At first glance, there might not seem to be many options for shipping freight to Hawaii. It’s either the ocean or the air. Hawaii’s isolated geography limits shipping possibilities. However, once you start to explore the Hawaii market, the opportunities start multiplying. Are you going to move in full-container-loads (FCL) or will you choose LCL consolidations? How frequently will you need to ship and replenish your stock? Does your budget allow for hot or premium items to be sent via air freight? To minimize the confusion, we’ve put together some of the most efficient ways to ship to Hawaii. Take a look, and see which approach will work best for your business.


The Different Modes Available to Ship to Hawaii

To start the process of choosing the best way to move your freight, you’ll need to ask your team a few questions. Speed, deadlines, budget. Complete a thorough examination of your needs before deciding on a mode of transportation.

Ocean Freight

For ocean freight to Hawaii, there are two main ways goods move. The first and probably most common is through consolidations. Ocean freight consolidations are precisely that: taking many shipments and consolidating them down to one full-container-load. The reason so many shippers use ocean freight consolidations is they allow for smaller loads to move at a lower fee. A 3PL or freight forwarder combines these small shipments to maximize the space on a 40′ or 45′ ocean container. Meaning, a shipper who only has 1 or 2 pallets of product moving per week, can ship to Hawaii consistently without paying exorbitant fees or minimum charges.

Our pricing team has a slew of questions they run through each time a new piece of business comes across their desks. Understanding the full scope of work helps them develop custom rates for each client. Knowing your measurements, your freight class, and what you are currently paying will help you get the best deal every time.

Consolidations vs. Full Container Loads

Full-container-loads are another great way to ship to Hawaii. When a company has a large quantity of products running each week, securing full-container-load rates from origin to destination will be one of the most efficient approaches. By committing your company’s volume to a single provider, you’ll gain access to competitive rates. Whether it moves through a freight forwarder or direct with a steamship line, your container loads move at a reduced cost.

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In the short term, you may lose out on the benefits of consolidations (storage and inventory control, more extended phase planning, and only shipping when you need to most) but if your volume is significant enough, your company may reap benefits. There are many variables with shipping via ocean, and it is a best practice to ask your provider for suggestions and input to choose your optimal solution.

Air Freight

Do you need your shipments to arrive fast? Have plenty of room in your budget for transport costs? Perhaps you only need a few loads each month to move via air freight?

Air freight can be a tricky venture for inexperienced supply chain professionals. Even the most skilled pros find it challenging to balance air freight in their budget. If you are considering air freight to ship to Hawaii, there are a few things you need to know. First, we find consolidations to be the key to a successful air freight strategy. By minimizing the footprint and weight of your cargo, you’ll spend less, and your “must-have” goods will move more quickly.


Next, you’ll want to know which shipments need to move air freight. This point seems simple, but we often find shippers wishing for fast service on products, which don’t need it. Take your time in developing a plan and make sure you’ll be able to recoup the cost on the other end. You’ll need to build the price into your sell point. Last, partnering with a freight forwarder who has experience in the world of Air Freight is a must-have. Feeling confident that your provider knows what they are doing, will give you peace of mind and more time to focus on the rest of your supply chain.


Our Pick for the Most Consistently Efficient Way to Ship to Hawaii

We find that a majority of companies see the most significant value with ocean freight consolidations. There are many factors which you should consider when choosing a transportation solution and not every supply chain is the same. With that said, using a 3PL experienced in freight forwarding will help reduce your overall costs. If they have volume, they can efficiently work your goods into the mix, secure containers for your transport, and perform drayage to and from the port. When shipping to Hawaii having an asset-based 3PL will go a long way in simplifying your supply network. With trucks and staff on the major islands, you’ll be treated better, and with more care.

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