Visitors can fly into Hilo International Airport (ITO) in Hilo on the east side of Hawaii’s Big Island, however, there are more direct flights from the U.S., Canada and Japan to Kona International Airport (KOA) in Kona to the west. There is also the option of flying into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu first and then taking a short, 35-40 minute flight to Hilo.
Because the island is so big, consider arriving on one side of the island and departing from the other. For example, you might fly into Kona, explore that side of the island for a few days, then drive to the Hilo side (roughly 2 hrs, 30 min) and explore for awhile longer before flying out from the Hilo Airport, or vice-versa. (Be sure to ask car rental companies about drop off charges.)
We recommend a rental car for flexibility and ease, and we strongly suggest booking before you arrive—sometimes cars aren’t immediately available when you step up to the counter without a reservation. All major rental companies are found on Hawaii’s Big Island and are located at the airports as well as some resorts. There are also guided tours of every type ranging from bus tours to private limos. Taxis are available curbside. Find more Hilo transportation options below: