Summer Guide to 2021 Hawaii Travel During COVID

Revised November 2021 Guide to Hawaii Travel During COVID

Since Hawaii officially reopened to visitors, the rules that apply to arrivals remain in a state of change, as recently as last week, and impacting both domestic and international arrivals. To say the least, this can be challenging when planning a Hawaii vacation. To help, we try to keep this post updated as things change, so check again for more information. This was last updated on November 14, 2021.

Travel to Hawaii from within the US.

Note: travel from within the US applies even to international arrivals unless the flight is direct to Hawaii, with a single flight number. Nonstop international flights to Hawaii originate in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Asia for example, but not from Europe. This means that if you are an international arrival that connects to a Hawaii-bound flight on the mainland, you will need to satisfy either option below:

COVID testing option.

Note: approved vaccines changed as of November 8, 2021.

1. For those not fully vaccinated, or those ineligible by age or otherwise from vaccination, the following applies. You must test within 72 hours of a scheduled transpacific flight departure to Hawaii, and tests must be from one of the Hawaii-approved testing partners. Costs for testing are borne by travelers and can vary from free to $250 per person.

2. Important Hawaii-specific testing rules. Hawaii requires NAAT/PCR testing only, and nothing else is acceptable. Equally important, the test source must be one of Hawaii’s trusted partners, not any lab, even when it is the correct test. The specific language in effect is as follows: “The state of Hawai‘i will ONLY accept Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab test results from Trusted Testing and Travel Partners. A negative COVID-19 test result is required before departure to avoid quarantine in Hawaii.”

3. The minimum age for required testing is 5 years. All travelers 5 and above who are not fully vaccinated must have a COVID-19 test and negative results through the state’s trusted testing partners per the requirements of Hawaii Safe Travels.

Vaccinated travel option.

Note: booster vaccinations are not required at this time and, there are new vaccine options.

1. Those travelers arriving from within the US (regardless of citizenship) can be exempt from quarantine using the vaccination option. Fully vaccinated at this time means does not include any requirement for booster vaccinations.

2. Effective November 8, the list of acceptable vaccines has gone into compliance with the CDC. The federal government says that now accepted include Astra­Zeneca, Covaxin, Johnson & Johnson, Mo­derna, Pfizer, Sinopharm, and Sinovac. The governor’s announcement said, “Also, beginning on Nov. 8, the State of Hawaiʻi, in alignment with the federal government, will accept vaccines approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization.”

Travel to Hawaii from outside the US.

Testing for all passengers among other rules.

Note: Starting November 8, in conjunction with federal government rule changes, “direct” international arrival requirements to Hawaii are different. Direct means a through-flight on a single flight number, where you don’t leave the flight or a nonstop flight. International arrivals that do not comply with the “direct flight” definition will be considered as domestic arrivals and must comply with those rules for travel to Hawaii.

1. For non-US citizens traveling “directly” to Hawaii from another country, both 1) proof of vaccination and 2) a negative NAAT/Antigen COVID test within three days of boarding a flight to the US will be required. Testing for direct international arrivals does not need to comply with partners and test requirements associated with Hawaii Safe Travels.

2. For US citizens flying “directly” to Hawaii from another country, 1) fully vaccinated passengers must also provide a NAAT/Antigent COVID test “taken within 72 hours” of the US-bound flight. Or, 2) those US citizens not fully vaccinated are now required to show proof of the same negative test “taken within 24 hours” of boarding the US-bound flight.

Hawaii Trusted Travel Partners’ requirement eliminated only for direct international flights.

For direct international arrivals, tests must be either NAAT or Antigen but no longer need to be from a Trusted Travel Partner. See federal rules in effect here.

Also starting November 8, all airlines flying to the US are required to collect and maintain international passenger contact tracing information.

Everyone must follow the Hawaii Safe Travels rules precisely to avoid quarantine.

Hawaii is inflexible about those who don’t get test results within the right timeframe, take the wrong test, or obtain them from the wrong source. The state does not make any exceptions. That same lack of flexibility will be the case regarding following the proof of vaccination rules too.

Should anything go awry, you could end up having to leave Hawaii or enter the mandatory quarantine of 10 days. However, don’t let that dissuade you as close to one million visitors per month are arriving successfully, and nearly all have been able to avoid problems. On the other hand, there are nightmare stories of those who took the wrong test, obtained it from the wrong source, or took it a day too early, ruining their expensive and long-planned Hawaii vacation.

Essentials prior to traveling to Hawaii.

