As the main gateway to the “Garden Isle,” passing through the Lihue Airport is almost always a requirement when taking a trip to Kauai. Located about a mile and a half east of the town of Lihue, this laid-back, partially open-air airport occupies 943 acres with two runways, one terminal, and only 10 gates. The airport is generally well known for being very easy to navigate and visitor-friendly. Although it isn’t as flashy or massive as other commercial airports, Lihue Airport offers all the essentials whether you’re flying international, domestic, or inter-island.
Lihue Airport Code, Location, and Flight Information
Know Before You Go
Currently, Lihue Airport only services six airlines; Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, WestJet, and of course, Hawaiian Airlines.
The single terminal, dubbed “The Kawakami Terminal” after the late speaker of the House of Representatives Richard A. Kawakami, houses the ticketing and check-in counters for all airlines at the ground level.
Landing at Lihue, you’ll arrive at the ground level of the terminal, and signs will lead you towards the baggage claim, exits, and visitor information areas. If you’re picking up an arriving passenger, it is possible to either park in the public parking lot and walk into the baggage claim area to greet them or wait in the cell phone waiting lot until they get outside with their luggage. There is a one-way loop road that branches off Ahukini Road serving the terminal that encircles the public parking lot.
Drivers can access the airport by Ahukini Road from Kapule Highway.
It is important to note that all baggage coming to and from Hawaii is subject to agricultural inspection due to laws preventing the spread of non-indigenous plants, insects, animals, or diseases. Basically, be prepared to put your baggage through extra inspection stations and report any agricultural items (including any fruits or plants). Usually, this means running your bags through additional X-rays on the way to the gates, which rarely takes longer than a couple of minutes. Traveling with pets to and from Hawaii is much more complex than other states for the same reasons, so be sure to research ahead of time.
There is one lounge available to travelers at Lihue Airport, the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Lounge near gate five.
Lihue Airport Parking
Drivers can enter the Lihue Airport parking lot from the Mokulele Loop. Automatic ticket dispensers will issue tickets at the entrance, and there will be a cashier kiosk to take payment once you exit. Accessible parking spots are located near the crosswalks. Inside the parking lot, there is one electric vehicle charging station with room for two cars, available for use at a rate of $7 for 24 hours. Electric vehicles with an electric vehicle license plate are not required to pay parking fees. Parking is free for 15 minutes, $1 for the first half hour, $2 for each hour after that, and $15 for 24 hours.
Monthly parking is available for $160 per month.
The cell phone waiting area is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is free for up to one hour on a first-come, first-served basis. The cell phone lot is located curbside along Ho`olimalima Place next to the car rentals, and it will take just a few minutes to drive to the airport from there. Vehicles must be attended at all times.
No matter where on the island you’re coming from, you’ll need to head to Ahukini Road in order to get into the airport. From the main town of Lihue, travel east on Ahukini towards the coast. From Wailua, take Kuhio Highway South and stay left at the junction with Kapule Highway before making another left onto Ahukini Road. From Poipu on the south shore, head north on Poipu Road, turn left on Koloa Road, right on Kaumualii Highway and then right on Ahukini Road.
Public Transportation and Taxis
Public bus (the Kauai Bus) lines 100 and 200 will take you to the Lihue Airport, depending on which direction you’re coming from. The airport is also accessible by car, shuttle, or taxi. The Marriott Hotel and the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort both offer free hotel shuttle services to or from the airport. For arrivals, taxis can be found outside of the terminal curbside or called using one of the airport’s taxi phones. While there are ride-sharing companies available on Kauai, there are very few drivers.
Wait times will undoubtedly be high if you try to travel by Uber or Lyft.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are five options for dining at Lihue Airport. For a quick snack or coffee to go, stop by the HMS Food Kiosk near gate four (hours depend on flight schedules) or the Starbucks outside gate seven (open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.).
If you have a little more time and want to sit down to eat, head to Stinger Ray’s for a tropical tiki bar near gate six (open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.). In the center of the terminal, Ai Ono Cafe offers hot dishes, sandwiches, and burgers daily from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. If you’re flying late and want to grab a drink, Mea Inu Bar and Grill is open until 10 p.m. with Hawaiian beers and local favorites.
Where to Shop
There are three shops to choose from at LIH. All located at the center of the terminal, Island Marketplace is great for grabbing last-minute souvenirs, while Lihue Airport News Stand and Tiare Flower Shop offer reading material and smaller snacks like candy or chips.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
There are no Wi-Fi services or official charging stations available to travelers at Lihue Airport. There are, however, public telephones in between each gate.
Lihue Airport Tips & Facts
- The closest beach to the Lihue Airport is Hanamaulu Beach Park on the Hanamaulu Bay. Just north of Hanamaulu is Nukoli’i Beach, a great spot for snorkeling when the ocean conditions are calm.
- The Lihue Airport is almost all open-air, a unique trait only possible in warm-weather states, such as Hawaii.
- Utilize the Visitor Information Center at the entrance of the baggage claim area, open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Look for staff dressed in blue behind the booths or walking around the terminal for information about the island, or call 808-241-3919 or 808-241-3917.
- One of the best waterfalls on the island is just a 15-minute drive from the airport, so it’s a great first stop after landing. Head southeast on Ahukini Road towards the town of Lihue before taking Kuhio Highway north to Maalo Road until you get to the parking lot for Wailua Falls.
- If you have some extra time before dropping off your rental car, stop by Ahukini Recreational Pier State Park less than two miles from the airport. There is a beautiful view of the eastern shore from there.