Several of the most spectacular natural sights in the whole of the United States, such as the Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast, are situated thousands of miles across the Pacific on the Polynesian archipelago of Hawaii. And then there are the state's exquisite beaches, unmatchable surfing waves and luxuriant resorts, as well as its fascinating Polynesian culture that makes it utterly unlike anywhere else in the United States. For these reasons and more, any US resident interested in travel simply has to make the trip out there at some point.
Here at Hopper we've done some of the hard work for Houston residents and calculated the five cheapest Hawaiian destinations, on average, that you can fly to from George Bush International. So all you have to do now is decide which of Hawaii's diversely spectacular islands you want to focus on, and you're ready to go.
Kailua/Kona, nestled on the barren lower slopes of the Hualalai Volcano, is the main city on the western side of Hawaii's Big Island. As its name suggests, this is by far the biggest of the fragments of land that make up the Hawaiian archipelago, but it's also a lot less populated than its neighbours Maui and Oahu; in general, it remains a quiet, rural community of scattered villages. Kona is the biggest town and also, basking in the sun beside the waters of the Pacific, the site of the majority of the island's tourist resorts, so it provides something of a mid-point between the island's potential for real isolation and the tourist hordes that crowd other Hawaiian destinations. It's a great spot for all sorts of watersports and hosts numerous significant cultural sites. Delta run the cheapest flights from Houston, which are just as quick as any other option.
Lihue is the biggest city and transport hub of Kauai, Hawaii's northernmost island and the ideal destination for those keen to experience the archipelago's wildest and most spectacular natural sights. Nicknamed the Garden Island, it is blanketed with tropical rainforest and flanked by jagged cliffs that plunge down to more miles of sandy coastline than circle any of its neighbours. Its most memorable sights include the Waimea Canyon, a green-flecked sibling to Arizona's own geological marvel, and the Na Pali coast, which provides a jaw-dropping challenge for experienced hikers. Delta again operate the cheapest flights from Houston, which are at their cheapest between April and May.
Hilo sits across the way from Kona, on the Big Island's more verdant eastern half. This makes it a good starting point for hikes into the rainforest, particularly to see a series of spectacular waterfalls which are situated near the town. The town itself has a number of interesting sights, such as the Pacific Tsunami Museum and Hilo Art Museum. But really a visit to the Big Island's eastern half is all about Volcanoes National Park, the spectacular site of both the world's biggest volcano by volume, Mauna Loa, and its most active, Kilauea. Flights from Houston are indirect with either United or US-American, with United offering the cheapest airfares.
By a vast margin Hawaii's biggest city, Honolulu is the site of the state's best museums, including the massive Bishop Museum, and the vast majority of its bars, clubs, restaurants, theaters and other entertainment. But while the city itself is a diverting place in which to spend time, really a trip to Honolulu is all about the surrounding beaches fringing Oahu island. The most famous is of course Waikiki, a blanket of white sand spread beneath the point of Diamond's Head, but if you'd prefer somewhere quieter you can head to Ala Mona Bay. Scuba divers should hit up Hanauma Bay, which is contained in the crater of an extinct volcano, while experienced surfers can take on the giant waves at Makapu'u Beach. Delta run the cheapest route from Houston, or you can pay an extra $100 to travel direct with United and shave a few hours from your travel time.
Maui is Hawaii's second biggest island both in terms of size and tourist numbers, with its beautiful beaches at Kaanapali and Kihei lined with resorts to serve the swelling stream of visitors. It's a top spot for outdoor activities both on land (hiking and cycling) and water (watersports, diving and sailing), and also for whale-watching during winter, when you can see thousands of humpback whales migrating to the region's warm Pacific waters. Keen motorists should consider flying to the island simply to experience the winding road out to the remote town of Hana, known as the Hana Highway, which swoops past ravines, waterfalls, rainforests and stomach-stealing cliff-edge drops. Delta run the cheapest flights between Maui's transport hub, Kahului, and Houston, which are as quick as any alternative.