cost $150,000. Investments in a temporary control tower, completing hangers for private planes, and other projects cost the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission nearly $50,000 two years later.

The primary connections for passengers from the Maui Kahului Aiport are to Los Angeles (CA) or Honolulu (HI). While Hawaiian Airlines uses it as one of the main hubs for the airline, it also offers flights with American Airlines, Air Canada, Delta Airlines, and other major airlines.

5. Kaua’i Island Lihue Airport, Kauaʻi

Aerial view of the runway and plane hangars of Lihue airport on Kauai island, Hawaii, United States

On the day of the opening ceremony, all planned flights and outdoor activities had to be canceled due to rain, pushing the first scheduled flight until the next day.

©Alexandre.ROSA/Shutterstock.com

The next of the largest airports in Hawaii is the Kauai Island Lihue Airport. It covers an 884-acre land area, and it is the main airport on this part of the island. It opened for flights on September 1, 1949, but Hawaiian Aviation limited its operations because of ongoing construction. The official dedication didn’t happen for four more months, giving time for the $55,000 water system to be installed.

While it serves over 2 million passengers a year, it only offers domestic flights. Like many airports in Hawaii, the main destination out of this airport is California. The airlines that book the most flights are Alaskan Airlines, American Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines, though you need to book private transportation to get out of the airport.

6. Lanai Airport, Lanai City

Lanai Airport on the island of Lanai, Hawaii

As the first field of the Hawaiian Aeronautics Commission, federal funds were used to reconstruct the Lanai Airport with the Federal Airport Act of 1946.

©Russell deJetley/Shutterstock.com



The Lanai Airport began as nothing but a frequent landing strip for Hawaiian Airlines in 1930. With 8-passenger planes, the landing strip began allowing transportation in 1930. However, construction on the airport’s official building didn’t happen until the 1940s. Work finished on April 12, 1948, and the dedication happened on July 12, 1948.

The primary airline served by the Lanai Airport is Hawaiian Airlines. The airport serves between 90,000 and 150,000 passengers annually, probably because it only serves passengers within the island’s limits.

7. Ho’olehua Airport, Ho’olehua

The Ho’olehua Airport is also known as Moloka’i Airport.

©Forest and Kim Starr / CC BY 2.0) – License

Officially dedicated in 1957, the Hoolehua Airport marks the spot where Ernest Smith and Emory Bronte landed as they ended their first trans-Pacific flight. It was one of the main airports in Hawaii before the military started using the island for wartime engagements. It has two main runaways for various aviation activities but still accepts some military flights.

Serving passengers with Hawaiian Airlines, the main flights within the airport are interisland passengers, which means that they don’t leave Hawaii. It is available for public flights, but the biggest plane ever landed only held 127 passengers, and the FAA https://www.faa.gov/ considers it a non-hub primary commercial service facility.

8. Kapalua Airport, Lahaina

The Kapalua Airport is 2 miles away from Kaanapali.

©neepster / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

Kapalua Airport is at the bottom among the largest airports in Hawaii. Only spanning 57 acres, it was previously a private airport during its original construction in 1987. However, the State of Hawaii acquired it in 1993. The airport currently has one runway; the only way to reach it is by taking the exit off the Honoapiilani Highway. It coordinates flights with other airports, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Hilo International Airport, and Kona International Airport.

Largest Airports in Hawaii

SizeAirport
4,520 acresDaniel K. Inouye International Airport (Honolulu)
3,450 acresKona International Airport (Keāhole)
1,391 acresHilo International Airport
1,391 acresMaui Kahului Airport
884 acresKauai Island Lihue Airport
505 acresLanai Airport
288 acresHoolehua Airport
57 acresKapalua Airport

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/mihtiander


Share on:
About the Author

Micky Moran is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering mammals, travel, marine life, and geography. He has been writing and researching animals and nature for over 5 years. A resident of Arizona, he enjoys spending time with family, going on adventures across the United States with his wife and kids by his side.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.