How Long Does It Take To Drive To Hawaii?

With its world-famous beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture, Hawaii is on many people’s bucket lists for the ultimate island getaway. If you’re planning a road trip to the Aloha State, a common question is: how long is the drive to Hawaii?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: It would take approximately 2-3 weeks of nonstop driving over about 5,000 miles to reach Hawaii by car from the continental United States.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about making the epic road trip from the mainland US to Hawaii. We’ll look at optimal routes, average drive times from various starting points, must-see stops along the way, tips for driving long distances, and the pros and cons of driving versus flying.

Routes from Mainland US to Hawaii

Planning a trip to Hawaii and wondering how long it will take to drive there? Well, the truth is, you can’t actually drive to Hawaii from the mainland US. The Pacific Ocean stands in your way, making it impossible to reach the islands by car.

However, there are a few routes you can take to get as close as possible to your dream destination.

Southern route via Los Angeles

If you are starting your journey from the southern states, the most common route to reach Hawaii is via Los Angeles. From the City of Angels, you can catch a flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to one of the major airports in Hawaii, such as Honolulu International Airport (HNL).

The flight duration from Los Angeles to Honolulu is approximately 5 to 6 hours, depending on the airline and weather conditions.

Northern route via San Francisco

For those located in the northern states, the route to Hawaii typically involves a flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). San Francisco serves as a major hub for flights to Hawaii, with numerous airlines offering direct flights to various Hawaiian islands.

The flight duration from San Francisco to Honolulu is similar to that from Los Angeles, around 5 to 6 hours.

Variations and detours

While the routes mentioned above are the most common ways to reach Hawaii from the mainland US, there are variations and detours you can consider. For example, you may choose to fly from other major cities, such as Seattle, Portland, or even Chicago, to connect with flights to Hawaii.

Additionally, some travelers opt for a stopover in another city, such as Las Vegas or Phoenix, to break up the journey and explore a different destination along the way.

It’s important to note that flight durations can vary depending on factors such as wind patterns, aircraft type, and flight conditions. It’s always a good idea to check with the airlines for the most up-to-date information on flight times and routes.

For more detailed information on flights and routes to Hawaii, you can visit Hawaiian Airlines or Alaska Airlines, both of which offer extensive services to the islands.

Drive Times to Hawaii from Major US Cities

Los Angeles to Hawaii

While the idea of driving to Hawaii might sound exciting, it’s important to note that it’s not physically possible to drive there. Hawaii is an archipelago consisting of eight main islands, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

However, if you’re wondering about the travel time from Los Angeles to Hawaii by other means, the most common way to reach Hawaii is by air. A non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, takes around 5-6 hours.

Flights from other cities in California, such as San Francisco or San Diego, have similar travel times.

Las Vegas to Hawaii

Driving from Las Vegas to Hawaii is not possible due to the vast ocean between the two locations. However, if you’re planning a trip from Las Vegas to Hawaii, you’ll need to catch a flight. Direct flights from Las Vegas to Honolulu take approximately 6-7 hours.

It’s worth noting that flight times may vary depending on factors such as weather conditions and the specific airline.

San Francisco to Hawaii

Similar to other cities on the west coast, driving from San Francisco to Hawaii is not feasible. However, there are several direct flights available from San Francisco to Honolulu, with an average travel time of around 5-6 hours.

If you’re planning a trip to one of the other islands, such as Maui or Kauai, you may need to take a connecting flight from Honolulu.

Seattle to Hawaii

Driving from Seattle to Hawaii is not possible due to the vast distance and the need to cross the Pacific Ocean. However, there are multiple direct flights from Seattle to Honolulu, with an average flight time of around 6-7 hours.

It’s important to note that flight times can vary depending on factors such as the specific airline and any layovers.

Road Trip Tips for Driving to Hawaii

Bring an emergency kit

Embarking on a road trip to Hawaii is an exhilarating adventure, but it’s important to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances along the way. One essential tip is to bring an emergency kit that includes basic supplies such as a first-aid kit, a flashlight, extra batteries, a tire repair kit, and a portable phone charger.

Additionally, don’t forget to pack ample water and non-perishable snacks to keep you hydrated and nourished during your journey.

Plan gas, food, and lodging stops

Driving to Hawaii requires meticulous planning, especially when it comes to gas, food, and lodging stops. As you map out your route, make sure to identify gas stations along the way to avoid running out of fuel in remote areas.

Additionally, research restaurants or grocery stores where you can replenish your food supplies. It’s also crucial to plan your lodging stops in advance, as some areas may have limited accommodation options. Consider booking hotels or campsites ahead of time to ensure a comfortable stay.

Prepare for remote areas with no cell service

During your road trip to Hawaii, you may encounter stretches of remote areas with little to no cell service. To stay connected and ensure your safety, it’s advisable to invest in a GPS device or download offline maps on your smartphone before setting off.

This way, you can navigate through unfamiliar territories without relying solely on cellular signal. Additionally, inform your loved ones about your itinerary and check-in with them whenever you can to provide updates on your journey.

