2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

TripBlog
Sep 9, 2021

Hawai'i is America's tropical paradise. With lush green landscapes, black volcanic beaches, and world-class surf breaks, Hawai'i is an all-around ideal destination. To help you discover the Aloha State, we've put together this short travel guide looking at 5 amazing things to do in Hawai'i for 2021. Come along as we venture from the Big Island to Kauai and everywhere in between. We're going to ascend Mauna Kea and dive amongst the shipwrecks on O'ahu. We're Hanging Ten on the North Shore and heading into Honolulu for some great shopping and dining. Whatever you fancy, you can scratch the itch in Hawai'i. Let's get started!

Contents

Travel Requirements During COVID-19
Does Hawai'i require quarantine?
How can I avoid quarantine?
Can I travel during quarantine?
What vaccines does Hawai'i recognize?
How do I prove I'm fully vaccinated?
What if I was vaccinated outside the US?
How do I get to Hawai'i?
Safe Travels Hawai'i
Pre-Departure
On-Arrival
A Note on International Arrivals
Things to Do in Hawai'i
1. Hunting for Waterfalls on Kaua'i
2. Whale Watching off Maui
3. Urban Fun in Honolulu
4. Greater O'ahu and North Shore Surfing
5. Star Gazing and Volcano Hunting on the Big Island

Travel Requirements During COVID-19

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

Does Hawai'i require quarantine?

Hawai’i requires unvaccinated travelers to self-quarantine for 10 days.

How can I avoid quarantine?

You can avoid the mandatory 10-day self-quarantine if you have proof that you were fully vaccinated in the United States or in one of its territories. Alternatively, you can upload proof of a negative nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) result that was issued no more than 72 hours prior to departure by a trusted testing provider.

Can I travel during quarantine?

No. If you're required to self-quarantine, you must serve the full 10 days before you are allowed to travel about or to visit another island.

What vaccines does Hawai'i recognize?

In order to be considered fully vaccinated, you must have proof you have received two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one shot of Johnson & Johnson at least 15 days prior to your intended arrival in Hawai’i.

How do I prove I'm fully vaccinated?

You must use the State of Hawaii's Safe Travels Hawai'i digital platform to upload proof you were vaccinated in the United States or in one of its territories. You must also use the platform to upload your negative test results no more than 24 hours before your scheduled departure.

What if I was vaccinated outside the US?

You will have to serve the mandatory 10-day self-quarantine.

How do I get to Hawai'i?

Most US domestic air carriers as well as many foreign carriers have flights to Hawai'i. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu is the state's largest airport and offers the best options if you're traveling from the continental US or from cities abroad. Once in Hawai'i, you can easily secure onward air transportation to other islands. Interisland flights are easy to book, though baggage fees can get out of hand if you're continually checking bags. Unfortunately, the interisland ferry service is extremely limited and does not serve all the main islands. Land transportation on individual islands is straightforward. Public buses run in Honolulu and larger population centers. Charter bus services exist for intercity connections.

Safe Travels Hawai'i

Pre-Departure

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

Fully vaccinated travelers and those who comply with the state's pre-departure testing requirements can avoid being stuck in quarantine for 10 days. In order to fulfill state-mandated testing guidelines, travelers will need to obtain a negative nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) result no more than 72 hours prior departing on the final leg of their journey to Hawai'i. Test must be performed by a trusted testing partner. Among NAATs, the so-called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are the most common and well known. Nearly all healthcare providers are able to either perform a PCR test or refer patients to reputable testing facilities. A list of state-approved trusted testing providers is available. Once you receive your negative test result, you need to upload it to your Safe Travels Hawai'i account before you depart. This is important!

On-Arrival

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

When you arrive in Hawai'i, you should expect a multilayered screening process involving several steps. First, all arriving passengers will undergo initial temperature screening. Afterwards, you will need to complete a Mandatory State of Hawai'i Travel and Health Form. Travelers are asked to provide their personal information, travel history, local contact information, and to answer several health screening questions. All information is used by state authorities for contact tracing and pandemic control purposes. Passengers who register a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or above are required to undergo additional screening. Finally, in order to avoid the mandatory 10-day quarantine requirement and accompanying prohibition on interisland travel, passengers must present proof of vaccination or their negative NAAT result to authorities for inspection and approval.

