Kauai Resort Bubbles

Kauai Not Reopening Travel Soon + Kauai Resort Bubbles And More

News in today from Kauai’s mayor, who just indicated that he isn’t planning to rejoin the Hawaii Safe Travels program until mid to late May. And even that, of course, isn’t certain. That news, disheartening to many, comes as Kauai businesses fail at an unprecedented rate, with no sign of any improvement yet in sight.

Kauai currently has only two active cases of COVID and no hospitalizations. And at the same time, Kauai travel, compared with the other Hawaiian Islands, remains decimated. For example, in the past week, an average of just 84 transpacific visitors arrived daily on Kauai. In contrast, Maui transpacific arrivals averaged 3,443 per day during the same period which ended February 17, 2021. That according to the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority.

What options do Kauai vacation travelers have between now and May?

The first of two alternatives visitors currently have is staying at a Kauai resort bubble, which includes a mandatory 3 to 4-night stay. See details below. Bubble prices average out to $460 per night, plus taxes and other fees, ranging from $143 to $1,395.

The second option is to stay 3+ nights on another island first, then take a test, and then come to Kauai with a negative result.

The only option, of course, a 10-day mandatory quarantine. There are no provisions for those who have been vaccinated.

Kauai Resort Bubble List.

The entire list of Kauai resort bubble properties and the best prices we found is as follows. (Nightly costs do not include taxes, resort fees, tracking devices, etc.):

Club at Kukuiula. From $800 nightly.
Timbers at Hokuala. From $1,295 nightly.
Cliffs at Princeville. From $260 nightly.
Koa Kea Hotel. From $344 nightly.
Hilton Garden Inn. From $143 nightly.
Kauai Marriott Resort. From $225 nightly.
Point at Poipu. From $322 nightly.
Hanalei Bay Resort. From $287 nightly. Minimum stay 4 nights to comply with testing requirements.
Hanalei Colony Resort. From $240 nightly.
Lawai Beach Resort (starts 3/15/21). From $1,750 weekly.

Kauai resort bubble issues to consider:

1. A 4-night stay may be required instead of 3-night. The problem is that the bubble guest cannot test out of quarantine until they have been on Kauai for at least 72 hours. Timing complexities include whether or not testing is available on the third day after the required 72 hours is completed. The location of the resort also complicates the issue. Hanalei Bay Resort told us that they only have testing available in the early morning. Not in the evening. Thus their minimum resort bubble stay is 4-nights. Koa Kea Resort told us that testing might be available at late as 7 pm on the third day, although that could not be assured.  They indicated testing needs to be reserved in advance to assure that someone will be available to perform their $200 per person test.

2. The county is also now providing free testing that is valid for those preparing to exit their bubble. Read hours and other details about free Kauai COVID tests.

3. Residents remain disincentivized from doing any testing. As residents, we are hard-pressed to see how anything here helps us. And yet, we appreciate the importance of being tested before flying. Unfortunately, however, the path of least resistance for us when we return home to Kauai is to quarantine for 10 days without testing.

A resort bubble works best for long Kauai vacations.

As you know, quarantine at Kauai resort bubbles, a controversial measure that was opposed in 98% of your hundreds of comments, was previously approved by Governor Ige. He said, “This proposal will allow Kauai to move forward with limited tourism in ‘resort bubbles’ while honoring the county’s request to opt-out of the Safe Travels pre-travel testing program.”

If you stay three nights (perhaps 4) at an approved resort and have a negative test result on the next day, you are free to explore Kauai without restrictions and change accommodations if you wish for the rest of your stay. Otherwise, all arrivals, including returning residents, must quarantine for 10 days or choose the other option below.

Alternative to Kauai resort bubbles.

If you stay 3 nights on another Hawaiian island first, then test after 72 hours, and subsequently come to Kauai with a negative result, you will not be subject to any quarantine. To qualify, visitors must be “Be physically present in the State of Hawai‘i for more than 72 hours before flying to Kauai to qualify as an inter-island traveler.”

Furthermore, you must prove a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of interisland travel to Lihue. And to reiterate, that test needs to be taken after 72 hours on another island. These test results need to be uploaded to the state’s Safe Travels website/program.

This option does provide a good alternative for travelers who, for example, spend 3+ nights on Oahu, Maui, or Big Island, before coming to Kauai. However, you cannot fly directly to Kauai from the mainland and participate in this program.

As with the Kauai resort bubbles, availability and the timing of testing on another island is something that needs to be determined well in advance to avoid complications.

Important update on pre-travel testing requirements:

The pre-travel test associated with the resort bubble quarantine may come from sources other than Hawaii trusted partners. This is very significant since many of you have commented that access to “trusted partners” is not ideal for various reasons. The county website says:

“Take a pre-travel test within 72 hours before arriving on Kauai and receive a negative test result. The lab does not need to be on the state’s Trusted Testing and Travel Partners list for use in Kauai’s resort bubble program. This test can be any COVID-19 diagnostic test (an antigen or PCR test) with emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

“In addition to participating in the EMQ (resort bubble) program, a traveler must receive both a negative test result for COVID-19 from a test administered at their own expense within 72 hours before the final leg of departure of their trip to Kauai and a second negative test result from a test administered at their own expense 72 hours or more after their arrival to be exempt from mandatory self-quarantine.”

