Hawaii Memorial Day Travel Rush

when is hawaii traveling congested for memorial day

Planning a trip to Hawaii for Memorial Day? You're not alone. Memorial Day weekend is a popular time to visit the islands, especially the island of Oahu, Hawaii's most populous island. In fact, AAA projects Honolulu will see a jump in visitors flying to the island. So, when is Hawaii travel most congested for Memorial Day? Well, it depends on a few factors, including your mode of transportation and destination within Hawaii. If you're flying, you can expect busy airports and increased air travel, with a projected 3.5 million people travelling by plane. As for roads, both in Hawaii and across the country, you can bet on congestion, especially around big cities and popular destinations. The Thursday before Memorial Day weekend is typically the most congested day, followed by Friday. The least congested days are usually Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. So, if you're hitting the road, aim to travel before 6 or 7 in the morning or after 9 p.m. to avoid the worst traffic.

Characteristics Values
Date of Memorial Day 30 May 2024
Number of Americans travelling 43.8 million
Number of travellers by car 38.4 million
Number of travellers by plane 3.5 million
Percentage increase in travellers compared to 2023 4%
Least congested days Saturday, Sunday, and Monday
Best time to travel Before 6 or 7 am, after 9 pm
Worst time to travel Between 1 pm and 9 pm


Honolulu is always a popular destination for travellers, especially during holiday weekends. This Memorial Day weekend, the Hawaiian capital is expected to see a jump in visitors, with many opting to fly to the island.

Oahu, Hawaii's most populous island, is a favourite among tourists due to its diverse range of attractions. From learning to surf off Waikiki Beach to exploring the historic 'Iolani Palace, there's something for everyone. Not to mention the delicious kalua pork served at an authentic luau and the opportunity to witness history firsthand at Pearl Harbor.

With a record-breaking number of Americans expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend, it's essential to plan ahead to avoid getting caught in traffic. According to experts, the majority of travel during this holiday weekend is done by car, with up to eight times more people choosing to drive compared to flying or other travel types.

To make the most of your long weekend in Honolulu, consider the following tips:

  • Book and reserve excursions in advance, especially luaus and the famous Diamond Head hike, as they tend to fill up quickly.
  • Be prepared for traffic delays, especially if you're driving. Try to schedule your routes around congested times, typically between noon and 6 pm.
  • If possible, avoid travelling by car on Friday, as it is expected to be the busiest travel day of the weekend. Thursday and Saturday are better options, but aim to leave before 11 am or after 7 pm to miss the worst traffic.
  • For a more relaxed journey, consider travelling by air. While airports will also experience high spikes in travel, flying can help you bypass congested roads.


There are many attractions for tourists on Oahu, Hawaiʻi's most populous island

Oahu is Hawaiʻi's most populous island, and for good reason. As the historic Gathering Place, it is home to Honolulu, the capital of the State of Hawaii and the former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Here are some of the many attractions that make Oahu a popular destination for tourists:

Historical and Cultural Sites

Oahu is rich in history and culture, with many sites showcasing the island's past. Downtown Honolulu is filled with monuments and landmarks that tell the story of Hawaii. Here are some places to visit:

  • Iolani Palace: The only royal palace on U.S. soil, Iolani Palace was built by King Kalakaua in 1882 and is a must-see for those interested in history and architecture.
  • Pearl Harbor: This world-famous naval base attracts over a million visitors annually. It is a National Historic Landmark and home to museums and memorials honouring those who served in World War II.
  • Battleship USS Missouri: Also known as the "Mighty Mo", this battleship is where the treaty ending World War II was signed. Visitors can walk the Surrender Deck and learn about its rich history.
  • Polynesian Cultural Center: Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of the Pacific Islands. Explore six island villages, enjoy authentic cuisine, and experience the rich traditions of Hawaii and other Polynesian islands.
  • Byodo-In Temple: This non-denominational Japanese shrine commemorates the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. Tucked away at the base of the Koolau Mountains, it offers a peaceful and serene experience.

