Two months ago, with much fanfare, Southwest Airlines started offering flights to Hawaii from Oakland, California. The discount airline started by offering flights to Honolulu in Oahu and Kahului in Maui. It also announced plans to offer service to Lihue on Kauai, and Kona on the Big Island. Southwest Airlines has more destinations in mind. The airline, in a Twitter post, announced it is going to offer flights to a second destination on the Big Island with service to Hilo, though, specifics weren't offered.
Currently, the airline only flies to Honolulu and Kahului from the mainland. However, yesterday, Southwest Airlines started offering inter-island flights to Kona from Honolulu. Thus far, the airline hasn't revealed the launch dates for flights to Lihue or Kauai.
While Southwest Airlines hasn't revealed the exact dates for service to Hilo, it hinted that it will start offering four daily inter-island flights to Hilo sometime in the fall, while flights from the mainland should begin 'sometime before the holidays'.
Those looking to fly to or from Hilo have very few choices. The only direct route between Hilo and the mainland United States is via Los Angeles, which is served by United Airlines. Within the islands, there are only flights to Hilo from Honolulu and Kahului.
While most visitors heading to the Big Island head to the Kona side, which offers a more arid climate and great beaches, Hilo offers plenty. One big advantage to flying to Hilo is that it's near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There are also other outdoor adventures to enjoy on the Hilo side such as waterfalls, hiking and Punaluʻu Beach, which is undeniably one of the most famous black sand beaches in Hawaii.