know before you go: KOA


The long anticipated Southwest to Hawaii routes just went on sale, and man were there some good deals (especially if you have flexible schedules).  I’m definitely going to have to take advantage of a random Tuesday flight one of these days –worth it for < $100 from LAX.  The departure cities are mostly from Northern California and the destinations are three airports for now: HNL (Oahu), OGG (Maui) and KOA (Big Island), with the hope to expand to more destinations and inter-island flights.

Often times overshadowed by it’s flashier sister Oahu, a Big Island adventure is actually Hawaiian must.  So much vast, natural beauty.  Volcanoes National Park, Waipio, Akaka Falls and black sand beaches are just a few delightful destinations on this very large island.  Throwback to my 5 day itinerary, which is a perfect amount of time to spend hanging loose in the Hawaiian tropics.

Ellison Onizuka (in honor of Challenger astronaut and hometown hero) Kona Airport is the Big Island’s larger airport (the other being Hilo ITO) and it truly looks like a Polynesian village when you taxi towards the main cluster of buildings.  It really reminds me of the Siem Reap airport in Cambodia, too.  The bulk of the structure is outdoors, because it is so temperate and gorgeous in Hawaii.

There are technically two Terminals 1 which has gates 1-5, and 2 which houses gates 6-10.  It only has one runway, and still uses ramps to board and deplane passengers from planes.  I love these kinds of airports, it makes you feel like you’re flying Pan Am in the 60s or something.  Southwest joins Hawaiian, Japan, United, Delta, Alaska and American.

Remember: ✈️ = go Big Island or go home to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = Bigger the Island, the better

Distance from city: ✈️✈️✈️ (about 7 miles from Kona Village, 25 miles from the resorts on the Kohala Gold Coast — give yourself time if you’re renting a car, it can take a long time)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (could probably walk from one side to the other in 5 minutes)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️ (a lot of families, one security area, you do the math)

Dining: ✈️ (there’s not much, so highly suggest picking up something from Pine Tree Cafe nearby — the chicken karaage and mac salad, mmm so good)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️ (not many, but not usually crowded)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️ (no wifi set up yet)

Amenities: ✈️✈️ (you can definitely get lei’d here, and that’s a plus right?)


Mele kalikimaka: a very Hawaiian Xmas


Aloha, one of my favorite places to spend the holiday season (or any season) is Hawaii!  It’s the perfect getaway for a tropical vacation while staying on American soil (although I have heard tourists ask what currency is used there — facepalm).  As a Westcoaster, the rainbow state is only a stone’s throw 3-4 hour flight away, and Hawaiian airlines is the BEST domestic airline…free Mai Tais, anyone?  We’re lucky to be this close to paradise.

It’s very festive around the holiday season, and it’s a great reprieve from snowy weather — the average is high 70s with frequent showers.  But with many resorts and beaches and shopping and malasadas? Start planning your Hawaiian getaway now for next year.

Mele kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way of saying Merry Christmas to you!

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know before you go: Honolulu (HNL)

A consensus amongst us when we started talking about creating this blog was that there was a lack of information about airports during layovers.  Navigating clunky, confusing, disorganized airport websites isn’t really easy to do on a phone…with limited battery power and spotty service/wifi.

Whether you’re running for your life to make that next flight or have an eternity to kill, we all need the basic 411 to help us get where we’re going.

Our rating system is subjective, but is simple:  One ✈️ = hope your layover is short or this is your final destination because there’s nothing here for you to 5 ✈️ = might as well unpack your bags because this is better than where you live currently.


Recently, I had the pleasure of having a several hour lei-over (see what I did there?) on my way to Kona, HI in what has to be one of the world’s most scenic airports: the Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport (HNL).

There are three terminals connected via outdoor walkways (could there BE a better way for Hawaii to display its temperate climate?):

Terminal 1: commuter; Terminal 2: Interisland; Terminal 3: main

The confusing thing about this airport is that they designate letters for the terminals despite also numbering them.  Terminal 3 is M for main, and Terminal 2 is Z for who knows why.  Most flights from the mainland, including mine on Hawaiian Airlines (the best domestic carrier IMO), arrive in Terminal 3.  Many of the building are really 1970s in architectural style, so you feel like you traveled into the Brady Bunch episode where Bobby finds that evil tiki idol (I think I’m aging myself here).

It’s actually a smaller airport, for being one of the most travelled in the US.  Very easy to walk from one end of the main concourse to the other.  As this is an older airport, there are not as many built in charging areas.  If you’re someone like me who is a little (read: a lot) paranoid about using third party public charging stations (rather than airport controlled), you may be in trouble.  There are random outlets throughout the gate areas, but you’ll be sitting on the floor.  There could also be more bathrooms and better signage for international travelers.


Also, for a large international layover destination, dining options are limited.  It’s mostly fast food options: Starbucks, Pinkberry, Burger King, chinese, sushi, CPK.  There is a Honolulu Cookie Company store, which I appreciate because pineapple shaped shortbreads are the world’s cutest and tastiest souvenirs.

All of this really doesn’t matter though, because the airport plays on the beauty of its locale by being half outside.  You disembark after hours of flying and the tropical humidity offers a big Aloha with a plumeria scented hug.  HNL is basic, no frills, but what are you doing sitting around an airport anyway when you could be on Waikiki throwing up a shaka on a surfboard while drinking a Mai Tai and eating a malasada?  That being said, if you have a lei-over (oops, I did it again), you’re just going to have to wait a little while longer before finding your true hau’oli.  Aloha!

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️

Convenience of security lines: ✈️✈️✈️

Dining: ✈️✈️

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️  (wifi not available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (cultural gardens, airline lounges, luxury duty free shopping options)


oh hi, view of diamond head from the runway, fancy meeting you here