Moving to Hawaii – Planning the Move vs. Hiring a Moving Company

When deciding on what your plan of action will be, you should think about whether or not you would like to plan the move yourself, or if you would like to hire a moving company to help out. Regardless of which option you choose, it is recommended that you move with as little as you can, as it will eliminate both higher out-of-pocket expenses and workload.

Planning the Move Yourself

1. Use a Shipping Carrier
2. Use a Freight Forwarder
3. Use a Shipping Cube

Hiring a Moving Company

1. Full-Service Moving Companies
2. Partial-Service Moving Companies

After you have decided on your plan of action, you will want to formulate and follow a packing and moving plan. By following a checklist and being as organized as you can, you can ensure your move to Hawaii will be a relatively stress-free process.

Hawaii, 2,397 miles west-southwest of San Francisco, is a 1,523-mile chain of islets and 8 main islands: Big Island, Kahoolawe, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau

Planning the Move Yourself

If you want to plan the move yourself, you have a couple of options:

1. Use a Shipping Carrier

Using a shipping carrier is recommended. It is the most straightforward approach to moving your belongings to Hawaii and is a popular choice.

When you are ready to choose a shipping carrier, you’ll want to consider what date you need to be in Hawaii, what your budget is, and what you’ll be bringing (size of container and number of vehicles).

Shipping Methods

Not all shipping methods are offered by all shipping companies. Each company charges their own fees and offers different services. You might want to decide on a reliable shipping company first and then work around their services, or you might want to choose a shipping method and then find a reliable company that offers the service.


Hawaii is nicknamed “The Aloha State”

You have a couple of options:

1. Self Delivery (Port to Port). You can pack up all of your belongings and bring them to the shipping port yourself. This usually involves loading up a container at the shipping port. You will then have to pick up your items once they arrive at the Hawaii port and bring them to your new home. This will save you money, but will take more time.

2. Trailer Delivery (Door to Door). You can have a company like Matson drop off a container for you to fill up on your property, and when you’re done filling it up, they will then come pick it up and take it to the shipping port. You can either fill up the container yourself, or hire a moving company to do it for you. The container with your household goods will then be shipped and delivered right to your new Hawaii residence.

3. Combo (Door to Port or Port to Door). Some companies, like Pasha Hawaii, will allow you to fill up containers on your property and then they will pick them up and ship them for you. They move it, and then you pick it up – meaning you will have to pick up your belongings from the shipping port once you’re in Hawaii. This costs a little less than Option #2.

4. Custom Delivery (Company Location to Company Location). Companies like U-Haul have warehouses at several locations on the main Hawaiian islands. They will come pick up your items (or let you drop your stuff off), will ship it, and will have it waiting for you at a warehouse location closest to your new home. This is convenient because you don’t have to deal with the port at all. Some will even store your container if you need them to.

For additional information, please see the helpful tips page for tips on shipping.

Did you know that from East to West Hawaii is the widest state in the United States?


There are several different size containers to pack your belongings in, depending on which company you use. There are small 8 X 5 X 7 containers available all the way up to 40 X 7 X 8.The standard moving container size is 20’. The average three bedroom house should fit in four small containers, or one big 20′ container.

There are many shipping options available, so be sure to inquire about them. If you do not think you will fill an entire container, there are ways to ship less than a full container, or if you would like to ship oversized items, like construction equipment or boats, there are ways to ship those as well. Before you choose a shipping method, or a shipping company, really know what items you have and what you will be shipping.

Note: Please see the helpful tips page for shipping container tips.

Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA)

It can take anywhere from 1 week to 1 month for shipping companies to get your possessions to Hawaii. The time depends on which moving company you choose to go with, where you’re coming from and which island you’re moving to, how much you’re shipping, and what your budget is, so do your research, and find the company and shipping method that works best for you.

Hawaii’s state motto is “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono” – “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”

2. Use a Freight Forwarder

Freight forwarding companies use shipping carriers like Matson to ship goods to Hawaii, but they deal with high-volume shipments, and because of this get discounted rates, allowing you to save some money by choosing to move your belongings with them instead of going directly through the shipping companies.