“This exemption from mandatory self-quarantine is separate and independent of participation in the State Safe Travels program.”

Updated 2/18/21.

Beat of Hawaii © photo on Kauai.

524 thoughts on “Kauai Not Reopening Travel Soon + Kauai Resort Bubbles And More”

  1. Would like updates for Canadian visitors to Kauai who have had two vaccinations and have a negative test 72 hours prior to departure from Canada. i.e. Edmonton (YEG) to Lihue (LIH) via Seattle.

    1. “Until further notice, those traveling to any Hawaii destination from the mainland are required to have an approved COVID test from a “trusted partner” within 72 hours of travel.” – so check if you have a Hawaii safe travels “trusted partner” in Edmonton that you are using (with a Hawaii safe travels approved type of test). If you don’t you will need to get such a test in Seattle. I found this easiest to do with an overnight stay in Seattle.

  2. Since the above article was published in Feb 21, can you please send me the current Kauai restrictions and If possible, send updates for the next two months (May & June 2021).

  3. I just canceled my vacation there. Had we gone and i would be told i “have” to stay somewhere when i have a covid negative test in hand i would not comply. I would walk to my rental car i prepaid and get it. If id be stopped excercising my contstituitonal rights as an american citizen in america i would of resisted any arrest attempts and view any attempt to restrain me as a threat on my life which i would respond with lethal recourse. With that said im sueing the state of hawaii for fees and airfaire rates and emotional distress.

  4. Thank you for keeping us all up-to-date with this information. Is the resort bubble program ending insight? We are hoping to come in early May. ~M

    1. Hi Megan.

      We haven’t heard anything official yet, but that would be the logical conclusion.


  5. So will travelers be able to travel to Oahu for 72 hours without restrictions, and be able to explore, then catch a flight to Kauai after a negative test? We are trying to avoid the resort bubble.

  6. Good news – I see that United has started non-stop service from LAX to Lihue, starting April 5th. The planes look pretty empty now. I hope people book flights to support Kauai’s economy and enjoy the beautiful island.

  7. It’s a blessing that they are ending this resort bubble program. We flew into Kauai yesterday Saturday March 13th. We checked into the Marriott in Lihue. It took them over an hour to get the tracking app onto both our phones. At one point they disappeared with my phone to have a manager figure out how to get the app to work. Everybody was standing at the front counter trying to get their phones loaded with this ridiculous app so we can be tracked on the property.

    It’s amazing how much people people’s behavior has changed. Everyone is avoiding everyone here at the Marriott. If you don’t have your mask on you get a dirty look. You can’t get in the elevator with anybody else. We did not realize that and got in the elevator this morning with one person and he gave us a dirty look and got out. It’s just sad.

    We were able to golf this morning at Hokulua golf course. So that was worth it. We are able to eat at Duke’s restaurant next door to the Marriott. We are anxious for a 72-hour period to be over with and are praying our covid tests come back negative. We’ve both been vaccinated but that is meaningless here.


    1. CYNTHIA H…
      Just curious what app you are talking about? Does the tracking monitor you wear have an app that must be installed? If so, you would think that after all this time, it would have been a piece of cake to install it! As for only one person on an elevator – that has been a Marriott and MVCI policy for a year now and there are usually signs at every elevator. And as for how people’s attitudes having changed – that’s simply called “covid”. I’d give anything to accidentally mess up and get a dirty look if it was on Kauai! We’ve had to cancel our last three trips since we can’t get Rapid Response testing anywhere in our state and the only tests you can get only have a 48 hour appointment availability window so not being able to get tested made traveling to our beloved Kauai for the 44th time a non-event! At least you’re there!

      1. Shame on me for complaining! It also took us a lot of effort to get here. I hope you get to be here soon too.

        The tracking app is named Aqua. It would have made sense to receive instructions to install it before we got there. The problem for the hotel is there are so many different types of phones with different operating systems that it has proved to be a huge challenge for them to get it set up.

        Also worth mentioning, when you get to the airport you are greeted with the national guard and the police. Seems very different.

    2. Take the stairs. It’s better for your physical health. Sounds like would be better for your mental health, too. The Marriott you are staying is low rise, so we aren’t talking about many stairs.

      Yes, you being vaccinated is meaningless in Hawaii, and apparently in lots of other places on the planet. You ever watch the movie “Casino”? Remember the old mafioso with the oxygen tank towards the end: “why take a chance?” and the ensuing mayhem?

      That is what you are up against.

        1. Yeah, I was not remembering it properly. But, nine floors a few times a day makes for good exercise. The people who need it most wont do it, though.

          1. DAVID B… It struck home because we always stay on the 9th floor and knowing the “one family unit per elevator ride” rule, we’re re-thinking what floor we’re going to request for our July trip!

          2. Start climbing stairs now. By July, nine floors will be nothing to you. In fact, you may turn around, go back to the first floor, and climb them again just to show off!

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