The Hawai’i vacation of the 60s may be over for 2021. Spring break in Hawai’i has seen a surge of visitors with upwards of 20,000 a day. The visitors are starting to come again even with the mask mandate and pre-travel testing program in full force. Everyone is in need of a holiday.

Erica, Henry, and I enjoyed two nights camping in Hana in late March. We rented a 1989 VW Westfalia and hit the road for epic waterfall swims, hikes through bamboo and guava forests, and some beach time. We were greeted with lots of aloha spirit on the trails and swimming holes as spring breakers once again traveled the Road to Hana. There weren’t 2019 crowds but a solid group of folks to make it enjoyable.

what to do before going to hawaii 2021

Hawaii Tourism Authority data reported the average daily census was 90,776 visitors on any given day in February, compared to 250,052 visitors in February 2020. A significant drop but March will show a different story. If you are planning on coming out here soon, here are a few tips for your Hawai’i vacation planning.

5 Things to Do Before You Depart for Hawaii

Stop procrastinating and start booking your trip to Hawaii! While you may have your airplane and hotel booked already, don’t forget about the rental car and Hawaii tours to go on. 2021 isn’t a busy year for visitors but that doesn’t mean tours are not getting booked. Here are the things to do before you depart on your Hawaii vacation. 

Also, check out our recommendations for our favorite things to do across the islands. 


1. Make restaurant reservations before you arrive

“A lucky problem” reports restaurant owners in Waikiki. With many restaurants still at 50% capacity for COVID restrictions, seats are filling up fast with the surge in visitors. Waikiki spots are reporting 30-minutes to an hour waits. We are seeing similar waits on Maui. If you have a favorite restaurant in mind, we recommend you book a table as soon as you know your plans.

2. Rental cars at $1,000 a day?

We received this question a lot this month from frantic spring breakers. The national car rental companies are experts at dynamic pricing. There is some macroeconomic concept on this, something about supply and … I’ll remember eventually.

While we love to recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental for their great deals and no prepayment, they use the big brand rental companies. If prices are sky-high, we recommend you call a local car rental company.

A quick Google search will find them. Pick up the phone, old-school style, to chat with them about availability and pricing. One of our readers got a car for $250 a week for the first week in April. Kihei Rent a Car was sold out but they referred him to Aloha Car Rental. That is teamwork folks.

Related article: 11 Tips for Getting Around Hawaii Without a Car

3. Hotel rates and airfare are increasing. Book early to save.

As airlines, vacation rentals, and hotel utilization increase, so are the prices. If you are thinking of a trip out to Hawai’i, it is best to book it sooner rather than later. 

Hat tip to our community member Ranny for pointing out a 10 to 15% increase in vacation rental and airline tickets from January to March.

Hawaii Tourism Authority data is still showing Oahu having the best deals on hotel rates. Oahu hotel rates are 32% lower compared to the same time in 2020. Maui and the Island of Hawai’i are 7% and 12% lower, respectively.

Related article: How Much Does a Trip to Hawaii Cost for a Family of Four in 2021 

4. Book tours and activities before you arrive

The theme is to book early. Tours have similar restrictions to restaurants, they must reduce capacity upwards of 50%. Identify the tours you want to go on and book them immediately. Most allow 24 to 72-hour full refund cancellations so it is best to book so you have no regrets. 

5. Use a trusted travel partner for testing

Don’t be this guy.

I fell for this clickbait headline, “You Think It Might Sound Nice to Visit Hawaii. We Tried, and It Was a Disaster.”

Long story short, the gentleman didn’t use a Trusted Travel Partner. Thanks, Slate for the cutting-edge journalism.

The list of Trusted Travel Partners is west-coast focused but Hawaii does welcome all members of the union. So, we recommend using a take-at-home test like Costco/AZOVA or Vault Health if a partner is not near your home.

Our Maui and Oahu itineraries include all our favorite places to eat, tour operators, and a booking calendar so you know when you need to book in 2021 (we are working hard to get the Kaua’i and Big Island itineraries published!).

Vaccinated Travelers Must Follow the Safe Travels Program

Congrats if you have been vaccinated! Hawaii is 7th in the country on distributing vaccines to the local population. 13% of the island’s 1.4-million population are fully vaccinated. With 10,000 jabs a day, the governor expects to have 900,000 vaccinated by May 1st.

The state is staying vigilant though as hot spots keep spiking across the islands.

As of now, there has been no announcement on easing the testing restrictions for vaccinated travelers. If you have been vaccinated, you still need to follow the pre-travel testing program. But, I bet you will feel more comfortable dining indoors and sipping that mai tai.

Ready to pack your bags for your dream vacation? We've got you covered. Grab our itinerary and guide!

This is the best itinerary you'll find anywhere. With 7+ excursion days that have been carefully planned to help you see the very best of the island. But it's more than just an itinerary.

Along with the excursion days you'll receive:

  • A video guide walking you through the pre-travel testing program
  • A video overview of the island, so you know what to expect when you land
  • A quick hits section with our favorite beaches, snorkel spots, and restaurants
  • Our favorite tour operators
  • Excursion days that you can pick up and do without planning

Dreaming of your dream vacation? We've got you covered. 

Hawaii Itineraries Wayfinder Itineraries

Jordan Fromholz

Jordan Fromholz


I'm the co-founder, with my wife Erica, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I have a thing for photographing pineapples and learning to surf.

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