Table of Contents
- Hawaii Travel Restrictions: How to Travel to Hawaii and What to Expect
- Omicron is Causing a Surge of Cases in Hawai’i
- Can You Travel to Hawaii Right Now?
- Two Travel Options for Domestic Travelers: Vaccine Exemption and Pre-Travel Testing
- Travel Options for International Traveler
- What Are Current COVID Restrictions in Hawaii by Island?
- Things Change — stay up to date
- Maui vs Big Island: Beach Vacation or Adventure (you decide)
- Surf Lessons With Maui Wave Riders Kihei
- The Ultimate Kauai Food Truck Guide 2022 (find the best cheap eats)
Hawaii Travel Restrictions: How to Travel to Hawaii and What to Expect
Updated: January 6th, 2022
Hawaii’s long-awaited pre-travel testing program launched on October 15th, 2020. Since then, there have been a number of changes. Here we’ll keep you up to date on the most current Hawaii travel restrictions as well as what it’s like to visit Hawaii right now. We update this page often, but if you’d like more insights and current updates on exactly what it’s like here right now, our newsletter is for you.
Omicron is Causing a Surge of Cases in Hawai’i
Uncertainty and your vacation are never a good combination.
With the surge of the Omicron variant, Hawaii’s leaders are under pressure to reinstate COVID restrictions. See below for COVID restrictions by island.
As a visitor considering a Hawai’i vacation this winter, Omicron may cause you to reconsider the timing of your trip. Here are some things to consider if you are thinking of visiting during the Omicron surge based on lessons learned from the Delta surge.
- On-island COVID testing may hit capacity. With Delta, international travelers who may require testing to return home experienced delays in getting COVID testing completed as the island’s medical facilities could not keep up with the testing demand.
- Home COVID test kits are difficult to find or sold out
- Hawai’i hospitals continue to face staff shortages. Hawai’i is hoping FEMA approves an urgent request to send 700 supplemental health workers in January.
- Expect new restrictions to be implemented if the surge worsens.
We are starting to see the island mayors implementing new restrictions to fend off the surge.
As with Delta, the state has no interest in another lockdown. They are promoting vaccinations, boosters, and mask-wearing to avoid another shutdown.
Can You Travel to Hawaii Right Now?
Yes, you can currently travel to Hawaii, but with restrictions. First are arrival restrictions that we’ll cover in the section below. There is still a mandatory 5-day quarantine (in line with CDC guidance) in effect but there are two ways to bypass it: with a vaccine exemption and with pre-travel testing.
Once you get to Hawaii, there are restrictions in place that are constantly changing and will affect your vacation. We’ve included more details on those restrictions below and will keep them up to date, but we know planning a trip to Hawaii is tough right now. That’s why we created a newsletter to keep you informed of changes in state rules and travel advice for coming to Hawaii during these times.
Sign up here for our Hawaii Newsletter. We’ll keep you updated with Hawaii travel restriction updates, videos, and advice on the ground in Hawaii.
Two Travel Options for Domestic Travelers: Vaccine Exemption and Pre-Travel Testing
If you are planning a trip to Hawaii, there are two ways that you can avoid the state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine. Official government details can be found at hawaiicovid19.com. All travelers to Hawaii who are five and older must input their travel information into Hawaii’s Safe Travels website to receive a QR code. The QR code reduces processing time upon arrival. Visitors under five years old are noted in the system as dependents.
1.) Vaccine Exemption Program
If you have been fully vaccinated in the US or US Territories, you can bypass quarantine by uploading proper proof of your vaccination status. Once you input your travel information into Hawaii’s Safe Travels portal, you will have a QR code sent to you via email and will have it sent to you again one-day prior to departure. A health questionnaire completed 24 hours before your trip is no longer required as of January 4th, 2022. You can find more details in our video below for vaccinated travelers:
2.) Pre-travel testing program
Anyone unvaccinated has the option to bypass quarantine by uploading a negative COVID test. This test cannot be taken more than 72 hours before your final leg of departure to Hawaii. Tests must also be taken with a trusted travel testing partner. You can find a list of Hawaii’s Trusted Travel Testing Partners here. Just as with the vaccine exemption process, you will need to input your flight information into Hawaii’s Safet Travels portal and then you will receive a QR code via email and once again one-day prior to departure.
