Your Guide to Shipping to Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the most remote places on Earth, so you may be wondering, what is the best way to ship to Hawaii? What is the cost and how long does shipping to Hawaii take? If you are moving to Hawaii, you may be considering a range of costly options to send your all your beloved treasures to paradise. And if you are already living in the Hawaiian Islands, you may be wondering what the best way is to get things to Hawaii. 

There are really only a few options for getting your items to or from Hawaii: by a ship (freight shipping), through the mail (Fedex, USPS, UPS), or on the plane with you when you fly (check-in luggage). Read on to learn about the different types of shipping to Hawaii and their pros and cons.

Freight Shipping to Hawaii

When you are moving to Hawaii for the first time, you may want to pack up your entire house, including furniture, clothing, tools, and more. If you are moving a lot of bulky items, you might want to ship them across the ocean with a freight shipping company. 

Freight shipping companies are reliable and offer economical and convenient options for packing up your entire house on the U.S. Mainland into a container and moving it in a large vessel across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. Here are the answers to some of the top questions to make moving your items via freight shipping to Hawaii easy.

What are the top recommended freight shipping companies in Hawaii?

Matson: 1-800-462-8766

Matson has been shipping to Hawaii since 1882 and has played a significant role in Hawaii’s economic development, including once having passenger liners and Waikiki hotels for Hawaii tourists. Matson was the first company to bring shipping containers to the Pacific, and today they offer a range of services for almost any shipping needs from the U.S. Mainland or Canada to Hawaii or between the Hawaiian Islands.

Pasha: (808) 523-8625

Pasha Hawaii is one of the main shipping companies in Hawaii. They do not typically ship household items to Hawaii. However, they do ship cars, boats, motorcycles, and large commercial cargo. They have vessels that frequently travel between the U.S. Mainland and Hawaii.

Sause Bros: (808) 521-5082

Sause Bros have been around for 80 years and specialize in shipping large boats and other heavy cargo to the islands. They are a family-owned business with ports in Portland, Long Beach, Richmond, Honolulu, and more.

Young Brothers: (808) 543-9311

Are you moving from Oahu to Maui? If you need to ship between islands, Young Brothers is a popular choice. They have been in the business since 1900 and specialize in shipping vehicles and cargo of all sizes – from a single box to an entire container.

Should I go directly with the freight company or choose a freight forwarding company?

Matson is one of the largest shipping carriers in Hawaii and often works with a number of companies, called freight forwarders, that fill their containers and work with a lot of different customers. These companies often get discounted rates, so someone who is moving might choose to use a freight forwarder instead of directly working with the freight shipping company.

Another pro of using a freight forwarder is that they can often arrange for your items to be put into a shared container if you do have enough stuff to fill the entire container – also known as having a less-than-container load (LCL). To do this, freight forwarders usually put your goods on pallets and then charge you by weight. 

Here are some of the more popular freight forwarding companies in Hawaii that work with the large shipping vessels to move items across the ocean:

Dependable Hawaiian Express: (808) 841-7311

The first freight forwarder to open in Honolulu, DHX has a range of options for moving items, including trucking, large cargo, delivery, storage, tracking, and more. They have good customer service and competitive rates. Hawaii Express Service, formerly the largest freight forwarder in Hawaii, was recently merged to be under DHX.

Honolulu Freight Service: 877-744-7437

Shipping to and from Hawaii for more than 80 years, Honolulu Freight Service is a family-owned company that works with a range of customers with varying needs. They have service between North American and all the Hawaiian Islands and have a full fleet of trucks and warehouses to help with moving and storage. They can also do refrigerated shipping to Hawaii, so if you need to ship a lot of ice cream from the Mainland to Hawaii, you can.

What are the options for freight shipping to Hawaii?

When working with a freight shipping company, they often offer a number of options for shipping. It is important to know what is available for freight shipping to and from Hawaii, so you can make the best choice for your situation:

  • Door to Door: Some companies will use a trailer to drop off the container at your door – wherever it may be in the United States – and then you or your preferred moving company can pack it up with all your belongings. Once the container is filled, the company can pick it up and transport it to the port – possibly by train – and then deliver it to your door at your new Hawaii residence.
  • Port to Port: Pack all your household treasures into a moving truck (or take multiple trips by car) and bring them to the port. At the port, you pack your designated container. When the container arrives in Hawaii, you will need to unload the container at the port, which is in Honolulu on Oahu, and transport your goods to your new Hawaii home. This option is more economical than door-to-door shipping, but it takes more time and effort.
  • Port to Door or Door to Port: Some companies only offer door service on the U.S. Mainland, meaning they will drop the container off at your Mainland home and then bring it to the port. However, once you arrive in Hawaii you will need to unpack the container at the port yourself.
  • Company to Company: Some people choose to use a company like U-Haul or PODS that can move items across the ocean in smaller containers or pods through collaboration with the main freight carrier companies. This option is often easier, as these companies are known for their customer service and can be more flexible. Your household items can be picked up at your house or dropped off at one of their many locations across the United States. Some of these companies can also store the container for you if you have some delays in moving. 