Outdoor Adventures and Nature

Oahu also offers a plethora of outdoor adventures and natural wonders:

  • Waikiki Beach: One of the top tourist destinations in the world, Waikiki has something for everyone, from surfing to shopping and dining.
  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: A gorgeous, wineglass-shaped bay with excellent snorkelling opportunities.
  • Waimea Valley: A stunning botanical garden with a 45-foot waterfall. It's a great place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of Honolulu.
  • Manoa Falls Trail: An easy, family-friendly hike through a lush rainforest that leads to a 150-foot waterfall.
  • Kualoa Ranch: A private nature reserve offering ATV, horseback, and e-bike tours. It's also a popular filming location for movies and TV shows.
  • Kailua Beach: Rated as one of the best beaches in the world, Kailua Beach offers a peaceful escape from the city. From here, you can kayak to the Mokulua Islands, a seabird sanctuary.
  • Diamond Head State Monument: One of the most iconic landmarks in Hawaii, offering breathtaking views of Waikiki and the surrounding area.
  • Nuuanu Pali Lookout: Enjoy stunning views of Oahu's Koolau Mountain Range, Kailua town, and Kaneohe Bay from this lookout. It's also a site of historical significance, marking a decisive military victory for King Kamehameha I.

Arts and Entertainment

For those interested in arts and entertainment, Oahu has a thriving cultural scene:

  • Honolulu Museum of Art: Showcasing over 60,000 pieces of art, including cultural works from Hawaiian artists.
  • Bishop Museum: Widely considered the premier museum for natural and cultural history in Hawaii. Learn about Polynesian migration, life during the Hawaiian monarchy, and more.
  • Waikiki Aquarium: Focused on marine life and Hawaii's natural ecosystems, this aquarium is a great place to learn about the local marine life you might encounter while swimming or snorkelling.
  • Honolulu Zoo: Located adjacent to Queen Kapiolani Park, the Honolulu Zoo features animals from all over the world, including African elephants, giraffes, and lions.

Whether you're looking for historical sites, outdoor adventures, or cultural experiences, Oahu has something for everyone. These are just a few of the many attractions that make Oahu a popular destination for tourists.


There will be traffic delays on roads like Ward Avenue, Kapiʻolani Boulevard, and South King Street

If you're travelling to Hawaii for Memorial Day, it's worth noting that there will be traffic delays on roads like Ward Avenue, Kapiʻolani Boulevard, and South King Street. This is due to multiple traffic advisories and operation restrictions implemented for the City and County of Honolulu. The Honolulu Marathon is also expected to cause some delays, particularly for those travelling to Waikiki.

To avoid getting stuck in traffic, it's recommended that you plan your route in advance and account for extra travel time. According to transportation analyst Bob Pishue, travel times across the country are expected to rise by about 50% compared to normal. So, if a trip usually takes you two hours, it's best to budget three hours instead.

In general, the worst days for travel during Memorial Day weekend are Thursday and Friday, with the least congested days being Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The worst time to be on the roads is between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m., while the best times to travel are before 6 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

To make the most of your Memorial Day trip to Hawaii, consider booking and reserving excursions in advance, especially for popular activities like luaus and hiking trails. And remember to keep yourself updated with the latest traffic advisories and restrictions.


Memorial Day weekend 2024 saw a record-breaking number of travellers, with 43.8 million Americans packing their bags

Memorial Day weekend in 2024 saw a record-breaking number of travellers, with 43.8 million Americans packing their bags and travelling 50 miles or more from home. This number of travellers was a 4% increase from 2023 and came close to matching the record of 44 million Memorial Day travellers in 2005. The American Automobile Association (AAA) and transportation data company Inrix warned of unprecedented congestion on roads and in airports over the weekend.

Indeed, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened a record number of travellers at checkpoints on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, with 2,951,163 passengers breaking the previous record set in 2023. The TSA expected that from Thursday to Sunday, more than 18 million passengers and crew would be screened — a 6.4% increase compared to the same period in 2023.

AAA projected that 38.4 million people would travel by car over the course of the weekend, which would be the largest number recorded for Memorial Day since the group began tracking travel patterns in 2000. Car rental company Hertz reported that demand for rentals would be highest in Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, and Orlando, with most renters scheduled to pick up their cars on Thursday and Friday.

