Spotting

O‘AHU
Daniel K Inouye International Airport [HNL/PHNL]
This is an unofficial guide to aircraft spotting locations around the Daniel K Inouye International Airport (fka Honolulu International Airport) [HNL]. HNL RareBirds will not accept any responsibility for any negative (and/or illegal) conduct or actions taken by individuals (and/or groups) while engaging in planespotting and/or photography. Each person assumes responsibility for their own actions and conduct while engaging in aircraft spotting and/or photography around HNL (or any other Hawai‘i airport).

Five Caveats
1) You may be subject to questioning, or an identification check by either deputies from the Hawai‘i State Sheriff's Department (the governing law enforcement agency of HNL), or by airport police officers from Securitas, the private security firm that also guards HNL, especially if they see you with any kind of camera in any of these spotting locations. Please be courteous, and cooperative with them, and comply.

2) If you plan an extended stay in Honolulu, you may want to contact the airport manager’s office to apply for a hobby photographers permit. It’s free, and it will allow you to take photos around HNL, as long it is for personal use, and non-commercial purposes. While there was a recent ruling that amateur photography is legal around public areas of HNL, we still encourage the hobby permit.

3) The spotting locations have little, or no shaded areas. It can get quite warm, sunny, and humid, therefore, sunblock and drinks are strongly recommended. Alcohol consumption is prohibited. There are no public rest facilities, nor water fountains at either Lagoon Drive spotting locations. The nearest public lavatory is located at Ke‘ehi Park, past the tennis courts. There are a good number of take-out eateries along Nimitz Highway, Koapaka Street, and ‘Ualena Street (between Lagoon Drive and Paiea Street). If you have the Yelp! app, that will assist you in seeing the variety of foods that are available, and their hours of operation. Lastly, do not litter.

4) It is recommended to have a rental car when spotting on the Lagoon Drive side of HNL. The municipal bus line, The Bus, no longer has bus service down Lagoon Drive. The nearest bus stop is along Nimitz Highway, or outside HNL's Main Terminal (Departure Level). Taxi fares can run as high as US$50 between Waikīkī and HNL, each way. We aren't sure how much ride-sharing services like Über and Lyft charge, but it may be less than a taxi.

5) There also are no pay phones in the area, so it is recommended that you carry a mobile phone. There is no wifi in the spotting areas, but smartphones can access flight tracking apps through your own mobile data plan.


In late May 2018, the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation re-deignated the terminals, gate numbers and baggage claim.

If you have a boarding pass, or are an arriving passenger on a domestic flight, HNL offers a few open air locations in the Main Terminal, between the three concourses, that offers clear views of aircraft. The Inter-Island Terminal's walkways have been enclosed with glass. Most of the gates also provide excellent viewing spots as well.

The Commuter Terminal (Terminal 3) has been moved to the Diamond Head (east) side of the airport between the United Airlines Cargo and Delta Air Lines Cargo facilities. From Terminal 3, there is no real spotting locations, as the building is behind a chainlink fence, and passengers are escorted to Hardstand 1C (now known as Gate H1) for boarding and deplaning. That is the only real opportunity, though it would be limited what is parked on Hardstand 1B.

There are two locations on the southeast side of HNL, on Lagoon Drive, where spotting is possible. The first is at the extreme south end of Lagoon Drive, in the General Aviation parking lot. This location is excellent for watching traffic depart from the Runway 8R, “the Reef Runway”, and arrivals to both Runways 4L & 4R, during tradewind weather (which is 90-95% of the time). There is a fence to contend with, and standing on one’s car, or through the the sun roof, are ways to overcome that. Do not park in the turn area of the lot. There are a few concrete barriers that you can stand on, however, you assume all responsibility when standing on them. Step-ladders are not advised.

The second location, a parking lot on Palekona Street, is a good location to watch Runway 22L departures, or Runway 4R arrivals.

The length of Lagoon Drive past Aolele Street is a No Parking Zone, and none of the side streets, except Kalewa Street have public street parking.

It's not advised to do any spotting along Elliott Street as well, since the entire length of the street is a No Parking Zone, and all parking areas are private property.

Please do not encroach on any private property to do any spotting, unless you obtain their permission, otherwise it will be construed as trespassing.

There are several times during the course of the year when the winds shift from the northeast tradewinds to the southwesterly “Kona” winds. When these winds occur, the traffic is reversed. Landing traffic will make their final approach abeam the world-famous Waikīkī Beach, and O‘ahu's  south shoreline for both Runways 26L & 26R. Departing traffic will take-off west-bound from Runway 26R; and arriving traffic uses 26L. Runways 22L and 22R is primarily used for general aviation and Cessna Grand Caravan operators.

The top floor of the Inter-Island Terminal’s parking structure offer great views of the ‘Ewa end of the main terminal (Terminals C, D, and E). While the 6th level offers a view of the Inter-Island Terminal (Terminal A) gates. However, loitering is not advised.


Kalaeloa Airport (John Rodgers Field) [JRF/PHJR]
The former Naval Air Station Barbers Point is primarily used for general aviation.

