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Hawaii is a dream destination for travelers from around the world. And since it’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, travelers are often unsure whether or not they will need a passport, a visa or just a drivers license to visit.
Here’s everything you need to know about travel documents before you go to Hawaii.
Do I Need a Passport to fly to Hawaii?
If you’re a U.S. citizen, the answer is no, you don’t need a passport to travel to Hawaii. Since Hawaii is one of the 50 states within the United States of America, passports aren’t required for U.S. citizens to travel there. However, you will need to make sure you have the right type of drivers license.
Do you need a Real ID to go to Hawaii?
Beginning May 2023 you will be required to have a REAL ID form of identification to enter the state of Hawaii by plane. So if you have an older drivers license, it will need to be updated to the REAL ID Format.
What is a Real ID and how do you get one?
It’s very easy to tell if you have a Real ID drivers license. If your license has a gold star (or one of the other marking shown below) in the top right corner, then you are compliant and have a REAL ID license. If not, you need to go to your State’s Department of Motor Vehicles and apply for a new Real ID Compliant Drivers License.
The REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting “for official purposes” licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards. These “official purposes” include:
- Accessing certain federal facilities
- Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft
- Entering nuclear power plants
Do I need to Real ID to go to Hawaii via a cruise ship?
No. As stated above, a Real ID drivers license is required for flying on commercial aircraft, it is not required to travel by car of by ship to Hawaii or Alaska.
What Documents do you need to go to Hawaii?
Traveling to Hawaii as a U.S. Citizen
As a US citizen all you’ll need is a REAL ID driver’s license or another type of TSA approved photo identification. You can also use your passport as identification.
The only time you would need to bring your passport to Hawaii is if it’s part of a multi-destination trip. If you’re heading on to another destination like Fiji, Australia or Japan after Hawaii, then you’ll definitely want to have your passport with you. Or if your flight routes you through Canada, you will need to have a passport.
TSA Approved Identification
Adult passengers 18 and over must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel. The following forms of identification are approved by the TSA.
- Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S., make sure it is REAL ID compliant. If you are not sure if your ID complies with REAL ID, check with your state department of motor vehicles.
- U.S. passport
- U.S. passport card
- DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
- U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
- Permanent resident card
- Border crossing card
- State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
- Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
- HSPD-12 PIV card
- Foreign government-issued passport
- Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
- Transportation worker identification credential
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
- Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
Traveling to Hawaii as a non-U.S. Citizen
Non-U.S. citizens will require a passport, and all the other documentation needed to enter the United States of America at any other port. Here is a link to the government website indicated what you will need to enter the United States, including Hawaii.
You are required to have a valid passport with 6+ months before the expiration. Permanent residents and foreign nationals may also need a U.S. visa. You must apply for a visa before you start your trip.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers conduct arrival inspections using the same criteria for all foreign nationals visiting the U.S. They decide your admission to the United States, even if all your travel documents, including your visa, are in order.
What are the Largest Hawaiian Airports?
Now that you have the background on what documents you need, let’s talk about how to get to Hawaii. The most common way is by air, and there are six airports primary airports to choose from.
The Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is the largest airport in the State of Hawaii and is located in Honolulu, on the island of O’ahu. Each of the major Hawaiian Islands has an airport. Here’s a quick summary of the major Hawaiian Islands and their airports:
|Island||Nickname||Island Size||Major Airport|
|Hawaiʻi||The Big Island||4,028 sq miles||Hilo International Airport (ITO)|
Kona International Airport (KOA)
|Maui||The Valley Isle||727 sq miles||Kahului Airport (OGG)|
|Oʻahu||The Gathering Place||596 sq miles||Honolulu International Airport (HNL)|
|Kauaʻi||The Garden Isle||552 sq miles||Lihue Airport (LIH)|
|Molokaʻi||The Friendly Isle||260 sq miles||Molokai Airport (MKK)|
|Lānaʻi||The Pineapple Isle||140 sq miles||Lanai Airport (LNY)|
In case you were wondering, the Hawaii islands are about a six-hour flight from most destinations on the west coast of the United States and Canada. Flying from the east coast will take 10-11 hours for a direct flight, longer if you have to connect.
What Airlines Fly to Hawaii?
There are over 20 airlines that fly to Hawaii. Some of the airlines with the most flights to the Hawaiian Islands are:
- Hawaiian Airlines – Check out this article on how to save with Hawaiian Airlines Deals
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- All Nippon Airways
How do I get a Passport?
Additional Passport Information
Here are some other articles that address passport requirements of popular destinations for U.S. Citizens
- Passport Requirements for Puerto Rico
- Passport Requirements for Hawaii
- Passport Requirements for the Bahamas
- Passport Requirements for the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Passport Requirements for Canada
- Passport Requirements for Mexico
Frequently Asked Questions
No. You are able to visit Hawaii using an ESTA and will not require a visa, as long as your visit will be for less than 90 days total in the US. Your visit to Hawaii must be for tourism, business, medical or transit purposes to qualify for an ESTA, which you should apply for at least three days prior to traveling to Hawaii.
Yes. Hawaii is one of the 50 United States. Even thought it is, in the Pacific Ocean and a long way from the mainland, it is still consider domestic travel when flying from other domestic states.
Yes. If you are a U.S. citizen, you will not need a passport to fly to Hawaii.
It depends where you are flying from. If you are flying from the US mainland, you will not go through customs. If you are flying to Hawaii from Japan or another international location, then you will need to go through US customs.
Hawaii has been a part of the United States since August 21, 1959, when it became the 50th state.
Hawaii follows Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST), which is five hours behind Eastern Standard Time and two hours behind Pacific Standard Time.
Hawaii uses the U.S. Dollar
Anytime is a good time to visit Hawaii. The average temperature here is between 75˚–85˚ F (24˚-29˚ C). Summer, between April and November, is warmer and drier, while winter, between December and March, is a bit cooler.
Whale watching season begins in late December and ends in early May, with peak viewing occurring between January and early April.