1. All arrivals, both domestic and international, age 18 and older need to register through the Hawaii Safe Travels online program. That is a mandatory requirement for both mainland and interisland travel is true whether you are fully vaccinated or not.

2. Passengers under age 18 do not need a Safe Travels account. Adults need to add each child to their Safe Travels account and upload their 1) proof of vaccination or 2) Safe Travels compliant test results together with theirs. Upload and link each proof document to the actual adult or child traveling.

3. Negative test results and/or proof of vaccination must be in-hand as well as uploaded to the Safe Travels website before departure on your flight from the US mainland to Hawaii.

4. For those testing, if you have multiple flights to get to Hawaii, the “within 72-hour” timeframe is based on the last flight that ends with your landing in Hawaii.

5. Be prepared for screeners who will review/verify the vaccination documents, match photo IDs, name and DOB as well as confirm that the attestations are signed.

6. You can travel to Hawaii no sooner than the 15th day following the completion of full vaccination.

7. Upload proof of vaccination or testing documents to their Safe Travels Hawai‘i account, prior to traveling to Hawaii and “sign the online legal attestations on Safe Travels Hawaii, confirming the uploaded documentation is true and accurate.”

8. A mandatory health questionnaire must be added to your Safe Travels account within 24 hours before departure. That applies to both domestic and international arrivals.

Tip: obtain airline “Pre-Clear: at the airport prior to Hawaii departure.

Hawaii-bound passengers can complete their Safe Travels compliance, including vaccination/testing proof, checked before departure from the mainland rather than on arrival in Hawaii. In addition, your airline will verify your entire Safe Travels profile and provide you with a pre-clear wristband, which allows you to bypass airport arrival procedures in Hawaii. Visitors have uniformly raved about how much this has helped streamline the process and save time. This also gives you peace of mind that there will be no issues arriving in Hawaii.

Travel to Hawaii if you have recovered from COVID.

If you have tested positive and then recovered from COVID, there is an exemption available. The rules, according to the State of Hawaii are as follows:

To be considered for this exemption, you must comply with all of the rules found here.

Updated 11/14/21


595 thoughts on “Revised November 2021 Guide to Hawaii Travel During COVID”

  1. Hi,
    I are traveling from San Diego to Maui in mid January. I am vaccinated and boostered.

    As of now, is that sufficient or do I have to test a Covid test.

    Thank you for your time!!

  2. You stated that tests for Covid for travel to Hawaii range from free to 250.00, do you have a list of free or low cost tests? We are travelling from California to Maui and although my husband and I are vaccinated our daughter’s husband refuses to get or allow our daughter to get vaccinated.

    1. LORRAINE L… We used Walgreens and test cost $200. It is impossible as it appears to vary from state to state, city to city. For instance, using Vault Health costs (I don’t know what) but in New Mexico, the state subsidizes it and Vault is free. You just have to check locally.

    2. wow so the husband dictates whether his wife gets the vaccine or not? Sound like you have bigger problems than just getting tested. Hope he allows her to get it soon

  3. Aloha again
    I think I’ve got the rules for getting to Hawai’i from Ireland & U.K (Covid test 1 day prior to departure). Overnighting in LAX – Covid Test to be booked for departure to Kaua’i next day. So far, so good.
    Rules have just changed for return trip to London. Have to get a NAAT Test 2 days before return. (AAAgh!!!) So, can you help me. I will be staying on Oah’u for the conclusion of my vacation, so may I ask where I can get a test for travel?

    1. Hi Michael.

      If you do a search for Honolulu Covid testing, and then use the maps tap, you’ll get quite a long list, starting with the ubiquitous pharmacies. In the past when there was testing for interisland travel, another place that was mentioned favorably in comments was Hope that helps.


  4. I just received this notice from my timeshare
    All travelers to Hawaii must provide proof of negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure, HOWEVER, effective July 8, 2021, fully vaccinated travelers will not be required to take the pre-travel Covid test. Be sure to upload your test results or your vaccination card (whichever applies) into your Safe Travels account (required).
    I am vaccinated so I just need to download this into safe travels and I do not need to test?

    1. DEbI B… this is so old news. Your opening sentence caused panic for us until we read your whole post! Please be more considerate on what you post! Getting tested within 72 hours of travel is a logistical no formate for that we’ve been grateful to see pass. Your post caused panic!

  5. This has been helpful information
    My spouse and I are both in middle seventies. This technology is stressing me
    We are hoping to make it to granddaughter’s college graduation in December


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