A Note on International Arrivals

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

At the time of writing, international travel into the United States from the Brazil, the European Union, Iran, Mainland China, and the United Kingdom remains suspended. If you plan to arrive from abroad, you're strongly encouraged to contact your local US embassy or consulate regarding specific federal requirements for entry into the United States from your location.

Things to Do in Hawai'i

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

Once you've completed the arrival procedures and reached your hotel or local accommodations, you'll probably be ready to get started enjoying Hawai'i without delay. Assuming you are not under any obligation to quarantine, you will be free to move around the islands normally. Be aware that some localities do have additional policies in place. When planning where to go, consider the sort of things you think you will enjoy seeing. Here are our recommendations for 5 great things to do in Hawai’i that should get you started. Without further ado…

1. Hunting for Waterfalls on Kaua'i

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

Kaua'i is the fourth-largest island in the Hawaiian chain. Geologically it’s the oldest of the main islands. Līhuʻe Airport is the gateway to Kaua’i and is located on the island’s southeastern shore. Kauai’s allure comes from its beautiful scenery, which includes rugged nature preserves. The island relies on tourism to support the local economy so you shouldn’t encounter difficulties. Start on northern coast where you will find incredible beaches at Hanalei Bay. The large bay offers relatively protected waters in the shadow of emerald green mountains. Surf conditions here are world class. Seasoned wave riders often venture here from the more frequented big wave breaks on the other islands. From Hanalei Bay, continue along the island’s north shore to Na Pali Coast State Park. The park’s otherworldly landscapes seem like large honeycombs covered in a dazzling display of green. Myriad coves conceal pristine waterfalls. Trekkers will delight in gazing upon seemingly undiscovered brooks and cascading falls. It’s simply an enchanting destination. On the western side of Kaua’i you will find Waimea Canyon State Park. Known to many as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea was carved over centuries by rainwater runoff from Mount Waiʻaleʻale. Among the wettest places on Earth, the mountain feeds Waimea’s innumerable waterfalls. Come see the reddish soils and green vegetation set against azure blue skies. It will leave you with the memories of a lifetime.

2. Whale Watching off Maui

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

Hawai’i’s second-largest island is a true gem. Kahului Airport is located on Maui’s northern shores and is the main route onto the island. Grab yourself a car and take the Road to Hana. The scenic drive along Highway 360 offers near miraculous backdrops as it climbs past roadside villages, pristine swimming holes, and cool tropical forests. When poets describe Earthly paradise, the Road to Hana undoubtedly fits the bill. Along the way be sure and stop to enjoy Hanawi Falls and the Hāna Lava Tube. Upper Waikani Falls is a triple-waterfall system a bit past the halfway point. After arriving in Hana, swing up to Haleakala National Park. The landscapes left by the now dormant Haleakalā volcano are impressive. Many people enjoy catching the sunrise from the mountain, which is possible if you organize your trip ahead of time. Trace the old lava flows down to the Maui’s southeast coast where you’ll come upon the Pools at 'Ohe'o. The hike to the pools is one of the most popular and highly-rewarding treks you can find. On southern Maui near Maalaea you will find the Maui Ocean Center, a 5-acre aquarium with a range of sea life on display. This is a popular spot to link up with whale watching tours. Depending on the season, humpbacks and other species migrate through the waters, drawing legions of spectators pining to see the gentle giants.