This is a great way to go if you don’t have enough stuff to fill a shipping container. It is good to know that your belongings will be put into shared containers. These companies will palletize your belongings, measure and weigh them, and then charge you based on those numbers. You’re basically charged for the amount of space your items will take up in a container.

The companies we recommend all offer to move less-than-container loads (LCL) – and most offer full container loads (FCL) too – and all have great ratings from the Better Business Bureau.

The following freight forwarding companies are recommended:

1. Honolulu Freight Service: Honolulu Freight Service offers an extensive range of shipping services from the U.S. Mainland to Hawaii. They specialize in shipping only to Hawaii and have been doing so with a great track record since 1936.

2. Hawaiian Express Service, Inc: Serving Hawaii and Guam since 1935, “Hawaiian Express Service is the largest LCL freight forwarder serving the islands.” They are the leading provider between the mainland U.S., the Hawaiian Islands, and Guam. They ship from any location in the United States. They can take care of all your shipping needs, such as: trucking, cubing, ocean booking, paperwork, container loading, and delivery. They can also handle all your warehousing and storage needs. They offer extras like tracking and advance notice – allowing you some peace of mind. They do not ship vehicles.

3. Dependable Hawaiian Express (DHX): Dependable Hawaiian Express offers a wide range of transportation solutions, including trucking freight, air freight, ocean freight, and more.

4. American Fast Freight: Hawaiian Ocean Transport: For 20 years, Hawaiian Ocean Transport has been moving freight to the Hawaiian Islands. Their transit time is 4-7 days depending on departure and arrival locations.

5. UPS Freight Forwarding: UPS offers to book your cargo, arrange pickup and delivery, and manage shipping documentation, regardless of point of destination or carrier. They can handle almost any size shipment, from less-than-container loads to full container loads, special equipment, and oversized cargo.

You’ll soon be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy having all of your hard work pay off

3. Use a Shipping Cube

If you don’t want to deal with the shipping carriers yourself, and you don’t like the idea of having your belongings shipped with a freight forwarder, you can always choose to use a shipping cube.

Just like containers, shipping cubes are dropped off at your home for easy loading. When you are all done filling them up, the company will come and pick up the cube, and then ship it to Hawaii. When the cube arrives in Hawaii, the company will drop it off at your new Hawaii residence for unloading, and then pick it up when you’re done with it. Some will even store cubes for you until you are ready to unpack them.

Several different companies offer them and they have several favorable features about them, including:

  • They can lock
  • They sit flat on the ground for easy loading
  • They are smaller in size and great if you have less-than-container load (LCL)
  • Some companies that offer cubes also offer packing and loading services

Shipping cubes are slighter more expensive as far as square footage goes, but they are extremely convenient and easy to load.

The following are recommended companies that offer shipping cubes. All of them have received A+ ratings from the Better Business Bureau, however, they have mixed online reviews. We have listed them in order of best customer review to mixed review.

The Hawaiian islands are the tips of the largest mountain range on Earth and were formed from volcanic eruptions

Hiring a Moving Company

Maybe the thought of packing, lifting, and moving every last thing you own is too much for you. I don’t blame you. It’s a lot to deal with. No problem, there’s an easy solution. Hire a moving company to do most of the work for you. This will be the most expensive option, but will also be the easiest way to get this done.

When deciding on a moving company, be sure to research and compare several companies and the different services they offer. Some moving companies will both move and ship your items. Also make sure you ask around, check out customer reviews, and check with the Better Business Bureau before deciding on which moving company you will use. Keep in mind the cheapest way to go is not always the best way to go.

It is important to know that you may (not always) need to use a couple different companies if you want your things packed or moved for you.

For example:

  • 1 moving company for your old residence
  • 1 shipping company
  • 1 moving company for your new Hawaii residence

It is also good to have a guesstimate of the weight and dimensions of your belongings before contacting a moving company. Many of them will need to know that information before they can give you any kind of estimate on what the price will be to move your belongings. You can either make an educated guess, or use something like an inventory calculator. For recommended moving companies, see below.

There are two different kinds of moving companies you can hire, full-service and partial-service.

