Whether the tropical islands of Hawaii are beckoning or you’re being called to the mainland, there are several different options for moving in Hawaii. However, moving works a bit differently on the islands, since there are no roads connecting the eight islands — and definitely no road from Hawaii to the mainland. 

This means you’ll have to navigate your move over the ocean, unless you’re just making a local move on one of the islands. While this may seem daunting at first, there’s no need to fret: there are a number of Hawaii moving services to choose from. 

Still, no matter how you slice it, just as living in Hawaii is expensive, moving can be pricey too. Whether you’re moving to Hawaii, switching islands, or leaving paradise behind for the mainland, you’ll need to adjust your moving budget and approach accordingly. Expect to pay more for your Hawaii move than you normally would for a regular state-to-state move on the mainland. That said, there are still ways to save during your Hawaii moving experience — and we’re here to share some tips on how to do just that. 

What to consider when planning your Hawaii move

You may be tempted to dive right in by searching for Hawaii movers on Google. But it’s best to hold off until you have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Finding the best method for your move will depend on a combination of factors, including the size, distance, budget, location, and timing of the move you’re dealing with. Here are some things to keep in the forefront of your mind while weighing your options:

  • Quantity: How much stuff do you need to move? Less is better when it comes to moving to or from the mainland. 
  • Effort: How much work do you feel like doing on your own? 
  • Timing: How immediately will you need or want your things at your new place? Some shipping options can take up to a month or longer to arrive. 
  • Storage: Will you need or want storage at any point during the move? 
  • Service Preference: Do you want door-to-door service, port-to-port or a combination? (If you’re not sure what these terms mean, see below for a quick explanation.) 
  • Budget: What’s your ideal moving budget? What about your maximum budget?
  • Safety: Are you looking for contactless moving to reduce risks of COVID-19 spread?
Get to know these moving terms specific to Hawaii relocations: 

Door-to-door: This is when your things are picked up right from your old place and delivered to your new place. You won’t have to meet your belongings halfway or pick them up from another location before bringing them to your new home. 

Port-to-port: Port-to-port moves mean you’ll have to take everything you’re moving and load it onto a shipping vessel or into a shipping container located at a port in your area. Then, when your things arrive to or from Hawaii, you’ll have to go to the arrival port to pick them up and bring them to your new home yourself.

Door-to-port or port-to-door: As you might suspect, this is a combination of the above options. You’ll either load-in at a port and have your things delivered right to your door at your new place, or you’ll have them picked up at the home you’re moving from and then pick them up from the port on the other side. 
Hanauma Bay, Hawaii
Hanauma Bay
(Credit: Cosmin Serban via Unsplash)

What are your Hawaii moving options? 

Until they start making cars that can drive on top of the ocean, it’s pretty safe to say that the go-to DIY moving option of renting your own moving truck is off the table this time around (unless you’re doing a local move on the same island). Never fear, a handful of the usual moving services are still up for grabs — as well as a few additional options to add to your consideration. Here’s a look at each option and the pros and cons of how it measures up when it comes to moving in Hawaii. 

  1. Full-service moving companies
  2. Moving container service 
  3. Shipping container service 
  4. Rental trucks 
  5. Hybrid moves that combine any of the above
Hawaii moving service

Full-service movers 

Just like with moves on the mainland, hiring full-service movers will be your most costly option. However, it’s also the most hands-off — a perk that some people may consider worth the added expense. The main things to watch out for when considering the full-service moving option for your Hawaii move is whether or not they handle the move from start to finish. Some companies may subcontract out the overseas shipping or just handle packing and moving your things to the nearest port. When going with a full-service mover, find out exactly what services they can provide and exactly what their quotes cover. 

Pros and cons of hiring full-service movers for your Hawaii move:

PROS

  • Someone else handles the logistics and organizing 
  • No heavy lifting
  • No need to ask friends and family to help
  • With reliable movers, this can be a less stressful experience
  • Option to pay extra for packing and unpacking help  

CONS

  • Usually the most expensive option
  • May need to coordinate with multiple companies 
  • May have a longer ETA if the company groups shipments
  • Storage options may be scarce, expensive, or unavailable
  • Highest-contact option: Movers will be in your home and touching your things
  • Least flexible option for moving date availability or date changes
  • Higher possibility of damage or loss of items, especially for long-distance moves (your belongings are often moved around and combined with other customers’ items during transport)
Hawaii moving with PODS portable container

Moving Container Service: How PODS Works for Hawaii Moves

Depending on the details of your move, using a portable container service like PODS may give you the best overall value, not to mention the greatest flexibility. Most notably, PODS allows folks to move at their own pace and on their own schedule while also offering convenient storage options at different points during the move. PODS containers start with a 30-day rental, with the option of paying for additional months if needed. 

PODS currently has two options available for Hawaii moves:

1. PODS Door-to-Door Service — How it Works 

PODS standard service (door-to-door delivery and pickup) is only available for moving between Oahu and the mainland or for local moves on the island of Oahu. This service works best if you’ve got space — like a driveway, yard, or nearby parking space — where you can store the container overnight. 

