Remember when people would get dressed up to fly? Not only the passengers, but in the case of our family living on Oahu in the 60s, we dressed up to pick up anyone coming to visit. That’s me in red tights, when my great-grandfather, Floyd Bohnett, flew in from Santa Barbara after losing his wife of 50 years. Then as now, Hawaii is a place to restore, revive and just chill.
Speaking of restore, when tourism came to a screeching halt during the pandemic, locals had the islands to themselves — some preferred it that way. Some left the islands and some legislative changes to the popular attractions means that Diamond Head State Park is now closed on Wednesdays. We mention this as a heads up, that it is taking a while for restaurants to staff up, and that some state parks have new hours now to preserve resources. In other words, best to also pack your patience and flexibility.
Having just visited Waikiki and Maui for a quick trip with my colleague Nikki Wood, I wanted to share the dos and don’ts to ensure your experience is chill not shrill — we will be updating this post as rules change.
Is it worth booking now with all these testing hoops to jump through? We say, “yes,” and will be updating this post as laws change, but here are our tips for booking your next flight.
Inter-island travel with a vaccine card = no test required.
Starting May 11, individuals fully vaccinated in the State of Hawaii may travel inter-county without pre-travel testing/quarantine starting the 15th day after the completion of their vaccination. A CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card with name, birthdate, type of vaccine, dates vaccine was administered, and lot numbers for each vaccine dose will be required.
Photo Credit: Hawaii Islander
Get the right test for your airlines
Here is the state of Hawaii’s approved travel partner list. We learned this the hard way last week at SFO when one of us showed up with a non-approved test. Luckily, there is an approved rapid test in the International Terminal which cost $150. However, it’s not a sure thing because they will not hold the plane if there’s a line.
Test info for the most popular airlines headed to Hawaii:
It’s important to note that the test must be taken 72 hours prior to departure and negative results must be in hand prior to boarding. Also be sure to upload the results to the Travel Safe Hawaii website, and follow the instructions until you get a QR code. Have your flight info and hotel/condo info handy to make this process go smoothly. Print out your results — it’s just good to have.
Different Rules on the Neighbor Islands
These rules change often, please click on links provided if you have questions.
Hawaii Island (Big Island): County of Hawaii website
Twenty five percent of visitors, chosen at random, will be tested upon arrival. The test is free and results will be available in 15-20 minutes.
Kauai: County of Kauai website
As of April, Kauai has rejoined the pre-test travel program. You can now avoid quarantine in Kauai by providing proof of a negative test before you board a flight to Hawaii.
Maui: County of Maui website
Fully vaccinated travelers who are 14 days post last shot do NOT have to take the 2nd test. A hard copy of the CDC vaccination card must be presented.
Otherwise, visitors coming from another island will be required to take a second Covid-19 test on arrival at the airport. The test is free and you are free to leave the airport afterwards — you will be contacted later with the test results.
Visitors are also required to download the contact tracing app, AlohaSafe, before arrival.
Inter-county passengers arriving on Oahu do not need to create a Safe Travels profile and do not need to take a pre-travel Covid-19 test.