Did you know there are at least 151 flights between Hawaii and the mainland USA daily? Hawaii has thousands of flights because it receives millions of visitors annually. It is also in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so if you don’t want to fly, you have the option of traveling by water.
You can travel to Hawaii without flying by taking a voyage or cruise from the west coast or traveling by boat. You may need to use multiple modes of transport, such as the road, rail, or both, to get to the port. Traveling by boat takes days or weeks, so you should prepare for a long journey.
In this article, I’ll explain how you can travel to Hawaii without flying and what you should expect from this journey, so read on!
1. Determine the Closest Cruise Departure Ports
Most people who don’t want to fly to Hawaii, or even those that do, use cruise ships to visit the various Hawaii Islands. Most cruise ships visit four main islands, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.
You should find the closest departure ports if you intend to use a cruise ship. Most cruise ships depart from the West Coast, specifically Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and San Diego.
The departure location, duration of the cruise, and destination are critical when planning a Hawaii cruise. Most cruises last 7-15 nights, so you need to add these days to the duration it will take you to get to the port.
If you depart from California, you will likely have a 15-night itinerary because it takes 5 days on the sea to get to Hawaii and another 4-5 days back to Hawaii. You then have another 5 days to explore the Hawaii Islands.
2. Evaluate How Best To Get to the Port
The greatest challenge to traveling to Hawaii without flying will be determining how you can get to the port. Will you travel by road or rail, or both? The mode of transport will depend on where you are coming from and the departure point to Hawaii.
If you are in Washington, DC, or California, you may not need to travel long distances since the West Coast is the main departure point for most cruise ships.
Some journeys take days or weeks to get to the cruise departure port. You may take the bus, drive or even use the rail. You should know the distance you will need to travel and the duration it will take.
You also need to ensure your arrival at the port coincides with the cruise’s departure time. Plan to arrive early and rest for a day or so before your cruise departs, so you don’t have to worry about missing your cruise.
3. Check the Best Time To Go for a Hawaiian Cruise
Cruise ships follow a specific schedule, and some seasons are more suitable for a Hawaiian cruise.
- Spring cruises (April to Early June). The weather is usually excellent, fares are low, and the demand for the Hawaii cruise is low. This is also the off-peak season in Hawaii. If you want to avoid crowds, this is the best time to go for a Hawaiian cruise.
- September to mid-December is the other off-peak season. The prices are favorable, and the weather is still great because the rain starts in November-December.
- Family holidays are common from June-August because schools are usually closed on the mainland. People going on summer holidays also take advantage of going to Hawaii, so the cruise is generally crowded, and the prices are high. The downside is fewer cruise lines provide interisland cruises, so the opportunities to get a cruise ship from the mainland ports may be limited.
- Cruises during winter are crowded as people seek to escape winter in the other US states. Unfortunately, Hawaii cruise prices are usually higher during this season.
4. Find the Right Cruise Line To Use
Although Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, few cruise lines operate there. This is primarily because of the strict requirements for cruise lines. For example, The crew has to be mainly American, and the cruise line must be registered in the US.
Some of the cruise lines operating in Hawaii are:
- Pride of America. This Norwegian cruise line is one of the few that meet all the requirements for operating in Hawaii. It offers 8-day-7 night round trip cruises around Honolulu every week, all year long. Guests spend 100 hours on the Islands and nights on Maui and Kauai.
- Princess, Holland, and Carnival are the other cruise lines that operate in Hawaii. However, they offer longer cruises, taking an average of 15-nights or longer. The cruise ships offer more extensive visits around Hawaii, such as stopovers in Lahaina.
- Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have itineraries that include the Hawaii Islands: However, it is important to note that the islands are just a part of a multi-destination itinerary. For example, Hawaii to Vancouver, BC, and Tahiti.
5. Join a Voyage
When you search for voyages to Hawaii, you’ll discover cruises that take months, with multiple destinations, including the Hawaii Islands. Most of these voyages depart from Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
Florida is about half the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii. The cruise will also take you through the Panama Canal. So, if you have the time and are ready to spend weeks on the water, these voyages are great because they eventually get to Hawaii.
Depending on the voyage, you may visit other destinations, such as Singapore, Japan, and Hongkong.
6. Travel by Boat
The other alternative to traveling to Hawaii without flying is going by sailboat. The boat or yacht must be large enough for all your supplies, food, and space to rest. It should also be large enough to withstand the weather conditions you are likely to encounter at sea.
Participants of the ocean race, a famous yacht race that takes place every three to four years, claim that the most challenging part of the race is usually when crossing the Pacific, so you should expect a tough journey.
As you plan your journey, you need to check the weather and ensure you pick a period when you are unlikely to encounter harsh weather while at sea.
San Diego to Hawaii is approximately 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 kilometers), while Alaska to Hawaii is 2,425 nautical miles (4,491 kilometers). This journey will take two to four weeks, so you must take several measures.
- Sail when the Pacific is calmest. The best time to depart from the West Coast is in the summer, preferably in May, before the hurricane season. During summer, the weather is warm, and the waters are calm during this period. However, don’t wait to depart in late summer because you may encounter summer storms.
- Have a good sea anchor if you plan to stop and rest.
