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Hawaii Reopens to Tourism

Things to know about visiting a reopening Hawaii

Pre-Travel Testing Program begins October 15th**

Last Updated: September 27, 2020, at 12 pm HST

Undoubtedly, many visitors have been keeping a close eye on Hawaii and its process of reopening to visitors and tourists. Since late March, there has been a 14-day Hawaii quarantine, and there's some good news on that front. Hawaii will now be relaxing the mandatory 14-day quarantine policy as of Thursday, October 15, 2020, allowing travelers to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test instead. That's 18 days from today and counting...

As you may know, Hawaii residents have sacrificed a great deal to keep their communities safe during this pandemic and, in doing so, have achieved one of the lowest COVID-19 case rates and lowest virus transmission rates of any state in the nation. Now that visitors can once again enjoy Hawaii's remarkable natural beauty, incredible open spaces, unique experiences and signature hospitality, the state of Hawaii is asking for your kokua (help) to join in the efforts to keep Hawaii safe.

John Derrick
Published on: 09-27-2020
Published by: John C. Derrick

Summary of topics discussed on this page. Click any link to drop down to that specific question.

Additionally, visitors may be interested in reading our Hawaii Travel Restrictions & Requirements article.

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Here’s everything you need to know:

Do you have to test for COVID-19 to visit Hawaii?

The pre-testing travel program, beginning October 15th, effectively opens up the islands to visitors, as long as they bring along proof of a negative COVID-19 test and complete a State Dept. of Agriculture paper form (distributed on all flights) prior to arrival within the state.

Travelers who, upon entry into the state, provide written confirmation from a state-approved COVID-19 testing facility of a negative test result from a test administered to the traveler within 72 hours from the final leg of departure, will be able to bypass Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine order. A "state-approved COVID-19 test" means a test to determine the presence of active COVID-19 infection that has been approved for use under these rules by the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH). Currently approved is the processing by laboratories that are licensed or certified by Clinical Laboratories Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of specimens for nucleic acid amplification (NAAT) testing approved or authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration, pursuant to an Emergency Use Authorization or other authorization for COVID-19 testing. This is an update from the previous policy, and we've updated our verbiage due to official updates by the state of Hawaii announced on 9/23/20.

To reiterate, this test result must be confirmed prior to arrival in Hawaii, and the visitor must present evidence of this test upon arrival. According to the Lt. Governor, more testing options may become available before October 15th. See our traveler FAQ section below for more information.

  • The testing expense will be the responsibility of the traveler and no testing will be available upon arrival at the airports in Hawaii. If a visitor accidentally takes the wrong test, the traveler will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
  • Travelers will be able to upload their negative test result when they complete their travel and health forms on the Safe Travels digital system: travel.hawaii.gov 
  • If a visitor's test results are not available at the time of arrival, the visitor must quarantine until the test results are received.
  • All travelers of all ages subject to pre-test requirements.
  • CVS and Kaiser Permanente (members only) are both approved trusted testing partners for the required state-approved test. If you cannot access one of these trusted partners, you can check the CDC website for information on where you can be tested in your local area. Results from any FDA-authorized test, processed by a CLIA certified lab taken within 72 hours from the final leg of departure are acceptable.
  • Travelers (returning residents and visitors) are not able to test upon arrival in Hawaii because this is a pre-travel testing program.
  • The Hawaii State Dept. of Agriculture paper form continues to be distributed to passengers during flights and is still required to be completed prior to arrival.
  • The pre-test is one part of a multi-layered screening process, including arrival temperature checks, completion of the State Travel and Health form, and secondary screening at the airport, with trained healthcare staff, for those with symptoms or temperatures of 100.4 degrees or higher. Upon arrival, all travelers will undergo a temperature scan at their arrival gate. Travelers with temperatures of 100.4 and above will be taken to secondary screening by trained health personnel.
  • If the traveler has a printout of their negative result and has not yet uploaded it on the Safe Travels digital system, airport screeners upon arrival will take a photo of the hard-copy negative test result.
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Recent Traveler FAQs & Clarifications

Is it an FDA-Authorized OR FDA-Approved NAAT Test?

We wanted to post this to provide clarification to visitors that the test needed 72-hours before arrival is an FDA-Authorized test, and not FDA-approved; there is currently no such thing as the latter (as of 9/19/20). This detail has been posted erroneously on multiple websites, including official sources, and we also mistakenly posted this incorrectly as well. We apologize for the error and wanted to ensure we clarified this to visitors.

