Ask the Big Kahuna
“Answering the most common visitor questions”
I have been searching for hours to find information about interisland ferry travel. Does it exist now? I know it did at one time, I even found an articles discussing future sites with large carriers. I am trying to plan some excursions from Maui to Molokai or Lanai.
Also I am trying to plan another (flying) excursion from the Big Island to Kauai and would like to know of a company that specializes in this particular service. It seems like everything on the net is geared toward mainland to Honolulu. Any information/direction/website would be appreciated.
San Antonio, Texas
Let me shed some morning light on your ferry question…
As of now, there is some ferry service, but only between Maui and Lanai, and between Maui and Molokai.
One small-boat ferry service provides five daily 45-minute round trips or one-way trips between Maui and Lanai (people only; no cars). Passengers can go on deck to take photographs or simply enjoy the views offered by Maui County – the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe, and on a clear day, maybe the Big Island.
Another small-boat ferry makes one daily trip between Maui and Molokai. One way takes about 90 minutes. The trips seem scheduled more for Molokai residents commuting to and from work on Maui rather than tourists, as the ferry leaves Molokai at 6 am and the return leaves Maui at 5 pm.
For either of these small-boat ferries, you will need your sea legs in good working order. You will feel every wave.
In the 70s, we had interisland hydrofoil ferries connecting Honolulu with Maui and the Big Island. Reports are that the ships would sometimes hit objects in the water, and mechanical difficulties would leave passengers wallowing in the channel for hours. Whatever the real reason, they are no longer in operation.
Flying between islands is by far the most popular choice for interisland transit. Air travel is the fastest way to get from one island to another (about 20 minutes air time). For interisland flights, the largest carriers are Go! Airlines (Mesa Air), Hawaiian Airlines, and Island Air. Some carriers have direct flights from the mainland to all major islands. Check their current schedules.
In 2007-2009, the Hawaii Superferry began and suspended service between Kauai, Maui and Oahu. There was significant controversy over environmental issues, such as the dangers of inadvertently importing alien species from island-to-island with unintended consequences, the impact on sea life, especially on the endangered humpback whale, etc. Guam experienced such consequences when they imported the brown tree snake, resulting in the disappearance of most birds on Guam. All of the Hawaiian Islands have a bounty of birds, but none have snakes.
Ultimately, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the Hawaii Superferry was operating unconstitutionally and forced it to cease operations and the ferry left the islands (returning to its Mobile, Alabama home via the Panama Canal).
Enjoy your visit!