Hawaii Visitors are Back and Mostly It's Good

Hawaii Visitors are Back and Mostly It’s Good

Kauai has come back online as of this week as it rejoined the rest of the state in the Hawaii Safe Travels program. Moreover, Hawaii travel is in an unexpected and maybe unprecedented boon. That, while international travel and other exotic destinations remain off the table for now due to COVID restrictions. Furthermore, the resumption of travel is a good thing, and we know many people who have been able to go back to work here, for the first time in more than a year. It comes too at a good time since Hawaii ranks last in the country on key economic indicators due to our previously decimated tourism economy.

Yesterday, Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki from Honolulu had an interesting reaction to the sudden rebound that caught all of us by surprise. He said that while we thought tourism’s return would be slow and safe, it is definitely anything but slow. He further commented on what we already know. Come June, he said, the lid is off, and tourism will be back at full capacity. From then through the end of 2021, booking numbers are even exceeding those in 2019.

Saiki is a big proponent of removing testing requirements starting with interisland travel and, in fact, and suggested that occur months ago. That message has been seconded again this week by both Hawaiian Airlines’ CEO Peter Ingram and by the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association’s president Mufi Hannemann.

How will tourism rebound impact Hawaii residents?

We are glad you are back! But remember never to let your guard down when it comes to COVID. Visitors and residents need to team together on this. That means, among other things, that everyone mask up and to practice social distancing at least for now. We’ll also be facing the potential for some unexpected crowding on highways and beaches. It’s a great chance for all of us, both residents and visitors, to practice Aloha.

Before COVID, social distancing was already in place with sea turtles and monk seals (like the ones pictured above) on the beach. Keep giving sea creatures space and humans too who are not in your family. We can get through this together while enjoying everything Hawaii has to offer.

49 thoughts on “Hawaii Visitors are Back and Mostly It’s Good”

  1. Aloha Guys,
    Completely agree with your article. It hurts to look at countries that made good use of a mask and compare our covid numbers to their numbers. Finally we can see some light at the end of the tunnel but, we are not there yet. Let’s hope the rest of the year runs more smoothly.

  2. Thanks so much for the update. With the testing requirements changing, it’s hard to know what to prepare for. I’ve been fully vaccinated, at the end of March, but my wife and daughter have yet to get theirs. We have plans to be in Oahu for Thanksgiving week and I hope that decisions will be finalized prior to that. If Hawaii requires us to test, in addition to full vaccination, we’ll do that. We won’t risk it; we already cancelled our Hawaii trip last year and we don’t want to cancel again.

    Thanks so much for all of your info BOH.

  3. I worry about the price gouging. After the whole rental car fiasco. Hopefully businesses don’t try to makeup for loss income out of the pockets of the 1st wave of tourist.

  4. Respectfully I have read conflicting information. Your article makes it seem inter island travel is imminent and things will get easier.
    Read another that states Victorino is going to require a rapid test on direct flights to Maui.
    I am flying to Oahu then transfer to a flight to OGG. Do you know if that will exempt me from the rapid test in Maui?


  5. Aloha Rob and Jeff,
    My family of six (wife and I, and four kids) just completed nine outstanding days between Maui and Oahu, and cannot thank you enough for all the helpful insights over the last 20-months of planning (to include multiple changes to air, hotel and car itineraries). As many have noted, Maui was busy, but we never felt especially crowded, even when driving the Road to Hana or snorkeling the Molokini Crater. Oahu was a different story, beginning with crowds at the Rental Car Counter, traffic jams on the road and crazy crowds at the Dole Plantation. That said, we really had a great time, never felt unsafe with most everyone obeying masking, and distancing, guidelines and – thanks to United – were able to whisk through COVID screening in Maui. This really is the best time to visit Hawaii, and I hope your favorite businesses were able to reopen and are reaping the benefits.
    Bryan C

    1. Hi Bryan.

      Thank you! We appreciate your kind words and are very happy to hear you had a great time on Maui and Oahu. Hope you can return again soon.


