The welcome sign at Kalaupapa Airport reflects the laid-back lifestyle of Molokai’s residents. // © 2014 HTA/Dana Edmunds
Feature image (above): Hana Airport in east Maui is a 20-minute flight from the island’s larger terminal in Kahului. // © 2014 HTA/Tor Johnson
Navigating large airport terminals can be stressful, but that’s not the case for travelers at the small airports in Hawaii. Unpretentious and charming, the state’s small airports don’t handle direct flights from the U.S. mainland. Instead, they specialize in the needs of interisland travelers while reflecting their laid-back surroundings.
Passengers get off planes using stairs to the tarmac, and workers transfer luggage on pushcarts. When it’s time to get off the beaten track in Hawaii, you might just find yourself passing through one of these five small airports, which serve as portals to less-traveled areas of the state.
Hana Airport, Maui (HNM)
Does the 52-mile road to Hana seem too long or daunting to drive? Then board a 20-minute flight from Kahului Airport to this single runway on Maui’s east side. Three miles northwest of Hana town, Hana Airport provides vending machines and restrooms. Travaasa Hana hotel (formerly known as Hotel Hana Maui) provides its guests with free airport transfers.
Kalaupapa Airport, Molokai (LUP)
This isolated airstrip runs along the island’s northern peninsula flanked by the sea on one side and 2,000-foot-high cliffs on the other. In order to fly here, visitors must have a permit to tour Kalaupapa National Historical Park. The tiny, open-air terminal serves travelers from other islands and from Molokai’s main airport, only a 10-minute flight away.
Kapalua Airport, Maui (JHM)
Kapalua and Kaanapali guests like this airport’s location, a 10-minute drive from either resort. While travelers can’t rent cars at the terminal, they can call for shuttle service to nearby car rental offices. Many area hotels offer their guests airport transfers.
Lanai Airport (LNY)
Hawaii’s smallest island destination has a relatively roomy airport terminal. Bordered by tall pine trees, the plantation-style building offers no restaurants or shops, so bring your own snacks to the waiting area. The island’s two Four Seasons resorts provide guests with ground transfers. The shuttle ride to Dollar Rent a Car in Lanai City costs $10.
Molokai Airport (MKK)
Molokai Airport sports a roof that’s the same color as the island’s distinctive red soil. It is located 6 miles from the main town of Kaunakakai. The ultra-informal terminal has restrooms and a small flower and lei shop. Molokai has no public transportation, but there’s an Alamo car rental desk just steps from this one-of-a-kind small Hawaii airport.