These companies often use smaller containers, called cubes. Shipping cubes are often more expensive than using a freight container directly, but they offer a number of benefits including being able to lock, being smaller, and working with companies that have full moving services like packing and storage.

How long does it take to ship a container to Hawaii?

The time it takes to ship to Hawaii depends on a number of factors, such as the company you choose, your departure location, and the items you are shipping. If you are using freight shipping, it might take anywhere from a week to a month. Since the coronavirus pandemic, freight shipping has slowed down even further to and from Hawaii. 

If you need something immediately, it is recommended to pack it into your check-in luggage or carry-on when you fly to Hawaii. UPS and USPS are also often faster shipping options than freight shipping. Read on to learn more about shipping with UPS or USPS to Hawaii.

How can I pack a shipping container, so it arrives safely in Hawaii?

What is the best way to pack a shipping container? When you start your packing journey, you may be wondering how your items will safely make it across the ocean. Here are the top tips for packing a container for Hawaii:

  • Load big, heavy appliances first, against the far wall of the container.
  • Load heavier items on the floor of the container, continuing to the container opening.
  • Place lighter boxes and goods on top of the heavier items.
  • Make sure everything is tight, so it doesn’t move. Sometimes an empty box, blankets or pillows can help to fill gaps.
  • Packing items in plastic crates is more secure and water resistant. Plastic crates are also easier to carry and stack than boxes.
  • When packing items in the crates, make sure everything is tight with bubble wrap or paper. Items shouldn’t be shaking within the crates.
  • Write on the cartons so you know what is inside.
  • Everything needs to be packed tightly with no space; otherwise all the boxes could fall down when the ship is at sea. If you can’t fill the container, you might need to build a bulkhead or add extra items, like old mattresses or crates, to keep everything in place. Alternatively, you can advertise to see if anyone near you needs to ship something to Hawaii, so they can help you tightly fill your container.
  • Also note that there are certain things that you can’t ship to Hawaii, including some plants, animals, and hazardous or flammable materials. Don’t pack these items in the container, or you could have major problems at the port.

What about shipping a car to Hawaii?

Shipping a car to Hawaii is often a separate charge from shipping household items. Therefore, if you decide to ship your car to Hawaii, you will need to make separate reservations, usually at least two weeks before you decide to ship. Usually cars will be dropped off at the port, and some companies will even pick them up at your home for an additional charge. 

Cars will be shipped across the ocean in auto frames, containers, or in garage stowage on the ship. In order for cars to be successfully shipped, the company will often ask you to have your car completely empty and with a certain level of gas in the tank. The shipping companies will often ask for the original title and registration to ship the car.

What is the cost to ship a car to Hawaii? The cost to ship a car to Hawaii can range from $1,000 to $5,000. Car prices are higher in Hawaii than many other places in the United States, so it might make fiscal sense to ship your car rather than buying a car in Hawaii.

How long does it take to ship a car to Hawaii? Shipping a car to Hawaii could take anywhere from one week if it is shipped from California with certain companies to over one month. You will need to think about what you will do for transportation – whether riding the bus or renting a car – while waiting for your car to arrive in Hawaii from the Mainland.

UPS vs USPS Shipping Hawaii

While most people who are moving a lot of items will decide to go with freight shipping since it is cheaper, if you do not have a lot of stuff or want your items to arrive in Hawaii faster, you might choose to use the mail to ship your items. Also when you are already in Hawaii, you will most frequently use mail ship to send and receive items from around the world.

The cost for shipping to Hawaii via mail will depend on the weight and size of the package and also how you decide to ship it – whether first class, priority, or other methods. Here we weigh the options for shipping with either USPS or UPS to Hawaii.

USPS

  • Usually the most economical option, especially if the package is under 70 pounds.
  • USPS says Hawaii is in their Zone 8, no matter which U.S. state the package originates from.
  • Flat rate box rates apply in Hawaii!
  • Often packages must be dropped off at the local post office to ensure the correct postage is in place; however online stamp options are also available with USPS.

UPS

  • Usually a better option for large, heavy packages.
  • UPS has a weight limit of 150 pounds per package.
  • They have a variety of options, including urgent and express as well as more economical options such as UPS ground.
  • Rates for shipping with UPS to Hawaii are in UPS’ international category, like FedEx.
  • UPS will pick up items at your residence or company and offers extensive online stamp options.

Shipping to Hawaii

Whether using the mail or a large marine vessel, it is possible to move items from around the world to one of the most isolated location on Earth – Hawaii. While shipping to Hawaii is not always the easiest or most seamless task, it is possible through a number of companies and transportation methods.