  6. And news last night that Maui’s Mayor will implement a 2nd Test upon arrival (trans pacific, including the mainland). The Hawaii Govt so slow on most things, then quick to lut into place something that makes no sense. Fully vaccinated travellers to Maui will have to pre-travel test and NOW will have to take a 2nd test upon arrival?!?!? Is it even legal to require a 2nd test? This will lower those visitor numbers this very article is talking about.

  7. What is meant by, “Come June, he said, the lid is off, and tourism will be back at full capacity.”?

  8. Aloha! I just want to say Mahalo to Beat of Hawaii for always igniting my longing for the Aloha-Spirit and re-connecting me with the Islands.

  9. I thank you so much for the info you provide us, the public. My wife and I had a trip scheduled for the first week of May in anticipation of a vaccination passport being available. Obviously we canceled when it was determined that was not going to happen until July. We were going to stay at the Wyndham Kona Coast Resort. I would be grateful if you could tell us which building is the newer. They offer both at the same price. We chose the villa Naia but the villa Honu is also available. Do you have any knowledge of the difference between the two. Hopefully we will be visiting sometime after the passports are accepted without requiring the covid test. Mahalo.

    1. Hi Michael.

      We don’t know anything about the buildings at that resort. Perhaps someone else who does will lend a hand, or you might just contact the resort staff itself with your question.


  10. So… when can we travel without quarantine and we have been fully vaccinated??? Already cancelled 3 trips to Hawaii since this all started. Just want one more trip before we aren’t able to do it.

    1. Judy,
      As long as you test negative through a trusted partner within 72 hours of departure you don’t need to quarantine. There are lots of online things to upload and do but it’s worth it!

    2. Me too. I have already cancelled twice and now booked for October. I would love to come with mask and social distance only. Testing for us is a long two hour drive one way, so not looking forward to that. I have reviewed my vaccines and just praying everything is pretty much normal by October. I’m getting to old to keep putting it off!

    3. Dear Judy, I’m planning my life long dream vacation trip to Oahu next year!!♡♡♡ I’m getting very excited 🙂

    1. Aloha Judy, don’t count on it anytime soon. I would plan on getting your COVID test within 72 hours of your departure from the mainland to Hawaii and not worry about a vaccine passport as who the heck knows when that will happen. I’ve been to Kauai 3 times (October 2020, Jan 2021, and April 2021) since COVID hit and did the 72 hour test thing without any issues. When we went in January we spent five nights on the Big Island first and had to do a rapid test upon arrival, in addition to the 72 hours prior test, and that was quick and easy. As long as you follow the rules and complete all the info on the Hawaii Safe Travels website, you’ll be fine. We did see people who didn’t do it correctly get turned around and sent back on planes to the mainland, but that’s on them for not taking the time to understand the rules. Jumping through a few hoops to be able to go to paradise is worth it until this all gets sorted out. Aloha

  11. I am assuming the big tourist boom is with US Citizens? There is still no way for international travelers (Canada for eg) to go without quarantining?

  12. Hi Rob and Jeff,

    Thanks for the informative articles! Do you have any idea how all these tourists are going to get cars? I chose random dates in April and then May on Costco’s rental car site, nothing was available on Maui! I’m not planning to travel, just trying to figure if people will be renting our condo, I don’t think so.

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Lanell.

      Good to hear from you. We do find that there are car rentals on Maui, but that they are very expensive at from $100 to $200/day or more, depending on dates. It is going to take some time apparently for the agencies to relocate cars to Hawaii. We haven’t seen anything on when that might happen.


    1. Dear Kimberly, I’m planning my life long dream vacation trip to Oahu next year& I’m getting very excited! !♡♡

  13. I am trying to fly to Honolulu on United and just don’t know how to get a accepted test 3 days in advance?

    1. my wife and I got our covid test at Walgreens for free, it only took 24 hours to get the results of the aegis pcr..

