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 never 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 in and 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 Allied Universal, the private security firm that also guards HNL. Please be courteous, cooperative and compliant with them.

2) A recent ruling says that amateur photography is legal around public areas of HNL.

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 and drug 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, near the baseball diamond. 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 viewing the eateries, 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 over US$50 between Waikīkī and HNL each way. We are not sure how much ride-sharing services like Über and Lyft charge, please check the apps.

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-designated 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) was moved to the Diamond Head (east) side of the airport near the United Airlines Cargo and Delta Air Lines Cargo facilities. Mokulele Airlines / Southern Airways Express is the sole occupant of buildings. 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 about 90% 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 close to the fence 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. You will need something to stand on to get photos over the fence line.

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

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 southerly / southwesterly winds, known as "Kona Winds". When these winds occur, the traffic is reversed. Landing traffic will make their final approach abeam the world-famous Lēʻahi (or Diamond Head), Waikīkī Beach, and O‘ahu's  south shoreline for Runway 26L. Departing traffic will take-off west-bound from Runway 26R. Runways 22L and 22R is primarily used for general aviation and Cessna Grand Caravan operators, though some commercial and military flights will occasionally be assigned to depart from 22L.

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.

HNL is served by Hawaiian Airlines, Aloha Air Cargo, Mokulele Airlines, Southern Airways Express, Kamaka Air, Trans Air, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, UPS, FedEx, Asia Pacific Airlines, Kalitta Air, Atlas Air (for QantasFreight), Air Canada, WestJet Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, ZipAir Tokyo, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Qantas Airways, JetStar Airlines, Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Philippine Airlines, and Singapore Airlines (for DHL). Amazon Prime Air flights are operated by Atlas Air and Air Transport International. There are also charter flights by Air Transport International, Atlas Air, Omni Air International, and Sun Country Airlines. 

Since the covid pandemic, China Airlines suspended its TPE-HNL service, and has yet to restart it.

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.  The museum is currently closed as, they are in a legal dispute and facing eviction with HDOT-A.

On the south end of JRF, is the Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, which houses the 14th District's aircraft (HC-130Js 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. When RIMPAC is going on, the RON ramp can get quite full.

The Hawai‘i Air National Guard occasionally 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, is located along the departure end of Runways 4L, 4R, and 11, has some areas on the side of the road that are viewable for 4R and 11 departures, and 22L arrivals.

Fixed Base Operator, Million Air, is constructed a fuel farm, and an FBO facility west of the former air museum is under construction.

Kawaihapai Airfield [HDH/PHDH]
Formerly known as Dillingham Airfield, on O‘ahu's northwest side, in Mokulēʻia. Kawaihapai Airfield is the island's primary airport for skydiving, ultralight aircraft, and glider activities. It is also leased from the US Army.

US Military Bases
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam [HIK/PHIK] has no public spotting areas, though arriving and departing traffic can be seen from the same HNL spotting locations. 

Wheeler Army Airfield, located in Wahiawā [HHI/PHHI], in Central Oʻahu, has no spotting areas, and stopping along Kamehameha Highway or the Interstate H2 is not advised.

Marine Corps Air Field Kāne‘ohe Bay [NGF/PHNG] is located on the Mokapu Peninsula, on O‘ahu's Windward coastline between Kāneʻohe and Kailua. The best spotting area outside the base is the He‘eia Kea Boat Harbor, which is on the approach path to NGF's Runway 4. Another option is the roadside lookout on Interstate H3 (eastbound) just after the Kāneʻohe Bay Drive on-ramp, but a long lens is recommended for this location. 

O‘ahu Revised:  20 August 2023


NEIGHBOR ISLANDS
At the present time, this is the best spotting information we have for the Neighbor Island airports. As with HNL, HNL RareBirds™ will not accept any responsibility for any actions (or conduct) taken by individuals while engaging in planespotting and/or photography. Each person is responsible for their own actions while spotting and/or photographing in and 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.

OGG has inter-island service by Hawaiian, Southwest, Aloha Air Cargo, Kamaka Air, Mokulele, FedEx Feeder and TransAir. Mokulele operates out of the Commuter Terminal, and their flights primarily use Runway 5/23.

OGG has TransPacific service by Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United, and Southwest; along with Air Canada and WestJet from up north. UPS Airlines and Amazon Prime Air have cargo flights.

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. The new Pu‘unene Shopping Center runs 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.

In 2016, HDOT-A revised the OGG Master Plan, which would include lengthening and resurfacing Runway 2/20, and building a temporary parallel runway for the duration of the project. However, this has yet to come to fruition.

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

Hāna Airport [HNM/PHHN]
The Hāna Airport, located on the northeast side of Maui, is mainly a general aviation airport, though it does have a few daily flights by Mokulele Airlines.



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 Space Shuttle Challenger accident, is the third busiest airport in Hawai‘i. KOA's Runway 17/35 is the third longest runway (11,000') 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.

KOA has inter-island service by Hawaiian, Southwest, Kamaka, Aloha Air Cargo, and TransAir.

KOA has US mainland service by Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, Southwest, and United; Air Canada and WestJet Airlines from Canada; and a Japan Airlines flight from NRT.

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 Nok Air and Virgin Australia 737 delivery flight stopovers.

Hilo International Airport [ITO/PHTO]
Most of the air traffic at Hilo are inter-island service by Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Aloha Air Cargo. 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.

On occasion, some ferry flights will stop through ITO.

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

Upolu Point (Hawi) [UPP/PHUP]
Located on Hawai‘i Island's northern tip, this is a general aviation airport.


KAUA‘I
Līhuʻe Airport [LIH/PHLI]
LIH is the fourth busiest Hawai‘i airport. Other than from the gates, we do not have much spotting information available for this airport. LIH does have US mainland service by Alaska, American, Hawaiian, Delta, Southwest, and United, though most of the flights arrive in the afternoon. WestJet Airlines provides service from YVR. Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines inter-island flights run throughout the day.

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

Outside LIH, it appears Ninini Point Street offers arrival views to both Runways 3/21 and 35/17. There is a state park on the north end of Runway 17, but we are unsure of the view form there.

Princeville Airport [HI01]
Located near Hanalei, near the Princeville resort, this is a private airport, not part of HDOT. 

Port Allen Airport [PAK/PHPA]
Port Allen Airport, located in near Hānapēpē, is a general aviation airport used by skydiving groups.

Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility Airport [BKH/PHBK]
Located in near Kekaha, this is Kaua‘i's only military airfield owned by the US Navy for as a missile launch test site, and is closed to the public.


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 Lāna‘i Air, Mokulele Airlines, Kamaka Air, TransAir, and FedEx Feeder.


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

Brandt Field Airport [18HI]
Brandt Field is a small private airport on the east of northeast end Moloka‘i, not part of HDOT.

Kalaupapa Airport [LUP/PHLU]
Kalaupapa is served by Mokulele Airlines and Kamaka Air, but are restricted to flights servicing the Hansen's Disease patients.

Neighbor Islands Revised: 20 August 2023