Consider shipping your car

While the idea of driving to Hawaii may sound appealing, it’s important to consider the logistics and feasibility of such a journey. Shipping your car to Hawaii can be a more practical and convenient option.

There are several reputable companies that specialize in transporting vehicles to the islands. By shipping your car, you can save time, avoid wear and tear on your vehicle, and eliminate the need for extensive planning and driving through unfamiliar territories.

It’s worth researching different shipping options and comparing prices to determine the best choice for your needs.

Top Attractions and Destinations Along the Way

While the idea of driving to Hawaii may seem impossible, there are actually several amazing attractions and destinations to explore along the way. Here are some of the top highlights to consider when embarking on this unique road trip:

Grand Canyon National Park

No road trip through the western United States would be complete without a visit to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon National Park. Known for its breathtaking views and stunning geological formations, the Grand Canyon offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Take a hike along the rim, go rafting in the Colorado River, or simply marvel at the sheer magnitude of this natural wonder.

Las Vegas Strip

If you’re looking for some excitement and entertainment, make sure to stop by the famous Las Vegas Strip. Known for its vibrant nightlife, world-class casinos, and dazzling shows, Las Vegas offers a unique blend of luxury and excitement.

Whether you’re a fan of gambling, shopping, or simply people-watching, the Las Vegas Strip has something for everyone.

Joshua Tree National Park

Located in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park is a desert oasis that offers stunning landscapes and unique plant life. Explore the park’s hiking trails, camp under the stars, or simply take in the beauty of the iconic Joshua trees.

With its otherworldly scenery and peaceful atmosphere, Joshua Tree is a must-visit destination along the way.

Route 66 landmarks

Driving to Hawaii may not take you on the iconic Route 66, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore some of its landmarks along the way. From the Cadillac Ranch in Texas to the Wigwam Motel in Arizona, Route 66 is filled with quirky attractions and nostalgic Americana.

Take a detour and experience a taste of the classic American road trip.

San Francisco sights

If you’re passing through California, make sure to spend some time exploring the vibrant city of San Francisco. From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the historic Alcatraz Island, San Francisco is filled with world-famous sights and attractions.

Take a ride on the iconic cable cars, indulge in delicious cuisine at Fisherman’s Wharf, or simply enjoy the city’s unique atmosphere.

These are just a few of the many attractions and destinations you can discover while driving to Hawaii. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination, so take the time to explore and enjoy the incredible sights along the way.

The Pros and Cons of Driving to Hawaii

See iconic American landscapes

One of the major advantages of driving to Hawaii is the opportunity to see some of the most iconic American landscapes along the way. From the stunning coastal views of California to the majestic mountains of Colorado, the journey to Hawaii can be an unforgettable road trip experience.

Travelers can take their time to explore different states and attractions, making the journey itself an adventure.

Total trip cost and planning

When it comes to the cost of the trip, driving to Hawaii can be a more budget-friendly option compared to flying. While the initial cost of driving might include gas expenses and accommodations, it can be more affordable for families or groups traveling together.

Additionally, driving allows for more flexibility in terms of packing and bringing supplies, potentially saving money on food and other necessities during the trip.

However, it is important to note that driving to Hawaii requires careful planning. The trip involves crossing several states and bodies of water, which means travelers must consider ferry fees, road tolls, and potential hotel stays along the way.

It is also crucial to research and plan for each leg of the journey, ensuring that the route is safe and enjoyable.

Time commitment and fatigue

Driving to Hawaii is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a significant time commitment, as the journey can take several days or even weeks depending on the starting point. The long hours behind the wheel can be tiring and may lead to fatigue.

It is important for drivers to take regular breaks, get enough rest, and switch drivers if possible to ensure safety on the road.

Car maintenance and breakdowns

Driving long distances also puts additional strain on the vehicle, increasing the chances of car maintenance issues and breakdowns. It is essential to have a well-maintained and reliable vehicle before embarking on such a journey.

Regular check-ups, oil changes, and tire rotations are crucial to minimize the risk of unexpected breakdowns. It is also recommended to carry a roadside emergency kit and have a plan in place for getting assistance in case of any car troubles.

Limited flexibility once in Hawaii

Once in Hawaii, driving can have its limitations. The state is composed of islands, and while it is possible to bring a car over on a ferry, it may not be the most practical option for island exploration.

Public transportation and guided tours are often the preferred methods of getting around, especially in more congested areas. Renting a car locally is also a popular choice for visitors, as it allows for more flexibility and convenience in exploring different parts of the islands.


Making the epic 5,000 mile drive from the mainland US to Hawaii is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list trip for adventurous road warriors. With careful planning and preparation, you can soak up breathtaking scenery and make unforgettable stops along your 2-3 week coastal or inland journey.

While flying may be faster and cheaper, driving allows you to fully appreciate the grand scale and diversity of America on your way to the tropical paradise of Hawaii. Just be ready for an unforgettable adventure on the open road!

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