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Oct 18, 2007 06:59 PM

3 Hours in Honolulu between Islands

My wife and I will be island hopping through Hawaii in November and we have about a 3 hour layover in Honolulu for our Island Air flight from the Big Island to Kauai. This is the only time we will be on Oahu and we want to hit a quick, but good restaurant near the airport.

Any recommendations?

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  1. Three hours is a bit tight, but we've done Indigo:
    in Chinatown with 4. Great food, and not THAT far from HNL.Since you'll be InterIsland to InterIsland, it should not be that big a deal. In our case it was InterIsland to Mainland, and we made it, but it was also pre-9/11, so there were not the security lines, etc.


    1. There really aren't any upscale restaurants "near" the airport, and whether or not you can make it downtown or even waikiki in that time period really depends on the time of day. If it is during commute traffic (from about 3:30 or 4 till around 6 or 6:30) it would be problematic.

      You might consider "Da Big Kahuna" in the Airport Industrial Area. Most website reviews still show the old Puuloa address, but they moved about three months ago. I haven't been, but have heard the food survived the move, although I am sure they lost some of the atmosphere. They have broke da mout pulled / bbq sandwiches, onolicious pizza, and the "garlic cheese balls" will harden your arteries on the spot (bread dough baked with cheese, olive oil and garlic).

      For something a little more "local" there is Byron's drive-in (or dive-in as some say). The plate lunches are good, especially the daily specials, and they have unique items like deep fried pickles and zucchini. This is not "haute cuisine" by any stretch of the imagination.

      If you have a little more time you might try to get to "La Mariana" on Sand Island Access road. It is only about half the distance to downtown, and usually the traffic doesnt back up that far. It is a bit difficult to find, but a taxi driver should be able to get there. Once you find the entrance and navigate your way to the front door, you will be expecting Thurston and Lovey Howell to make an appearance at any moment. It is a totally self conscious/unconscious tiki fest. The food isn't bad, and you will definitely know you are in the tropics.

      Next stop towards town isNico's at Pier 38. It is off Nimitz highway, another 1/4 of the way. They close at 6, so it would have to be an early meal. It is not fancy, but some of the best, freshest, and wonderfully prepared fish I have ever eaten.

      If you have time to make it as far as downtown, I have to agree with Hunt that Indigo is great. Also consider Chai's and maybe Duc's Bistro - much less well known, but very good. Again... you are really pushing the clock here, and even with short check in times on interisland flights, at 3 hours total layover, i'd be nervous about how much time you would have to enjoy your meal.

      3 Replies
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        Please refresh my memory. It seems that someone had recs. for a little restaurant/food booth IN the InterIsland terminal at HNL. There was a similar thread, about a year ago, and this place, which I have not tried, nor know the name of, got some pretty good reviews. I'd suggest a Search This Board (go back at least a year), or hope that some of the locals can fill in the blank.

        For me, 3 hrs. is too close for comfort, though with InterIsland travel, there are tons of filghts per day, so missing one is not the end of the world.


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          it is easier to get on an earlier flight if you have a long layover than to try to board a later flight if you miss one. sometimes they are forgiving, sometimes not so much. There are not nearly as many flights as there were even 5 years ago, and Island Air has fewer flights than Aloha or Hawaiian. The OP did not give their flight times, but it might behove them to try to switch to a later flight when they arrive in Honolulu. Getting back and forth to Byrons or DaBigKahuna should be a 15 minute process, if they can get a taxi. They are only about a 20 minute walk if it came to that, but you would have to know where you are going.

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            Yes, you are probably correct. We've jumped earlier flights, when we got there early, but I've never tried for a later one. We usually fly Aloha, and sometimes Hawaiian, so I do not know about Island Air, or the Mesa Airline startup. What is it, Go Air, or something like that? Even though they are based here (PHX), I've always gone with the first two, to keep more of the $s in the Islands. Besides, they always give me great service, so why change, even if one saves a few $s?


      2. I would leave Oahu for another time. 3 hours is just to short these days. The time you go thru security, board etc, this all eats up close to an hour at HNL.What you might think of doing is flying standby on an earlier flight, depending on the time of day, they often can fit you in. Don't know the policies on Island air, but Hawaiian does it all the time. This way you will have that much more time on Kauai. One of our favorites!
        Don't miss Hamura's on Kress St for the best Local Saimin and to die for Lilikoi pie.

        1. If you want a great local flavor slash gourmet plate lunch, I would recommend Jurrison's Inn for the Ahi Katsu Plate in Waikele Shopping Center (Exit 7 Waikele/Waipahu, northbound on H1, in the mall strip corner next to Chili's/McDonalds; Home Depot Area - not the Shopping Outlet Area). It's absolutely my favorite, about $8.95 for seared/crusted ahi with rice and vegetables. I've taken a few friends there for a speedy
          lunch on a layover similar to yours.

          Jurison's Inn
          Waikele Premium Outlets
          94-799 Lumiaina Street Space 2H
          Telephone: 808.676.1171