3. Urban Fun in Honolulu

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

Hawai’i’s state capital and largest city will be most people’s first experience on the islands. There are many resorts clustered along the beaches and a vibrant community built around Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, the US military’s large redoubt in the Pacific. Obviously you should make a point to visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and see the remains of the USS Arizona. It’s a moving tribute to the more than 1,100 sailors and Marines still entombed there. Visitors can also tour the decommissioned USS Missouri, on whose deck the Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender on September 2, 1945, thereby ending World War II in the Pacific. Afterwards, head back into Honolulu where you can stroll along the famous Waikiki Beach. Imortalized in many a 1960s ballad, Waikiki is synonymous with Hawai’i. The long sandy beach and neighboring resorts attract visitors from around the world. A little further along the coast is Diamond Head. Hike up to a great overlooking view along the shore and back towards Waikiki. At night, visit the restaurants and bars scattered throughout the city. If you’re looking for a good historical tour, Iolani Palace features exhibitions about indigenous Hawaiian culture and the monarchs who ruled here before the US government deposed them. Honolulu is in many ways the center of Hawaiian life so you’re sure to find plenty to enjoy.

4. Greater O'ahu and North Shore Surfing

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

O'ahu has a lot to offer beyond Honolulu. From arguably the world’s single best section of surf breaks to spectacular Hanauma Bay, you could easily spend your entire Hawaiian vacation on O'ahu. If you’re setting out from Honolulu along the Kalaniana’ole Highway, make a stop at Hanauma Bay. The bay’s spectacular blue waters backdrop photos taken from the surrounding hills. Further up the road, you’ll find Halona Blowhole. The natural rock formation was created over centuries as pounding waves wore away the rock and pressure differentials send water shooting skyward. Along O’ahu’s northern shores are famous surf breaks including Sunset Beach and Banzai Pipeline. However, surf aficionados will head straight for Waimea Bay. It was here in 1957 that Greg Noll and a handful of others revolutionized surfing and brought the big into big wave riding! Waimea has long loomed large in the surfing community. This is the place to be if you want to test yourself against the best. On you way out to Waimea along Route 99, stop at the Dole Plantation and walk through the pineapple fields. Finally, those anxious to get under the waves will find some excellent scuba diving and snorkeling on O’ahu. There are many dive operators around the island. Consider venturing to the USS YO-257 shipwreck site if you want a fascinating and challenging underwater adventure.

5. Star Gazing and Volcano Hunting on the Big Island

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

The Big Island is where you can sample the best Hawai’i has to offer. Flights are available to either Kona International Airport on the west side of the island or to Hilo International Airport on the east. Hilo is a good choice if you want to reach Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. This is where you will find Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Kīlauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and has been erupting nearly continuously for decades. With lava flowing down towards the sea, Kīlauea is always adding to the Big Island’s landmass. Mauna Loa is the world’s largest shield volcano and the dramatic feature on the Big Island landscape. Volcanoes National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is truly one of the most beautiful places in all Hawai’i. Not far outside Hilo city is the famous Rainbow Falls, so-named for the persistent rainbows visible there nearly year-round. On the northern reaches of the Big Island is Mauna Kea, a now dormant volcano rising over 4,200 m above sea level. Due to this elevation, its summit sits above most weather systems resulting in fantastic astronomical viewing conditions. The Mauna Kea Observatories take full advantage to conduct some of the world’s most cutting-edge research. The telescopes here are among the best in the scientific community. Amateur astronomers or anyone who enjoys a good stargazing party will be beside themselves on a visit to Mauna Kea. In wintertime it’s about the only place in Hawai’i that receives measurable snowfall. So you can climb from tropical jungle to snow-capped mountains in just a few hours.

2021 Hawai'i COVID-19 Travel Guide

Hawai’i’s rich landscapes and proud indigenous culture have long attracted visitors. There is a beauty here found nowhere else in the United States. With a well-developed tourist infrastructure and easy connections to the mainland and cities abroad, Hawai’i is the ideal getaway. Come explore the pristine trails on Kaua’i, snap photos of migrating whale pods off Maui, shoot the curl at Banzai Pipeline, or stand in awe of immense volcanic eruptions on the Big Island. Hawai’i is a place you have to experience to believe. Once you do, you’ll understand why the Aloha State is nothing short of paradise.