- Check the weather regularly over a few weeks to ensure you will have a smooth sail and when you are confident the weather will not change.
- Carry safety equipment, such as radios and an EPIRB.
- Ensure you have the experience to steer your boat across the Pacific Ocean or travel with people with the necessary expertise.
- Find out the most suitable sailing route. Before you set sail, ensure you have the sailing guide.
|Distance to Hawaii
|Non-stop Sailing Time
|3,100 nautical miles (5,741 kilometers)
2,500 nautical miles (4,630 kilometers)
High-speed boats take 1-2 weeks
2,600 nautical miles (4,815 kilometers)
High-performance boats take a week
2400 – 2600 nautical miles (4,445 – 4,815 kilometers)
7. Plan for the Time You’ll Spend at Sea
Whichever means you use to go to Hawaii, you will no doubt spend a few days at sea. The cruise and voyage are easier to prepare because you only need to pay for the cruise and have your personal belongings.
When sailing, you are responsible for your survival and well-being. Here’s what you need to ensure a seamless journey in the weeks you spend in the open sea.
Get the Right Boat
When choosing a boat for sailing to Hawaii, you need to consider speed and stability. You will encounter ocean currents and possibly strong winds, so you need a boat that will withstand whatever weather you face while on the Pacific Ocean.
The best boat is one that measures 30 – 40 feet. Longboats cut through the water easily and face little resistance when navigating choppy seas.
A fast boat guarantees that the journey will take a shorter time. The boat’s size will influence the speed. For example, monohulls are not as fast as catamarans. Motorboats are also relatively faster than boats that rely on wind speed.
A good boat should cover approximately 100 nautical miles a day, about 4-5 knots an hour. Traveling from Alaska to Hawaii will take about 31 days at this speed.
The boat’s size is also critical because it will determine how much you can carry. If you will spend two weeks or more at sea, you need to ensure you have enough food and other supplies. You also need space to rest.
You also need to consider the boat’s gasoline intake. An average yacht carries about 200 gallons (379 liters) of fuel. A journey from San Francisco to Hawaii requires at least 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters).
Consider how much fuel that tank carries at the start of the journey, and then bring some extra fuel. However, you may not have the luxury or space to take all the extra fuel you need. You can save consumption by using the sails whenever possible.
List the Supplies You Need
The journey to Hawaii is long, and you need to have everything you need in your boat. Unless you encounter other boats ready to share their supplies, you may be stranded at sea if you do not plan well.
Some of the things you need to have on your list include:
- Enough food for the duration you will be at sea.
- Drinking water, approximately a gallon (3.78 liters) a day.
- Clothes for different kinds of weather.
- Tools for carrying out simple repairs, should anything go wrong.
You must be careful when determining the items to carry because you can easily overload the boat. You should also consider the crew’s weight and the boat’s recommended weight. However, you shouldn’t compromise the crew’s health if you’ll be traveling for a few weeks.
It’s also best to prepare for your trip a few weeks ahead of time. This way, you don’t have to rush, and you won’t forget anything. I recommend reading my guide to see how far ahead you should start planning your trip to Hawaii and what you need to consider.
Check That You Are Physically and Emotionally Healthy
Although the state of the boat is critical, your health is also important. You and your crew need to ensure you are physically and mentally ready for the journey. The journey can be grueling, especially if it takes weeks. You will make quick decisions when needed when you are physically and emotionally fit.
Have a Dependable Crew
The people you travel with are critical for your trip to Hawaii. You need a crew with the experience and expertise to steer the boat during the journey. Have someone who can be in the cockpit when you are resting.
Ensure the number of people on board does not affect the boat’s stability. You’d rather have a few dependable people on board than too many people who will not be helpful in a crisis.
Check the Boat Before Departure
A few days before departure, check the boat to confirm it is safe for use. Service the boat, check the engine, and ensure that all the mechanical systems function optimally.
You must also check the navigational devices, such as GPS, radar, autopilot, and maritime radio. You will depend on these systems on the open ocean, whether you’ll be traveling for a few hours or weeks, so you want to ensure they are working accurately.
Most people fly to Hawaii because it is the most practical means of transport. It saves time, and you will spend more time exploring the islands. However, if you don’t want to or prefer not to fly, you can try scheduled cruises or go by boat. Unfortunately, traveling through the ocean is hard work, and you must plan extensively to guarantee a seamless journey.
- Simple Flying: US Mainland To Hawaii Flights: What Are The Options In 2021?
- Hawaiian Cruise Guide: Departure Ports of Cruises to the Hawaiian Islands
- Princess: Hawaiian Cruises: Cruise to Hawaii with Princess
- NCL: Pride of America
- Holland America Line: HAWAII & TAHITI CRUISES
- The Ocean Race
- Life Of Sailing: When to Sail Across the Pacific
- Sailing Guides: Sailing Guide: California to Hawaii (San Francisco, LA & Seattle)
- azcentral: How to Cruise a Motor Boat From California to Hawaii
- Best Boat Report: How Big of a Boat to Cross the Pacific?
- Routes Of Change: Sailing a SMALL BOAT from California to Hawaii Across the Pacific Ocean – Ep# 37 – 41