On the west end of the airport, is the Naval Air Museum at Barbers Point, which does feature a former ATI DC-8-62, N799AL; along with several retired US Navy, US Marine Corps, and US Coast Guard aircraft associated with the former Naval Air Station Barbers Point, and naval aviation in Hawai‘i. Please check the above link for their hours of operation.

On the south end of JRF, is the Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, which houses the 14th District's aircraft (HC-130Hs and HH-65s).

On occasion, there are airliner ferry flights that transit through JRF. There are also times when military transports that use JRF as an overflow whenever the Hickam ramp is full.

The Hawai‘i Air National Guard performs touch-and-go landings by their KC-135Rs and C-17As. Antonov An-124s have been at JRF for cargo charter flights on behalf of the Hawai‘i Army National Guard.

Coral Sea Road, which is on the departure end of Runways 4L and 4R, has some areas on the side of the road that are viewable for 4R departures, and 22L arrivals.


Dillingham Airfield [HDH/PHDH]
Dillingham Airfield, on O‘ahu's northwest side, in Mokuleia, is the island's primary airport for skydiving activities.


O‘ahu Revised  8 July 2018



NEIGHBOR ISLANDS
At the present time, this is the best spotting information we have for the following Neighbor Island major airports. As with HNL, HNL RareBirds will not accept any responsibility for any actions taken (or conduct) by individuals while engaging in planespotting and/or photography. Each person assumes responsibility for their own actions while spotting and/or photographing around Neighbor Island Airports. We will update any new information as it comes available.

MAUI
Kahului Airport [OGG/PHOG]
OGG is the second busiest airport in Hawai‘i. Within the main terminal, there are quite a number of windows that look out toward the ramp. On a clear day, Mount Haleakalā makes a perfect backdrop. An empty gate can get you clear shots of taxiing aircraft on Taxiway A, and some movements on Runway 2/20. The quality of the view depends on the cleanliness of the windows.

Outside of OGG, Hansen Road, that runs between Hāna Highway and Mokulele Highway is a possible location, though it is a bit far, and requires a long lens. There is the new Pu‘unene Shopping Center along the landing path of Runway 2, that parking lot should provide some arrival shots. The Courtyard by Marriott, outside OGG, has some views of arrivals, but best from the north end high floors facing Haleakalā. Another spotting location is along the beach on Sprecklesville Road, off of Hāna Highway. It's near the departure end of Runway 2, and it requires an air band receiver, since that end is at a higher elevation that the approach end.

Other roads around OGG are subject to security patrols, and spotting is not advised there.


Kapalua Airport [JHM/PHJM]
The Kapalua Airport, located on the slopes of the West Maui Mountains is served by ‘Ohana by Hawaiian and Mokulele Airlines. FedEx Feeder flights makes occasional flights there as well.


HAWAI‘I
Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole [KOA/PHKO]
KOA, named after the Kona-born Space Shuttle astronaut, who perished in the 1986 Shuttle Challenger accident, is the third busiest airport in Hawai‘i. Gates at KOA provide great views and photo opportunities, as all boarding is done by stairs, and an open-air walk to the terminals or the aircraft. Of course, there will be fellow passengers and ground service equipment in your photos.

Outside KOA, there is a location at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA), south of KOA, as well as Wawaioli Beach Park, both on Makako Bay Drive. It offers arrival views to Runway 35.

KOA's FBO ramp is also used for SilkAir and Nok Air 737 delivery flight stopovers.


Hilo International Airport [ITO/PHTO]
Most of the air traffic at Hilo are from Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Air Cargo. It only has one United Airlines 737-824 flight from LAX that operates a few times per week, as well as a FedEx MD-11F from HNL that also operates a few times per week. Kamaka Air and FedEx Feeder also has Caravan Cargomaster flights to ITO.

Outside ITO, the corner of Kamehameha Avenue and Silva Street offers views of Runways 8/26 and 3/21.


Waimea-Kohala Airport (Kamuela) [MUE/PHMU]
Commonly referred to as the Kamuela Airport, MUE's airline service is limited to Mokulele Airlines and TransAir.



KAUA‘I
Līhuʻe Airport [LIH/PHLI]
LIH is the fourth busiest Hawai‘i airport. Other than from the gates, there's no spotting information available for this airport. LIH does have mainland service by Alaska, American, Hawaiian, Delta, and United, though most of the flights arrive in the afternoon. Hawaiian Airlines inter-island flights run throughout the day.

Virgin Australia uses LIH as their main Hawai‘i stopover point for their 737-800 delivery flights.

Outside LIH, it appears Ninini Point Street offers arrival views to both Runways 3/21 and 35/17.


LĀNA‘I
Lāna‘i Airport [LNY/PHNY]
The one spotting location outside LNY, is the bus loading lot fronting the general aviation parking ramp. From the terminal, it may be better to get photos while boarding or exiting your flight. LNY is served by ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, Mokulele Airlines, Kamaka Air, TransAir, and FedEx Feeder.



MOLOKA‘I
Ho‘olehua Airport [MKK/PHMK]
Ho‘olehua Airport is currently has service ‘Ohana by Hawaiian, Mokulele Airlines, Kamaka Air, TransAir. With the open-air boarding, one is able to get photos while walking to (and from) the aircraft.

Neighbor Islands Revised 8 July 2018