FEATURE A Hawaiian Airlines A330 flying past Leahi Diamond Head
A Hawaiian Airlines A330 flying past Leahi Diamond Head

Plan your trip to Hawai‘i

Everything you need to know to plan your Hawai‘i holiday, including which airlines fly there from Australia and New Zealand, when to go and tips on tipping!

Which airlines fly from Australia and New Zealand to Hawai‘i?

Hawaiian Airlines is the state’s hometown carrier, with five flights from Sydney to Honolulu weekly and seasonal flights from Auckland to Honolulu which operate from November until March. Passengers travelling from Australia and New Zealand to Hawai‘i in Economy and Extra Comfort are entitled to one piece of checked baggage up to 23kg, and can pay $150 for a second bag or excess baggage such as surfboards and golf clubs. Business class passengers are allowed two 32kg checked bags. The carry-on allowance is 11kg for all passengers. 

Qantas flies from Sydney to Honolulu daily, while low-cost carrier Jetstar flies from Sydney to Honolulu up to five times a week and from Melbourne twice a week.

Air New Zealand has three services from Auckland to Honolulu per week.

Flying between the Hawaiian Islands

For travel between the Hawaiian Islands fly with Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Mokulele Airlines. Flights range between 30-50 minutes in duration depending on the departure and arrival cities.

Ferry services from Maui to Lāna‘i

Hawai‘i’s only ferry, the Expeditions Maui-Lāna‘i Passenger Ferry, operates two round-trips each day linking the islands, taking 45-60 minutes.

Hawai‘i entry requirements for Australian and New Zealand travellers

Australian and New Zealand tourists are eligible to apply for admission to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. You need to apply online for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization, known as an ESTA. The fee to apply is US$21.

For more information visit: esta.cbp.dhs.gov

A road cuts through Makapuu on Oahu Image Vincent Lim Hawaii Tourism Authority
A road cuts through Makapuu on O‘ahu. Image: Vincent Lim Hawai'i Tourism Authority

Hiring a car, tours and other transport options in Hawai‘i

Rental cars are in high demand, so make sure you book a car far in advance, before making the rest of your travel arrangements. Australian and New Zealand travellers don’t need an international driver’s licence as major car hire companies accept a valid Australian or New Zealand licence. In some cases, drivers will need to be older than 25 years of age and have a
credit card.

There are also many tour companies that offer designated hotel pick-up and drop-off options. Shuttles, taxis, ride share services including Uber, Lyft and Holoholo, and public transport are also available
on most islands.

Time difference between Hawai‘i and Australia

Hawai‘i is at GMT-10 hours. Sydney, Australia is at GMT+10 hours. So, 12pm on Monday in Sydney is 3pm Sunday in the Hawaiian Islands. The state does not observe daylight savings, so add one hour during this period each summer.

When is the best time to go to Hawai‘i?

Any time is a good time to visit, as trade winds keep things comfortable year-round. The average temperature is between 24°-29.5° C. Summer, between May to October, is warmer and drier (average temperature is 24°-31° C) while winter, between November to April, is a bit cooler (20°-26° C). Whale watching season begins in late December and ends in early May. Peak whale watching months are between January and early April.

The Aloha Festival in Waikiki Image Tor Johnson Hawaii Tourism Authority
The Aloha Festival in Waikiki. Image: Tor Johnson Hawai'i Tourism Authority

Festivals and events in Hawai‘i

An impressive array of festivals and events are held across the Hawaiian Islands each year, and it’s worth considering timing your holiday to experience them. Expect to see parades, ethnic festivals, food festivals, street parties, concerts and family activities that honour every aspect of the state’s diverse culture.

Many events occur annually. Some, including the Hawai‘i International Film Festival in October and the Honolulu Marathon in December, draw participants from around the globe. Others, like the statewide King Kamehameha Celebration in June and Aloha Festivals in September, are primarily local occasions that have a strong appeal for visitors who want to get an authentic glimpse of Hawai‘i.

To see which events are coming up, visit: gohawaii.com

What to pack for a holiday in Hawai‘i

It’s warm in Hawai‘i, so pack summer clothes. You may want to bring a jacket or jumper for the evenings, and long pants if you plan on visiting higher elevations, such as the summits of Haleakalā on Maui or Maunakea on island of Hawai‘i. Suits and ties are very rarely worn, but bring some casual dress clothes or resort wear if you plan on experiencing Hawai‘i’s nightlife. You can buy an Aloha shirt and thongs (or slippers, as the locals call them) when you arrive.

Transient Accommodations Tax

All visitors to Hawai‘i are required to pay a Transient Accommodations Tax of 10.25 per cent for hotels, resorts, B&Bs and apartments. The counties of Maui, Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i and Honolulu also charge a three per cent County Transient Accommodations Tax. And the state of Hawai‘i has a General Excise Tax which varies by island, but is usually around four to five per cent of the price. Therefore, the combined taxes on accommodation equate to around 18 per cent. Some resorts and hotels also charge a daily ‘resort fee’ and overnight parking rates, which combined can add over US$100 to the nightly accommodation rate.


Hawai‘i prides itself on being a welcoming place for all travellers. Most airlines provide assistance to passengers with special needs through their skycap (porter) service and are able to transport wheelchairs, including folding, collapsible or non-folding manual wheelchairs, electric/battery-powered wheelchairs and electric-powered carts. Typically, 48 hours’ notice is required, and allow an extra hour for check-in for electric/battery-powered chairs. Wheelers Accessible Van Rentals of Hawai‘i provides affordable wheelchair accessible van rentals throughout the state. It partners with various medical equipment providers to offer scooter, wheelchair and medical equipment rentals. The Hawai‘i State Department of Health also has a comprehensive list of transportation options, equipment rentals, service animals and more. All-terrain wheelchairs are also available at select beaches.

For more information visit: gohawaii.com/trip-planning/accessibility

Currency in Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i’s currency is the US dollar. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and ATM machines are plentiful. Don’t worry if you forget something — Hawai‘i’s retail stores and shopping centres have everything you need.

Tipping in Hawai‘i

US standards on tipping apply. Here is a guide.

  • Restaurants: 15-20 per cent (check to see if gratuity is included for large parties)

  • Bar: US$2 per drink

  • Housekeeping: US$2 per bed, per night

  • Luggage porters: US$2 per bag

  • Room Service: 10-15 per cent of the total bill

  • Taxi: 15 per cent of fare

  • Tour Guides/Drivers: US$5+ for half-day tours/US$10+ for full-day tours

Area code

The area code for the state of Hawai‘i is (808).

International calls

You can use phone calling cards to make international calls. International calling cards are sold in convenience store


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