(Tripsavvy) – While Maui is served by three separate airports, each of them offer completely different experiences in their respective areas around the island. Many of the flights to Maui originate from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Oahu, the biggest and busiest airport in the state. International flights to Maui will have to stop first either on Oahu or Big Island before hopping over to Maui on a short inter-island flight between 30 and 45 minutes. Kahului Airport (OGG), Maui’s main airport, is the only one on the island that can accommodate direct flights from the mainland.
Besides Kahului Airport in northern Maui, there are two smaller commuter airports located on Maui, Kapalua Airport (JHM) on the west side and Hana Airport (HNM) on the east side. Keep in mind that these two airports are extremely small, so don’t expect many dining or shopping options besides vending machines. Also, those with mobility issues should be aware that planes arrive on the tarmac and passengers disembark via stairs at both Kapalua Airport and Hana Airport. The plus side to these smaller airports is that travelers avoid some of the negative parts of larger airports, such as long lines and large crowds.
It’s about a 45-minute drive (without traffic) from Kahului Airport to some of the more popular tourist areas on the island such as Kaanapali and Lahaina. For this reason, many travelers choose to fly into the smaller Kapalua airport in West Maui to cut down on commute time. If you’re staying in Kahului or Kihei, OGG will be the closest airport.
Location: Kahului in North Maui
Best If: You’re arriving from overseas.
Avoid If: You’re staying in Kaanapali or Hana and don’t mind flying on a smaller plane.
Distance to the center of Lahaina: 24 miles or about 40 minutes without traffic. A taxi from the airport to the center of Lahaina would cost upwards of $90, but a shuttle will only cost about $30 per person.
Kahului is the second busiest airport in the state, providing flights both overseas from the mainland U.S. and inter-island. It is also the main airport for Maui’s tour operators for aviation tours and helicopter tours. There are multiple options for dining and shopping inside the airport, as well as public parking, internet services, ATMs, taxis, and eight different car rental companies on the property. The airport is located off of Hana Highway on Airport Road.
One of the biggest questions that visitors have about the airport in Kahului is why the airport code is “OGG.” It is actually named after a famous airline pilot called Jim Hogg, who worked as the Chief Pilot for Hawaiian Airlines in the 1940s. By the time the airport opened, Hogg had flown so many test flights into Maui that the state decided to name the facility after him.
Location: Northern Hana on the east side of Maui
Best If: You’re staying in Hana or want to explore Haleakala National Park.
Avoid If: You don’t plan on renting a car.
Distance to the center of Lahaina: 70 miles or 2.5 hours driving.
Hana Airport is located about three miles northwest of the town of Hana off of Hana Highway on Alalele Place. Like Kapalua, it only serves commuter, unscheduled air taxi, and general aviation activities (such as tours) through a single runway. The only commercial airlines that fly into Hana Airport are Makani Kai Air and Mokulele Airlines.
Hana is a beautiful place, and the focal point of the popular tourist road trip known as the Road to Hana, but it is also quite isolated. Because of this, don’t fly into Hana Airport unless you plan to stay in Hana town or the surrounding area. You’ll find public parking, restrooms, and vending machines available, but there are no taxi services, public transportation, or car rental companies. Pre-arranged shuttles can be booked through select companies and a few tour operators.
Location: Northern Lahaina on the west side of Maui
Best If: You’re staying in Lahaina or Kaanapali.
Avoid If: You are flying from overseas.
Distance to the center of Lahaina: Six miles or about 15 minutes driving. A taxi would cost between $30 and $40.
Kapalua Airport was a private facility until 1993 when it was acquired by the state. The one-runway airport supports commercial propeller air carriers and commuter or air taxi aircraft exclusively. The general public can only fly into JHM via small passenger planes through locally operated Mokulele Airlines, Ohana (run by Hawaiian Airlines) or Makani Kai Air. There are no dining or shopping facilities, but there are public restrooms, ATMs, parking, and vending machines available for drinks, snacks, and newspapers.
The airport is located on Akalele Street off of Honoapiilani Highway. There are no car rental facilities at Kapalua Airport, but the major car rental companies on the island offer services at the airport from nearby facilities, so talk to your rental company before you book a car to make sure they can provide transportation. For ground transportation, there are more tour companies that pick up at Kapalua than Hana, as well as shuttle services and taxis.