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Everything You Need to Know About Shipping to Hawaii

It’s smooth sailing when you know what to expect

Air and Truck shipments to Hawaii predominantly fall in the industrial category. Tourism, Military and Agriculture, (Pineapple, Coffee, Macadamia nuts and more) are the key industrial markets. Additionally, Construction and infrastructure developments are omni-present throughout the islands, including a 30-mile rail system currently under development.

So how are these goods efficiently transported from the mainland to the islands?  Building a road between California and Hawaii, while discussed since Hawaii became the fiftieth state to join the U.S. in 1959, isn’t a reality due to the 2,500 mile span between the port in Long Beach to Honolulu. Let’s tag along and follow the freight flow...

Getting your freight on the road to Hawaii

Unless your freights’ point of origin happens to be in Long Beach, CA, shipments bound for Hawaii travel by truck from the pickup location to the port before being loaded at the dock. LTL freight bound for Hawaii arrives at a West Coast facility in Gardena, CA.

There, shipments are:

  • Inspected for damage and completeness
  • Sorted for end point destinations
  • Consolidated if possible to save you money
  • Loaded into containers for ocean travel

Full shipping containers are subject to port authority or customs inspection prior to loading, but it’s possible they could be loaded on the ship without undergoing inspection.

Even though freight crosses international waters on its way to the islands, shipping to Hawaii falls under domestic shipping, so there is no extra paperwork involved like there is with international shipping. As with any domestic shipment, a bill of lading (BOL) is the only document required, as well as any necessary documents if you’re shipping hazardous materials.

One thing you can do to help ensure your shipment arrives intact is to make sure packing lists provide a clear and complete description of the freight contents.

Keeping time in mind when shipping freight to Hawaii

Cargo ships only on designated days from Long Beach to Hawaii. There are two sailings per week, one on Wednesdays, and another on Saturdays. Shipments must arrive for loading into ocean containers Tuesday morning for Wednesday sailings and Friday morning for Saturday sailings as the containers are loaded onto ships the evening prior to setting sail.

Planning ahead will ensure your shipments to Hawaii arrive on time. Consolidation, loading and off-loading a ship, adds days to the door-to-door transit times. Miss a sailing time and days-long delays occur.

All shipments arrive in Honolulu first, including Stop-In-Transit (SIT) shipments that are bound for other islands, such as Maui. Hawaiians understand ocean transit days, and they are aware of when the ships come in. Shipments do not go out for delivery the day ships dock. Containers are loaded high and tight, which adds to unloading time, especially for containers located mid-ship.

Expect deliveries to go out two to three days after arrival in the designated port. Wednesday sailings arrive in Hawaii on Sundays, so shipments typically go out for delivery between Tuesday and Thursday. Saturday sailings arrive on Wednesday, so expect deliveries to begin going out on Fridays. If your shipment’s destination is a neighboring island, this time is extended another two to three days. Each port has experienced agents on site to help deliveries go smoothly.

Final deliveries by truck operate differently in Hawaii than on the mainland. You won’t find 53’ trailers on the roads. Deliveries are typically made by flatbed trailers and smaller trucks. Very few unloading docks are available due to the age of the facilities.

To maximize limited space on any given island and because of high land values, even newer buildings do not have docks. Areas can be difficult for delivery drivers to navigate, so many recipients seek to accommodate deliveries including the use of ramps, designated parking and other means to assist the delivery drivers.

Working with one carrier from port to final delivery has its advantages

Namely, that you have one point of contact, -- that’s one carrier managing the entire process, one to hold accountable and most importantly, a single invoice.

Final delivery, depending on destination, is completed by truck, air or barge as part of single-carrier service, including:

  • Door-to-Door: Pickup to delivery at consignee door
  • Door-to-Port: Pickup to destination port (no delivery)
  • Port-to-Door: Origin port to consignee door (no pickup)
  • Port-to-Port: Ocean service only (no pickup or delivery)

Reddaway experts offer smooth sailing to Hawaii

Reddaway’s operations in Hawaii give you an integrated solution for moving your LCL and FCL freight between key markets using just one carrier from beginning to end. Doing our own consolidation avoids delays and charges incurred with using third-party consolidators. Plus, Reddaway has personnel at the Honolulu port and direct service to the main islands with interline service to Molokai and Lanai.

Talk to a Reddaway expert for smooth sailing to Hawaii.