Tried Getting A Hawaii Restaurant Reservation Lately? Here’s What To Do

If you think the Hawaii car rental situation is bad, you probably haven’t yet encountered what it’s like to eat out in Hawaii. We’re here to report that restaurants that accept reservations are virtually impossible to get into, and those that don’t take reservations, well, you can expect to stand in line for some time. For top-notch restaurants, think Mama’s Fish House on Maui; it is worse. We tried getting a reservation today, and the first one we could find was for July 31.

At present, restaurants in Hawaii are limited to a 50% capacity restriction. Restauranteurs say this is an impossible situation, given the influx of visitor arrivals. Maui’s mayor recently spoke up and asked the governor to return capacity at restaurants to 75%. That request was denied. But now, restauranteurs have asked again, and this time the governor has listened.

Hawaii restaurants will move from 50% capacity up to 75% capacity as soon as 60% of Hawaii residents have been fully vaccinated and/or received one dose. That is likely to happen soon, based on what we are hearing. Currently, that rate stands at 53 percent and rising.

At that same vaccination rate of 60%, social gatherings will also increase to 25 people indoors and up to 75 people outdoors.

Here’s what to do.

Until things change both in terms of capacity and visitor arrivals, it’s best to plan and book restaurants before your trip. Check the websites of your favorite restaurants or use Open Table to see what’s available on the island you are visiting. Another important thing is to book your luau early if it’s on your list of things to do in Hawaii. So that makes, at a minimum, three things to book in advance—airfare, Hawaii car rentals, and now restaurants. You might want to add Hawaii activities to your list for advance bookings as well.

Regular commenter Patrick added these helpful tips:

If you strike out at a restaurant you want to go to, call them and see if they have a waiting list and inform them of the days you would go. If they are sold out and your travel dates are well in advance, it might work out. Once you get there, you can always stop by and ask as they will see you are committed to trying or re-visisting their restaurant. If you are visiting from the mainland especially in the fist few days, trying making an early reservation since you will still be on Mainland time. Good luck.

Share your ideas too on how to find an open table on your Hawaii vacation.

Moana surfrider image courtesy of Marriott.


24 thoughts on “Tried Getting A Hawaii Restaurant Reservation Lately? Here’s What To Do”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that we need to check the websites of the restaurants and use open table to see what are available to visit. I’ll keep that in mind now that we are craving to go to a Hawaiian good restaurant this weekend. My husband and I have been planning to try their food for the past year now, but we are just able to do it now since we feel safer these days even if the pandemic is not yet over.

  2. We made two advance reservations so far – At two of the nicer resorts on the Big Island – MONTHS in advance – and BOTH required a credit card in order to make the advance reservation. Never had to do that before. Neither of these were bookable via Open Table as they were before. Had to call. They have listings on Open Table but the links for booking a table don’t work.

    Just hoping our auto rental is there when we get there and it is the vehicle we booked. :0)

    Not sure if we will make it to Kauai this trip, Jeff. :0( Next time :0)

  3. After reading the comments about the difficulty in getting reservations for dinner at many restaurants, my husband and I spent time tonight booking dinner reservations. We will be in Kauai mid July and were able to successfully book our dinner reservations either through Open Table or by calling the restaurants directly. We booked our favorite restaurants like Dukes, Keoki’s Paradise, Gaylords and Lemongrass Grill. We filled up our 2 weeks nicely leaving a night or two available for walking into places like Coconut Fish Cafe, Smiley’s Local Grinds and Olympic Cafe that don’t take reservations. We’ve never had to plan this far in advance before but seeing that we are in unusual times with Covid-19, this is a whole new plan of attack.So, there is hope! Thank you BOH for all you do to keep us informed!

    1. Hi Lisa.

      That’s great advance planning! Thanks for letting us and others know that it can work.


  4. Hello!

    Does anyone know if hotel restaurants are in this mess too? If I am a guest do I get priority since I’m staying there, can show room key, etc. over the non-guests or public at-large?


    1. Hi Rob.

      We are hearing that the hotel restaurants are in the same boat, unfortunately.


  5. Just another nail in the coffin …. Another why not to visit
    …. And may be a long time before another trip….

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