The Hawaii state nickname is The Aloha State; Aloha translated means welcome, love, affection, peace, and kindness

Full-Service Moving Companies

Full-service moving companies are a Godsend if you opt to use them. They are often the most expensive option, but you have to do little work and planning yourself, which is really nice and makes for an easier move.

Full-service moving companies offer a range of helpful services. You can have them do a lot, or just a little. For example, you can have them pack, move, ship, and unpack for you, or you can have them just move and ship your belongings, and leave the packing and unpacking to you.

Popular full-service moving companies that are familiar with moving belongings from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii and have excellent ratings from the Better Business Bureau include:

1. Akamai Movers (Based on Oahu) – Offers local, inter-island, and mainland moves. Also offers climate-controlled storage service.

2. Aloha International Moving Services (Based on Oahu and Kauai) – Offers local, inter-island, mainland, and international moves. Also offers storage service.

3. HITCO Moving & Storage (Based in Hilo and Kailua-Kona, Big Island) – Offers local, inter-island, mainland, and international moves. Also offers container-hauling service.

4. Island Movers (Based on Oahu and Maui) – Offers local, inter-island, mainland, and international moves. Also offers storage service.

5. Kona Trans Moving & Storage (Based in Hilo & Kailua-Kona on Big Island) – Offers local, inter-island, and mainland moves. Will move fragile antiques and pianos. Other services offered: custom crating, climate-controlled storage, container-hauling.

6. M. Dyer & Sons (Based on Oahu) – Highly recommended. Offers local, inter-island, mainland-to-Hawaii, and international moves. Also offers custom-crating services.

7. Pacific Transfer (Based on Oahu) – Offers local, inter-island (no vehicles), mainland, and international moves. Services all Oahu military bases.

8. Royal Hawaiian Movers (Based on Big Island, Oahu, Maui, Kauai) – Highly recommended. One of Hawaii’s leading moving and storage companies since 1982 and one of the only companies in the world with trucks and warehouses on all four major Hawaiian Islands. Offers local, inter-island, mainland, and international moves, packing and unpacking services, military moves, specialty shipping, storage, and more.

9. Town & Country Moving & Storage (Based on Oahu, Big Island, Maui. Have agents on Molokai and Lana’i.) – Military-approved. Offers local, inter-island, and mainland moves. Also offers storage service.

Please note: recommended moving companies are listed in alphabetical order.

Did you know Hawai’i leads the nation in longevity? — One of only two states with an average life expectancy topping 80 (81.3 years)

Partial-Service Moving Companies

Partial-service moving companies mainly assist with lifting, and loading containers. They are a great option if you need to cut costs but still want some hired help. The following partial-service moving companies are recommended and all have excellent ratings with the Better Business Bureau:

1. Royal Hawaiian Movers (Based on Big Island, Oahu, Maui, Kauai) – Highly recommended. One of Hawaii’s leading moving and storage companies since 1982 and one of the only companies in the world with trucks and warehouses on all four major Hawaiian Islands. Offers local, inter-island, mainland, and international moves, packing and unpacking services, military moves, specialty shipping, storage, and more.

2. Hawaii Piano & Household Moving (Oahu only) – Offers trucking, container transport, and container loading/unloading service. Does not offer packing/unpacking service.

3. Johnny The Mover (Oahu only) – Offers trucking, container transport, container loading/unloading, and box packing/unpacking services.

Please note: The bottom two companies listed only offer services on the island of Oahu.

Additional Resources

Moving to Hawaii: The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Your Belongings
How to Move Your Belongings to Hawaii
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Shipping Your Belongings to Hawaii
Tips for Making the Move to Hawaii as Easy as Possible
Moving Your Belongings to Hawaii: Recommended Shipping Companies
Moving Your Pet to Hawaii – The Complete Guide

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July 5, 2016

Aloha, we are moving to Kauai in a few weeks and we have decided to ship our personal item. Thank you so much for you information and input it has been very helpful.

Moana Britt

July 11, 2016

Aloha Dawn,

I’m happy to hear the guide was helpful to you. Congratulations on making the move to Kauai! Excellent choice, it’s a beautiful island.


