HNL Airport


Uncovering hidden gems at your first stop in Honolulu.

My final destination is Honolulu International Airport or what is currently renamed after the late and great senator of Hawai'i, Daniel K. Inouye. Opened in 1927 with continued expansions throughout, its mix of local touches and mid-century architecture make this airport a unique experience to revisit, no matter how many times I’ve been back. Welcome to Honolulu.


One of the first things I look forward to when stepping off the plane in Honolulu is their warm and sweet natural air. The thick trade wind breeze carries the scent of sweet flower leis wafting in the air. It gently overwhelms my senses and kick starts my journey into paradise. The next time you step off that plane and onto their open air walkways, take a moment and breathe.

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As I make my way towards baggage claim, I spot local artwork and mid-century modern designs integrated throughout the airport.  My all-time favorite local artist, Pegge Hopper, has a painting on display that beautifully depicts that laid-back attitude I hope to achieve on my trip.

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To my delight, the grounds of the airport are landscaped with three cultural gardens across the main terminal for all to enjoy.  Built in 1962 by Hawaii’s renowned landscaper, Richard C. Tongg, the gardens display the influence of Chinese, Hawaiian and Japanese cultures to Hawai'i.  In 1995, C.B. Lansing garden was constructed in the Interisland terminal in honor of the chief Aloha Airlines flight attendant who died in the line of duty on April 28, 1988.


Before you leave the premises, make sure to stop by the lei stands located across the main airport terminal.  Even though I'm originally from Hawai'i, I make it a point to treat myself to a lei whenever I come back.  It is the best way to refresh yourself after a long flight and it's worth every penny.  Built in 1980, these small open-air lei stands display the names of each designated business and is laid out to conveniently pull up, park and pick out a lei wiki wiki! 


Before and After image of Martha's lei stand at the Honolulu Airport.