In general, drivers looking to avoid traffic were advised to avoid travelling by car between 12 pm and 6 pm on Thursday, 12 pm and 7 pm on Friday, 2 pm and 5 pm on Saturday, 3 pm and 7 pm on Sunday, and 3 pm and 7 pm on Monday. The best times to drive were before 11 am or after 7 pm on Thursday, before 11 am or after 8 pm on Friday, before 1 pm or after 6 pm on Saturday, before 1 pm on Sunday, and after 7 pm on Monday.

Airports also braced for a spike in travellers, with an estimated 3.51 million people projected to fly over the weekend—an increase from the 3.35 million who flew during the previous year. This would make it the most crowded Memorial Day weekend at airports since 2005, when 3.64 million people flew for the holiday. United Airlines reported that more than 500,000 people were expected to fly each day from Thursday to Tuesday, which would be a record for the airline. Delta and American Airlines also anticipated high numbers of travellers, with 3 million and 3.9 million people expected to fly, respectively.

Public transportation systems were also expected to be congested, with 1.9 million people projected to use metros and other forms of public transit. Major cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington, D.C., were expected to experience higher levels of congestion on their metro systems.

So, if you were planning a trip to Hawaii for Memorial Day weekend, it's safe to say you wouldn't be alone! With Honolulu being a particularly popular destination, it's a good idea to book and reserve excursions in advance to ensure you get to enjoy all the island has to offer.


The worst time to travel by car in America is between noon and 6 pm

Honolulu, Hawaii, is always a popular destination for travellers, especially during holiday weekends. In 2022, AAA projected an increase in visitors flying to the island for Memorial Day weekend. With gas prices reaching an all-time high that year, many travellers opted to forego cross-country road trips in favour of tropical getaways. Oahu, Hawaii's most populous island, offers a range of attractions for tourists, from surfing lessons on Waikiki Beach to tours of the ʻIolani Palace.

To avoid congestion, travellers should be aware of the worst times to be on the road. According to experts, the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend tends to be the most congested day across the country. Friday also sees high levels of traffic, while Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are relatively less busy. On the busiest days, the worst time to travel is between noon and 8 pm, with midday travel at or above pre-COVID-19 levels in many areas.

While specific congestion patterns may vary by location and time of year, there are indeed certain time frames that are notoriously bad for travelling by car in America. One of the worst times to hit the road is between noon and 6 pm. This period often coincides with midday travel surges and the beginning of the evening rush hour.

During the workweek, the hours between noon and 6 pm can be extremely busy on the roads. Many commuters are finishing their shifts and heading home, causing an increase in traffic volume. This is especially true in metropolitan areas, where a large portion of the population relies on cars to get to and from work. The combination of midday travellers and afternoon commuters can lead to significant congestion and slower travel times.

Additionally, this time frame can be problematic due to the increased presence of certain types of vehicles on the road. Commercial vehicles, such as delivery trucks and vans, tend to operate during these hours, adding to the number of cars on the roads. School buses and school drop-off/pick-up traffic can also contribute to the congestion, especially in residential areas.

Moreover, the hours between noon and 6 pm are often when people run errands, go to appointments, or engage in leisure activities. This adds to the number of cars on the road and can result in heavier traffic, particularly around shopping centres, schools, and other destinations.

To avoid getting caught in the worst of the congestion, it is advisable to plan trips for earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Starting a journey before 6 or 7 am can help travellers miss the midday rush. Similarly, travelling after 9 pm is often a better option as the roads tend to be clearer, and commuters are off the roads.

By avoiding the noon to 6 pm time slot, drivers can significantly reduce their chances of getting stuck in standstill traffic and can also benefit from shorter travel times overall. This is especially relevant during holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day, when more people are likely to be on the roads.

Frequently asked questions

Hawaii travel is congested for Memorial Day on the Thursday before the long weekend, with the worst time to travel being between noon and 6 pm.

The best time to travel to Hawaii for Memorial Day is before 11 am or after 7 pm on Thursday, and after 8 pm on Friday.

The least congested days to travel to Hawaii for Memorial Day are Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

The majority of people travel to Hawaii by car, however, with gas prices at an all-time high, many travelers are opting to fly to the island instead.

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