July 5, 2016

Aloha, we are moving to Kauai in a few weeks and we have decided to ship our personal item. Thank you so much for you information and input it has been very helpful.

Moana Britt

July 11, 2016

Aloha Dawn,

I’m happy to hear the guide was helpful to you. Congratulations on making the move to Kauai! Excellent choice, it’s a beautiful island.

G Gardner

October 10, 2017

We purchased a house on the Big Island through a poorly run but major real estate company. They weren’t user friendly, but after going through 3 agents, we did end up getting a house. When we moved over we had a horrible experience with the shipper. The car was fine, but the furniture was all damaged in one way or another and boxes crushed. The stoners that dropped stuff off lost some of our stuff, but tried to give us somebody else’s.

During the 3 years we lived in Hawaii we had two near fatal medical experiences. Both should have been nothing serious, but after days of bogus advice got serious. Both PCP and hospital doctors made serious errors but none really didn’t seem to care. In my case it involved an un-needed surgery. Attorneys I contacted said we can’t sue because the whole system is bad. If the standard is that low, and doctors meet that standard, you cannot hold them accountable. So we sold our house, using the same agent who originally got it for us. Big mistake. I had to put the sign up and do half the showings. The two agents were usually either playing golf or out of town. They were around to get paid though! After the guy they hired to take MLS photos was in the house, my laptop (which was molested while he was in my house), never worked again. This time to move we sold everything and shipped only one car. Off to Florida!
We loved Hawaii. The people, the weather, the beaches. That said, bad doctors and lazy realtors eventually ran us off. Nice place to visit, but live there at your own risk. Ask yourself if it’s nice enough to die for.
Florida is very nice too. Still crappy realtors, but good doctors, good weather, nice people, great cheap food, $2.25 gas, no state tax, and lots of beaches.

Good luck

Robert Laurent

November 13, 2017

Planning the move yourself and hiring a moving company both have different kind of strategies to follow up. As you plan to move by yourself you need to find better shipping carriers,good packaging material and also need some helping hand too but in case of moving company you just need to find a good company and remain is their work.http://www.augustamovers.ca/

T A Niles

December 26, 2017

Really glad I found this site and its wealth of valuable info!!

808 Life

January 5, 2018

This list needs to be updated. Many of these moving companies are local only, but you list them as offering mainland services.


October 29, 2018

Great information shared


October 29, 2018

I think hiring the moving company is better because they serve as a guide for you and help to ensure your move will be safe and secured.

Jhia Dennette De los Santos

March 31, 2019

I couldn’t believe why Hawaii Moving Services was not part of Service Moving Companies. So far I’ve heard that they got the PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS as HAWAII’S BEST 2018 by Star Advertiser? I found out that they are incredibly good when it comes to Residential Moving , Commercial Moving , Junk Removal and Storage. They also have a high quality reviews. I would prefer them when it comes to Moving Services. Just check their website if you want https://www.hawaiimovingservices.com/


April 29, 2019

Moving out is such a hassle and time consuming. I find this blog helpful and I have searched various moving services online and I found out that hiring Service Moving Companies was the best move I did. Not only that they offered incredible services, they also have great customer services. I researched them thoroughly and found out that they have been awarded ast HAWAII’s BEST 2018 by Star Advertiser. Some of their services offered are Residential Moving, Commercial Moving, Junk Removal and Storage.


April 30, 2019

Just wanted to throw another option out there for anyone moving from the mainland: A-1 Auto Transport, Inc. I used them two years ago when I moved and I’ve used them a couple times since on a smaller (not whole house) shipping tasks. They seemed to be on the more affordable side compared to some of the others on this list I looked at at the time. Not sure if this is one of those advertorial type of articles to promote the services of the companies included, but A-1 is worth a look for the price conscious folks out there. Two thumbs up.

Francis Buntjer

August 18, 2019

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Rickie Mainor

May 9, 2020

If you like small government you need to work hard at having a strong national defense that is not so militant. Personal liberty is the purpose of government, to protect liberty – not to run your personal life, not to run the economy, and not to pretend that we can tell the world how they ought to live. — Ron Paul


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