Note on Inter-Island Travel
There used to be a testing requirement for anyone island hopping, but that requirement has been lifted. Now once you are in Hawaii and are not subject to quarantine, you are able to travel between the islands freely.
Travel Options for International Traveler
As begun on November 8th, Hawaii implemented the federal guidelines for international travelers. See this FAQ International section for official information from Hawaii as it gets confusing (they have a flowchart). If you are flying from an international location directly to a Hawaiian island, then you will follow the U.S. Federal process for international travelers.
If you are stopping in the American mainland before you arrive in Hawaii then you will be treated as a domestic visitor. You will be required to follow the Safe Travels Hawaii requirements, those outlined above for domestic visitors.
What Are Current COVID Restrictions in Hawaii by Island?
After an August 2021 press conference where Governor Ige asked visitors to stay away from Hawaii due to the delta variant surge, he is now welcoming visitors back again: “Beginning Nov. 1, we want to invite and encourage fully vaccinated visitors and residents to travel for business or leisure trans-Pacific and inter-island.”
To enter the state via the Safe Travels program, Governor Ige has not stated a booster is required for travel to Hawai’i.
“The Safe Travels system is a complex system, and we are also evaluating the point at which we would end the program. So, there are many decisions that we’ll be making over the next few days,” Gov. Ige said.
Governor Ige says it would take two weeks to change the Safe Travels program to require a booster.
But there are still restrictions in place once you get here that will affect your trip. First, there is still a mask mandate in effect on all islands in Hawaii. Masks must be worn indoors and in crowded settings where maintaining social distancing is not possible.
Each island also has its own set of rules and restrictions. Here are the details for each island.
Island of Hawaii COVID Restrictions
You can get a full list of restrictions for the Big Island on this website. But here are some highlights you should know before you go:
- Masks are required indoors
- Gatherings are capped at a maximum of 10 people indoors (new restriction due to Omicron surge) and 100 outdoors
- Restaurant, Bars, and Social Establishment requirements:
- Masks must be worn at all times except when actively eating and drinking
- Separate groups are prohibited from intermingling
- Customers are urged to sanitize hands upon entry.
- Park pavilions and beaches are open. Pop up tents and canopies are allowed
Oahu COVID Restrictions
Honolulu Mayor Rick Biangardi is planning no new restrictions because Hawaii’s healthcare system isn’t being overtaxed by the new variant.
Safe Access Oahu will continue to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within the last 48 hours to enter a restaurant, bar, or gym.
The mayor is under pressure from the healthcare sector to introduce restrictions on large indoor gatherings like concerts.
In regard to requiring a booster, “I think anything is possible. I’m not going to say no. As the old cliche goes you never say never. But at this point we’re not doing it,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.
Maui COVID Restrictions
Maui County announced emergency rules on December 1st, 2021. The Safer Outdoors plan includes:
- Bars and restaurants have returned to 100% capacity without physical distancing requirements
- Patrons may dine indoors with proof of full vaccination which includes a booster shot, verification of a negative COVID-19 test within 48-hours if they are 12 and older
- Outdoor restrictions have all been lifted, such as social gathering limits
The definition of fully vaccinated has changed. Starting January 8th, Maui requires a booster shot to be required as fully vaccinated.
This means to dine or drink indoors, go to a theater, or do other indoor activities now requires proof of vaccination with a booster shot. Outdoor dining or take-out does not require proof of vaccination. This is part of the Safer Outdoor Plan on Maui.
Only Maui has changed the rule on requiring a booster (at this time).
Kauai COVID Proposals
Things Change — stay up to date
Planning a trip to Hawaii is tough and confusing right now. Stay up to date with what’s happening in Hawaii by signing up for our twice-monthly Hawaii Newsletter. Our newsletter subscribers get all of the real-deal insights to help them make thoughtful decisions, plan, and figure out how to navigate 2021.
I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I am a planner! I love to plan island-hopping adventures, days out on Maui, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time on our SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!
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