How Expensive Is It To Ship A Vehicle To Hawaii?

Shipping a car from Hawaii to California may seem like a logistical puzzle, considering the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean that separates these two beautiful states. But if you’re considering relocating or simply need your vehicle transported between these two coastal paradises, fear not – we’ve got you covered.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details and explore the costs and logistics of shipping your cherished automobile from the aloha spirit of Hawaii to the sunny shores of California. Buckle up; we’re about to embark on an informative journey.

The Aloha State to the Golden State – A Unique Challenge

Shipping a car from Hawaii to California is not your typical cross-country road trip. It involves a combination of ocean and land transport, making it a unique and often costlier endeavor. Your vehicle’s journey will consist of three primary stages:

Pickup and Delivery: The process begins with getting your vehicle to the port in Hawaii and ensuring its safe delivery to the port in California.

Ocean Freight: The heart of the operation lies in the vast Pacific Ocean. Your car will be loaded onto a ship, and you can choose between two options: container shipping or roll-on/roll-off (RoRo).

Land Transportation: Once your vehicle arrives in California, it needs to reach its final destination. You can either pick it up at the port or opt for further transport to your doorstep.

Factors Influencing the Cost

Several factors play a crucial role in determining the cost of shipping a car from Hawaii to California. Let’s explore these elements in detail:

Distance: The physical distance between Hawaii and California is a major cost driver. The longer the journey, the higher the cost.

Vehicle Type: The size and weight of your vehicle matter. Larger and heavier cars may cost more to ship.

Shipping Method: Choosing between container shipping and RoRo will affect the price. RoRo tends to be more budget-friendly, but containers offer added protection.

Season: Just like airfare, car shipping prices can vary depending on the time of year. High-demand seasons, like summer, often come with higher costs.

Pickup and Delivery Locations: The accessibility and distance from the ports in both Hawaii and California can influence the price.

Additional Services: If you require extra services, such as door-to-door delivery or expedited shipping, be prepared for additional charges.

Insurance: It’s essential to consider insurance coverage for your vehicle during the shipping process. While this isn’t a direct shipping cost, it’s a necessary expense for peace of mind.

Calculating the Cost

To give you a ballpark figure, the cost of shipping a standard sedan from Hawaii to California can range from $1,000 to $1,500. However, keep in mind that this is a general estimate, and the actual price may vary based on the factors mentioned above.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of these costs:

Pickup and Delivery: This may cost around $100 to $400 on each side, depending on the locations and services needed.

Ocean Freight: For RoRo shipping, you might pay between $800 to $1,200. Container shipping can be a bit more expensive, typically ranging from $1,200 to $2,500.

Land Transportation: If you opt for further transport beyond the port, it can add anywhere from $100 to $500 or more to the bill.

Insurance: The cost of insurance can vary but typically falls between 1% to 3% of the vehicle’s value.

Saving on Shipping Costs

While the cost of shipping a car from Hawaii to California can be significant, there are strategies to help you save some hard-earned cash:

Plan Ahead: Booking your shipping well in advance can help you secure lower rates, especially during the off-peak season.

Flexible Pickup and Delivery: If you’re willing to drop off and pick up your vehicle at the ports, you can cut down on costs.

Compare Quotes: Don’t settle for the first quote you receive. Shop around, compare different companies, and their services, and choose the one that suits your budget.

Consider Terminal-to-Terminal Shipping: Opting for terminal-to-terminal service can be more cost-effective than door-to-door delivery.

Check for Discounts: Some shipping companies offer discounts for military personnel, students, or multiple vehicle shipments. It’s worth exploring these options.

Uncommon Terminology Unveiled

In the world of car shipping, you might come across some uncommon terminology. Let’s demystify a few of these terms:

RoRo: This stands for “Roll-on/Roll-off,” a method of shipping where vehicles are driven onto the ship and secured for transport.

Container Shipping: In this method, vehicles are placed inside containers for protection during the voyage.

Port of Entry: This refers to the specific port where your vehicle enters or exits a country.

Terminal-to-Terminal: This option involves dropping off and picking up your vehicle at designated terminals, typically located near the ports.

Open Carrier: A type of car carrier that transports vehicles in an open-air environment.

Closed Carrier: These carriers are enclosed and offer more protection for your vehicle during transport.

Comparing Hawaii to California – Beyond the Cost

Now that we’ve discussed the costs, let’s explore some other essential aspects to consider when shipping your car between Hawaii and California:

Time and Convenience

Shipping a car across the ocean takes time. You need to account for the time it takes for your vehicle to reach the destination. It’s not as simple as driving your car to your new home. Plan accordingly, especially if you need your vehicle at your destination promptly.

Vehicle Condition

Before shipping your car, it’s a good idea to clean and inspect it thoroughly. Document any existing damage and take photographs. This will help in case of any disputes regarding the condition of your vehicle upon delivery.

Safety and Regulations

Both Hawaii and California have specific safety and emissions regulations for vehicles. Ensure your car complies with the regulations of your destination state. You may need to make modifications or adjustments to meet these requirements.

Shipping Companies

Choosing the right shipping company is crucial. Look for experienced, reputable companies with a track record of safe and reliable service. Check online reviews and ask for recommendations to make an informed decision.


Don’t underestimate the importance of insurance. Accidents can happen during transport, and having adequate coverage will provide peace of mind. Verify the insurance coverage provided by the shipping company and consider additional coverage if necessary.


Prepare your vehicle for shipping by removing personal items and ensuring that it’s in good working condition. Empty the gas tank to a quarter full to reduce weight, and secure any loose parts or accessories.

The Final Leg of the Journey

Once your vehicle arrives at the port in California, you’ll need to decide on the final leg of its journey. Here are a couple of options to consider:

Port Pickup

If you choose port pickup, you’ll be responsible for collecting your vehicle at the destination port. This is often the most cost-effective option, but it may require more effort on your part.

Door-to-Door Delivery

Opting for door-to-door delivery means your car will be delivered directly to your new address. While this option offers convenience, it comes at a higher cost.


Shipping a car from Hawaii to California is a unique and often expensive endeavor. The cost can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type of vehicle, the shipping method, and the season. However, with careful planning, research, and consideration of the factors mentioned, you can make the process more manageable and cost-effective.

So, if you’re preparing for a cross-Pacific move or need to transport your vehicle between these stunning states, understanding the costs and logistics involved is the first step towards a smooth and successful journey. Shipping your vehicle may not come cheap, but the convenience and peace of mind it offers can be well worth the investment.

Remember, the key to a successful car shipping experience is preparation and choosing the right shipping company. So, get ready to say “aloha” to Hawaii and “hello” to California with your beloved vehicle by your side. Safe travels!

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