The TripIt Guide to Honolulu International Airport

By TripIt

May 16, 2017

We’re probably not telling you anything you don’t already know when we tell you that “going to the airport” isn’t exactly on everyone’s bucket list. But just like every destination is different, so is every airport. And just as navigating a new city is challenging in and of itself, so is navigating a new airport. Should I go for Ivar’s chowder or Beecher’s mac ‘n cheese at SeaTac? Do I have time to do yoga at SFO’s Terminal 2? How long will it take to get to ATL’s Concourse E for a cocktail at One Flew South?

If you’re anything like us, then these are probably the types of questions you have that perhaps you don’t get push notifications for. But never fear, because we have answers to your airport questions with our series of guides to America’s airports. Today we bring you the TripIt airport guide to Honolulu International Airport (HNL).

About HNL

Located on the south coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Honolulu International Airport is just a few miles northwest of Honolulu. It’s the largest airport in Hawaii, with more than 20 million passengers coming through it every year. It’s the main hub for Hawaiian Airlines, as well as a number of smaller airlines, such as Island Air and Mokulele Airlines, which both offer inter-island service. HNL features three main terminals, though most flights arrive and depart from the Interisland Terminal and Overseas Terminal. Intra-airport shuttles transport passengers between terminals. Public bus service runs to HNL from Honolulu and Waikiki, though most people use a taxi or rent a car from one of several rental car agencies located at the airport. Wi-Fi is available throughout Honolulu Airport for a small fee.


While HNL is an international airport, it doesn’t quite have the options of your typical major airport. Nonetheless, many of its options are locally-inspired, such as Lahaina Chicken & Pizza (Central Concourse), featuring a selection of different types of chicken, pork, and pizza, and Stinger Ray's Tropical Bar & Grill (Interisland Terminal), where you can have Hawaiian plate lunch staples, such as loco moco. You also have a number of franchises, such as Burger King, Pinkberry, California Pizza Kitchen, Coldstone Creamery, and Gordon Biersch. While HNL might not have as many restaurant options as many major airports, it’s just a couple miles from a number of great Honolulu restaurants, such as Mitch’s Fish Market, Family BBQ, and Pad Thai.


Some of the places listed above double as your best bets for grabbing a drink, such as Gordon Biersch, which brews its own German-style beers like pilsner and hefeweizen, but also has a full bar. Additionally, Stinger Ray's Tropical Bar & Grill has a full bar with a great selection of beer and wine. Elsewhere, there’s Dewar’s Clubhouse, a golf-themed restaurant and bar that includes draft beer from Kona Brewing Company. Continuing with the local trend is Island Brews, which not only has local beer, but also Hawaii-themed cocktails like a Mai Tai and Blue Hawaiian. For less in the way of rum and rum punches and more in the way of tequila and margaritas, visit Tequileria Restaurante y Cantina.


Honolulu International Airport is unique in that throughout the airport grounds there are several gardens, including a Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian garden, many of which have been there for decades. The outdoor green spaces include everything from flora that represent each garden to sculptures and lagoons. A number of shops, such as Hawaii Market, are your last chance to get some macadamia nuts or Kona coffee to take home. HNL’s great asset, however, is its convenience, as you can be into Honolulu proper in as little as 10 minutes. Attractions within just a few minutes of Honolulu International Airport include the Living Art Marine Center and a number of beaches.

Airport Lounges

While Honolulu International Airport is a smaller airport, it has a number of domestic and international airline lounges. Many of the major domestic carriers have lounges, including Delta, United, and American, while international airline lounges include Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Korean, and Japan Airlines.

Written By:


Spencer is a seasoned food, drink, and travel writer who has written for publications from Outside Magazine to Travel + Leisure and Los Angeles Times. When he's not traveling, he's perfecting his favorite cocktails in his home bar. He chronicles his adventures (and cocktails) on his travel site, Whiskey Tango Globetrot.