    2. Michal,
      Where are you flying from? If California, check City Health for Covid testing with results in 72 hours.
      Megan M

    3. The answers to many, if not all, of your testing questions can be found at:


      … at the section “ Travel to Hawaii still starts with COVID testing”

      Follow the links for “Trusted Travel Partners” and select the partner that best meets your needs. I have used Vault Health twice at $119 per test, but the results take two to three days after sampling. I used Walgreens “Rapid Diagnostic Test (ID NOW)” once (careful – not all of the Walgreens tests are acceptable to the State of Hawaii), got results within an hour and the test was free.

      Good luck!

      1. Good Morning. Please comment about the supposed very high car rental prices. Apparently, vehicle fleets were sold off during the Chinese Virus outbreak, so supply-&-demand has resulted in the increased prices. Any idea when balance will return to the islands. Thanks.

        1. Don… The rate we booked two weeks ago is now $500 more than when we booked and that was $w00 more than when we first looked a month ago and stupidly didn’t book. (This was for a three weeks rental.)

    4. Look on Walgreens website for an ID NOW location. I have heard that this is one of the fastest ones. Plus they bill your insurance apparently.

    5. Good luck with that!! It’s very stressful and if someone in your party fails the test, you’re out serious $$ not counting the disappointment !! It’s a racket!

    6. Go to Walgreens.com. Look for a red dot location near you. Test and results guaranteed in 24 hours. Usually come back with 2 hours!

      1. @KL – Your comment “Look for a [Walgreens] red location near you” is correct ONLY for this Walgreens COVID-19 test location website:


        By using the “Available Tests” filter menu near the upper left corner of the map and clicking on the check box next to the red dot next to “Rapid Diagnostic Test (ID NOW),” the map will filter the stores and show locations providing that State of Hawaii approved test.

        The regular Walgreens “Find Location” website page will show the closest Walgreens to your location with a dark blue dot and other locations with red dots, but this tells us NOTHING about the COVID-19 tests offered at the location, so I do NOT recommend anyone use this “Store Locator” link for Walgreens COVID-19 test information:


        p.s. For anyone living in California, I have yet to find a Walgreens in the entire state that offers “ID NOW” testing. If you find one, please share it here!

        1. PAUL M… You are correct except that on the “main” Walgreens site (as well as the store locator site, all you have to do is search for “Covid Testing” and it takes you right to the site you mentioned – so no need to remember a separate site. But thanks for posting it.

    7. Aloha,
      Michael S.
      I am traveling in May and plan to use Vault testing service. Its a DIY via zoom verification and UPS delivery. I’ve heard they have a good reputation.
      Anyone have experience with it?
      Good Luck and happy travels.

      1. @Laurie S. – I used Vault Health twice. For both Oahu trips I chose to move my travel dates from Tuesday to Thursday because there is no UPS Next-Day air service on Sundays. Vault Health’s website even recommends you use another service if you depart your final flight segment on a Monday or Tuesday.

        So I successfully tested on a Monday, and had results by Tuesday afternoon (first trip) and Wednesday night (second more stressful trip; delivery of my sample to the Vault Health lab in New Jersey was delayed due to the middle U.S. mainland freeze a few weeks ago). I will use Walgreens ID NOW from now on – it’s no cost to me, it saves me the $119 Vault Health fee, and the stress of waiting a day or days for results.

        1. Laurie S and Paul M… Once again – agree 1000% BUT only if there’s a Walgreens in your area that does Rapid Testing. There is not a single one in our entire state! AND, Laurie – check with your state as ours offers testing thru Vault at $0 under a state-funded program.

    8. Check the united.com/2021-01-27-united-makes-hawaii-travel-easier-with-expanded-covid-testing-and-pre-clearance-program-2650152842.html United Airlines website.

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