By way of introduction, Hawaii officially reopened on October 15 to visitors, together with a way to avoid the mandatory quarantine (was 14 days, now is 10 days). Since then, the rules that apply to visitors seem to be in a constant state of change, which, to say the least, can be challenging when planning a Hawaii vacation. To help, we plan to keep this post updated as things change, so check again for more information. This was last updated on January 19, 2021.
At this time there is no definitive word on when and how travel for those who have been vaccinated with begin. We will update that as soon as the state decides.
Travel to Hawaii starts with COVID testing.
The bottom line here is that you need to be sure that you test within 72 hours of your transpacific flight to Hawaii and that the Hawaii-approved partner you choose will reliably deliver results before your departure. Period. Costs flor testing are borne by the traveler and can vary from free to $250 per person. If you are testing by mail, start immediately at 72 hours since you need to return the test kit in time to have the results obtained before departure.
The state requires NAAT/PCR testing only, and nothing else is acceptable. Also, 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 prior to departure to avoid quarantine in Hawaii.”
Tip: At the end of this post, we have a list of all currently approved testing partners.
Follow all rules closely to avoid ending up in quarantine.
When first announced, Hawaii was more flexible about those who didn’t get test results on time, or even those who obtained them from the wrong source. Starting November 24, however, that changed. The state no longer makes any exceptions.
If anything goes wrong, you could end up having to leave Hawaii or enter the mandatory quarantine. Don’t let that dissuade you, however, as many visitors have come since then, and they 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.
Register for the Hawaii Safe Travels program.
All arrivals 18 and older need to register through the Hawaii Safe Travels online program. That is a mandatory requirement.
- Negative test results must be in hand and uploaded to the Safe Travels website before departure on your flight from the US mainland to Hawaii. If you have multiple flights, the time is based on the last one that ends with your landing in Hawaii.
- Mandatory health questionnaire must be added to your Safe Travels account within 24 hours before departure.
The minimum age for testing is age 5. All travelers 5 and above must have a COVID-19 test and negative results through one of the state’s trusted testing partners. Note that some trusted testing partners test all ages, and others do not.
Thermal scanning. All arriving Hawaii passengers must have thermal temperature checks with imaging technology on arrival.
The QR code for your mainland to Hawaii flight will be required for presentation on arrival, as will the QR code for any connecting flight within Hawaii. The QR code is obtained from the Safe Travels website.
Alaska Airlines’ Hawaii Pre-Clear. Alaska Airlines Hawaii passengers can be checked before departure for Hawaii instead of on arrival. The airline will verify your Safe Travel profile; you will be provided with a pre-clear wristband, which allows you to bypass airport arrival procedures in Hawaii. To date, this program has not been expanded to include other airlines.
Car rental companies and accommodations may also require you to present your Safe Travels QR code.
No cohesive statewide plan – so you must follow island-by-island rules.
Each of the counties, other than Honolulu/Oahu, has enacted separate and varying rules that have been approved by the governor. All islands are listed below, together with any special requirements.
Tip: For interisland passengers, those arriving on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island must have an approved test within 72 hours of arrival, which is nearly the same requirement as when coming to Hawaii from the US mainland.
Noting these differing rules will help avoid the frustration and confusion that some visitors have experienced.
Not surprisingly, Kauai has gone its own way entirely. Starting on December 2, Kauai enacted multiple confusing rules that made it much harder to visit than the other islands. Currently all arrivals, regardless of any negative test result, must quarantine for 10 days. There are two exceptions, however, to shorten that duration.
Two Exceptions: 1) Quarantine for 3-nights at a Kauai resort bubble property followed by a second test, or 2) stay 3-nights minimum on any other island, followed by a second test before flying to Kauai.
Furthermore, regarding resort bubbles only, Kauai states, “This (pre-travel) test can be any COVID-19 diagnostic test (antigen or PCR test) with emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 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.”
Big Island regulations.
In addition to the quarantine option, arriving that have approved test results on arrival are free of quarantine. A second, free rapid antigen test on arrival at the airport may be performed. For inter-island arrivals, a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival is required.
Maui (includes Lanai and Molokai) regulations.
Besides the quarantine option, Maui has been providing an optional free test three days after arrival on the island. For inter-island arrivals, a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival is required.
Maui now has ordered that arriving travelers use a mandatory contact tracing app. Full details and how to comply with this requirement are contained in this post. You must have this uploaded to your phone prior to departure to Maui.
No special requirements at this time other than the statewide ones listed above.
How does the Hawaii 10-day quarantine work?
For those considering quarantine, or just so you know what (as David B. called it) “hard-time” looks like here are the rules:
- You are required to stay at your hotel (no vacation rentals allowed), except to leave for the airport or obtain emergency medical treatment.
- Food and other supplies will need to be delivered, and you will not be permitted to go out for shopping or any other errands.
- Any hotel space outside your room is also prohibited, including pools, restaurants, beaches, and gyms.
- Hotels will provide you with a one-time entry key so that you may not leave your accommodation and return.
- You are not permitted to rent a car while you are in quarantine.
- Violation of quarantine requirements can result in a fine of up to $5,000 or up to now a year in jail.
Travelers with stopovers in Hawaii.
If your flight requires you to stop in Honolulu (or Maui) before transiting to one of the other islands, the negative test within 72 hours of departure for Hawaii will be accepted to your final destination.
Tip: If you have an actual layover on Oahu or another island, you will have to adhere to the additional testing requirements before proceeding to any island other than Honolulu.
Vaccination Passport Travel to Hawaii expected to start in Spring.
Currently on hold, while Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor says he thinks vaccination travel will now need to wait until Spring. It was to start in February. The state says it is awaiting results of a CDC report to confirm that those who have been vaccinated can still be carriers.
Read all the rules and how to obtain an exemption to allow you to travel here if you’ve recovered from COVID within the past three months.
Mainland to Hawaii trusted testing partners.
Hawaii trusted testing partners – medical/pharmacy.
American Family Care (AFC)
American Samoa Department of Health
Bartell Drugs (suspended temporarily)
CityHealth Urgent Care
Clarity Lab Solutions
Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation
Discovery Health MD
Guam Department of Public Health Social Services
GoHealth Urgent Care
Kaiser Permanente (members only)
University Medical Center of Southern Nevada
UC San Diego Health
University of Washington Medicine
Airlines/airports and their trusted testing partners.
Interisland travel trusted testing partners
Clinical Laboratories of Hawaii
CVS Health (Longs Drugs)
Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DLS)
Hawaii Pacific Health
Kaiser Permanente (members only)
National Kidney Foundation of Hawai‘i’s Consortium
S&G Labs Hawaii LLC
Urgent Care Hawaii
Canada to Hawaii trusted testing partners
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