Here’s what you can expect with PODS standard door-to-door Hawaii service:

  • A container is delivered to your current address in Oahu or on the U.S. mainland.
  • You load it up with your stuff on your own schedule.
  • PODS picks up your container and either delivers it to your new address or keeps it at their secure storage facility (on Oahu or the mainland) where you’ll have access to your belongings.  
  • When you’re ready, your container is delivered to your new address and you unload it at your own pace.
  • PODS picks up the container once you’re finished unloading and all set.
  • You can take up to 30 days for the moving and storage process or easily extend your rental for a monthly fee.

2. PODS Door-to-Port Service — How It Works 

Not moving in Oahu or between Oahu and the mainland? No problem, you can still use PODS service — as long as you’re heading to either Kauai, Hawaii (a.k.a. The Big Island), Molokai, or Lanai. For these moves, PODS offers a one-way door-to-port service that will pick up your PODS container from your current home on Oahu or the mainland and deliver it to the port on your new island home. 

Here’s what to expect with PODS Hawaii door-to-port service: 

  • A container is delivered to your current address in Oahu or on the mainland.
  • You load it up with your stuff on your own schedule.
  • PODS picks up your container and either delivers it to the port on Kauai, Hawaii, Molokai, or Lanai (or keeps it safe for you at the secure storage facility on Oahu until you request it to be delivered to port). 
  • You pick up your belongings at the port and get them to your new home. 

Pros and cons of using a moving container service for Hawaii relocations:

PROS

  • More affordable than full-service movers and comparable to shipping container services
  • Great flexibility when it comes to scheduling and loading/unloading
  • Option to hire professional help with packing and loading 
  • Your stuff stays in your own container and won’t get mixed up with someone’s else stuff
  • Unlike other door-to-door shipping companies, PODS offers convenient storage options on your property or at a secure PODS storage facility
  • Contactless option for moving during a pandemic
  • Free same-day moving container delivery and pick-ups available (for local Oahu moves only)

CONS

  • Door-to-door service is only available for moves between the mainland and island of Oahu, or local Oahu moves
  • Door-to-port service is only available for one-way moves from Oahu or the mainland (and not available on Maui)
  • Most convenient option requires a driveway, yard, or dedicated parking spot
  • More work may be required than with a full-service mover, unless you hire help with packing and loading

If you’re moving within Oahu, you can get a PODS quote online or by phone. For moves from the mainland or between islands, you’ll need to call their Hawaii Concierge Team (877-665-7637), as there are a few more details to cover. Either way, you’ll also receive a written version of your quote via email. 

Hawaii moving with shipping containers

Hawaii Shipping Container Services

People moving between the mainland and islands can also opt for a shipping container service to relocate between the mainland and Hawaii. While there are several companies that offer this service, the details of what they offer varies widely. This option works a lot like a moving  container service, except the shipping containers are usually larger and there’s no option for storage.

Pros and cons of using a shipping container service for Hawaii moving:

PROS

  • Larger containers mean you can ship more in one container
  • A variety of services are available, such as door-to-door, port-to-port, or door-to-port,  depending on the company

CONS

  • Slow delivery ETAs
  • No options for storage
  • Not always flexible when it comes to scheduling
  • You’ll have to estimate the right size container for your move
  • Sometimes shipping containers don’t have locks
  • You might need a ramp in order to smoothly load and unload your items from the shipping container

Rental Trucks (Local Island Moves Only)

While renting a moving truck may be the norm for DIY moves on the mainland, anyone who already lives in Hawaii knows that sometimes island life creates its own challenges. Since there aren’t any roads connecting the islands, you’ll only be able to use a moving truck rental for local island moves. This usually costs less than other options and offers plenty of flexibility, but it requires the most effort. It can also be the most stressful option since you’ll be handling every part of your move. 

Pros and cons of renting a moving truck for moving in Hawaii:

PROS

  • Usually the cheapest option
  • Flexible moving schedule (based on availability of the rental truck)
  • Easy to price and book online
  • You have complete control over the move

CONS

  • You have complete control over the move
  • You have to do all the work yourself
  • You will likely have to ask friends or family to help
  • You have to do all the driving (and parking!) yourself
  • No storage option available
  • Driving a truck that others have used during a pandemic

Mix and match: Customize your move by combining services

Moving —  especially when it comes to Hawaii — is not one-size-fits-all. Depending on the details of your move, you may want to mix and match when it comes to moving services. For example, if you go with PODS door-to-port service, you may want to go the DIY route and load your PODS container at your own pace at your current house, and then hire full-service movers to help you unload your PODS container at the port and bring your belongings to your new home. Since hybrid moves have a few more details, be prepared to juggle logistics as you create your plan.

Ready to make your move? 

Are you feeling ready to get moving to Hawaii or back to the mainland? Just remember that  there’s often a longer ETA for your things to make it across the ocean. Depending on where you’re moving to or from and what service you choose, it can take anywhere from one week to one month (or longer) before your belongings arrive at your new location — after all, they have to cross over 2,400 miles! All this is to say there’s no time like the present to start diving into the details and discovering which Hawaii moving option is best for you. Your move may take longer, but living in paradise is worth it!


Katherine Alex Beaven is a frequent contributor to the PODS blog who has moved 20+ times because she loves to experience new places.