Where To Sit On Hawaii Flights To Get The Best Views

Who doesn’t love a glimpse of the islands when flying either from the mainland (or is it continent), or when flying between islands? We surely don’t ever get sick of these world-class views. So where should you sit on the airplane to get the best look? Here’s our best advice.

If you plan to video the approach or take photographs, always opt for a window seat. You’ll see breathtaking views of Hawaii’s natural beauty as the islands come into view. Depending on the weather, you may be in for some unobstructed views of the coastline, mountains, and possibly even our beloved volcanoes.

First, a caveat. The approach and landing may sometimes change based on wind and other conditions in effect. Below is what happens more often than not, based on our experience. We’d love to hear from you about your suggestions on where to sit too! Mahalo.

The best views on flights to Honolulu.

In most cases, you’ll have great but different views no matter which side of the plane you sit on. When flying from the mainland in particular, you will, under some conditions, fly along the coastline before making a sharp right turn for the final approach. So there are two schools of thought here.

First, if you are seated on the left side, you may be in for early arrival treats that can include the Big Island about one-half hour before landing, followed by Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. But then again, that may not always happen, as in the photo above. In any event, once you make the final right turn on the approach, you are likely to be treated to spectacular views of Pearl Harbor and the mountains beyond, just prior to landing at HNL. If you choose to sit on the right side of the plane, you may not see other islands, depending on the approach. But you will fly over the coastline with glimpses of Diamond Head up to the airport. Once the plane turns, you’ll have limited views, mostly just over the water.

On yesterday’s Delta Airlines flight from Minneapolis to Honolulu above, passengers on both sides of the aircraft were treated to a myriad of spectacular views. The left side had earlier and later views both of other islands and of Pearl Harbor. But you couldn’t go wrong on this flight.

Best views on flights to Maui.

We choose seats on the left side of the plane when flying to Maui from the mainland since, most often, flights approach Maui from the northwest, affording left-side passengers better views of the island and its coastline. As you come over the island, you’ll likely have great views from both sides. Before that, you may get a glimpse of the Big Island, the Hana coastline, or the west Maui mountains.

On United’s flight to Maui from LAX today above, visitors on both sides of the aircraft had great viewing opportunities.

Best views on flights to Kauai.

When flying to Kauai, we always prefer to be seated on the left side. You may be treated to views of Oahu or the other islands prior to reaching the northmost island of Kauai on either side of the aircraft. As you make the final approach, you will be pointing toward Ha`upu Mountain alongside Nawiliwili Harbor. To your left in the distance, you’ll see Poipu Beach and the west side of Kauai, and as you make a final right turn to land, you’ll have great views of Lihue, Kapaa, and the surrounding areas.

On today’s Hawaiian Airlines flight from LAX to Kauai, it was left side all the way. Those passengers may have had views of all the islands prior to the final approach right turn, depending on cloud cover. Remember that the Big Island might have been in view some 40 or so minutes prior to landing, so be sure to open the window shade if you want to have a look.

Best views on flights to the Big Island.

Flights to the Big Island tend to most often fly down the coastline. In that event, being on the left side will afford you great views of the island, while on the right side, the view is typically just the ocean. The landing on the runway, which appears to just be a continuation of the black lava, is dramatic, however, no matter which side of the plane you are seated on.

On today’s Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Kona, passengers on both sides of the plane were in for different visual treats. On the right side, they should have seen Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and perhaps even Oahu in the distance. Those on the left side may have seen the coastline and the Big Island town of Waimea, plus Mauna Kea.

Flight path images courtesy of Flightaware.

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2 thoughts on “Where To Sit On Hawaii Flights To Get The Best Views”

  1. When we have flown to OGG, we prefer to sit on the right side as the approach path typically takes you from east to west over the island then turn into the final approach pattern over Maalaea Bay which makes for a spectacular view

  2. Pretty much always the left but as you mentioned it depends on the wind.
    and the video you posted landing Kauai… looks just like one I have. Go figure. 😉

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