72-hours prior to arrival OR prior to departure?

On 9/23/20, the state has officially updated their wording on this. According to the official sources we're relying on (the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) and the State of Hawaii's State Department of Health COVID-19 Resource page) the negative result must be "administered to the traveler within 72 hours from the final leg of departure". We've updated the wording throughout our website to reflect this update.

Do I need a NAAT, PCR, or a Saliva-based test?

The state has also updated, as of 9/23/20, their wording on the test requirements for entry into Hawaii. For visitors seeking to know which type of COVID-19 test will be approved as a pre-travel test. Here is the official response from the Hawaii State DOH on the "state-approved" testing requirements: "A 'state-approved COVID-19 test' means a test to determine the presence of active COVID-19 infection that has been approved for use under these rules by the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH). Currently approved is the processing by laboratories that are licensed or certified by Clinical Laboratories Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of specimens for nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) approved or authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pursuant to an Emergency Use Authorization or other authorization for COVID-19 testing."

That said, we're not medical experts and cannot provide medical advice or clarify the technical distinction between many of the different types of COVID-19 tests. However, at this point in time, the wording above is the most precise information we have to share with potential visitors. However, we do want to note that KHON 2 News is also reporting that Lt. Governor Josh Green has said that more testing options may be available by October 15th. The lieutenant governor says, "that includes rapid tests with results within minutes and saliva tests ideal for children." You can read the full story here. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and update this page accordingly with verified information from official state sources.

Details of how the pre-travel testing program works for travelers. Source: State of Hawaii.

Details of how the pre-travel testing program works for travelers. Source: State of Hawaii.

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Beach in Kihei, Maui

Do you have to Quarantine upon arriving in Hawaii?

If a visitor is not able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test received, at most, 72 hours from the final leg of departure to Hawaii, then they would be required to quarantine for 14 days, or however long they remain on the island, whichever is shorter in duration. This rule is in effect for ALL visitors until October 31, 2020.

  • If a traveler's test results are not available by the time of their arrival, quarantine will be necessary until their test results are received.
  • For visitors who refuse the 14-day quarantine, the passenger must make arrangements to leave the island immediately without leaving the airport.
  • People who are required to self-quarantine for 14 days must designate a hotel or motel as their designated quarantine location.
  • No person who is subject to the mandatory self-quarantine is allowed to stay in a short-term or vacation rental.
  • Additionally, operations that rent vehicles may not rent to any person who is subject to a 14-day traveler quarantine order unless an exemption is granted.

Violation of the quarantine is a misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than one year, or both. Enforcement will be handled by each of Hawaii’s four counties.

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Click to Visit Safe Travels Program

Hawaii 'Safe Travels' Program

  • The State of Hawaii's new online Safe Travels program is mandatory for all travelers, beginning September 1, 2020.
  • This program, which collects the required health and travel information, is critical to protecting the health of residents and visitors alike.
  • For common questions or other issues with the 'Safe Travels' application, visitors can click here.
Recommendations & Process
  • Travelers are encouraged to enter their information and trip details well in advance of their flight.
  • Once their health information is entered 24 hours before departure, travelers receive a QR code via email.
  • The QR code on their mobile device OR printed on paper gets scanned by the airport screener upon arrival.

For more information, see the Safe Travels program section on our 'Hawaii Travel Restrictions' page.

Will there be testing available in Hawaii?

No, all visitors must have received a negative COVID-19 test, typically performed using a nasal swab, no more than 72 hours from the final leg of departure before arriving in Hawaii. This applies to visitors of all ages.

For visitors who cannot provide evidence of a negative test result upon arrival in Hawaii, the 14-day quarantine will remain in effect after October 15, 2020.

If the quarantine is refused, the passenger must make arrangements to leave the island immediately without leaving the airport.

Where can I be tested locally before visiting?

Currently approved trusted testing partners are: CVS and Kaiser Permanente (members only). Trusted testing partners are entities that understand exactly what the State requires in terms of this program. Additionally, the state will accept test results from other sources so long as they meet the testing parameters set forth by the DOH, which are an FDA-authorized test that is processed by a CLIA certified lab. If a traveler cannot use one of the trusted partners, they can check the CDC website for information on where they can be tested in their local area.

Remember, you must provide written confirmation from a state approved COVID-19 testing facility of a negative test result upon entry into Hawaii. Travelers will be able to upload their negative test result when they complete their travel and health forms on the Safe Travels digital system, found at travel.hawaii.gov

Will antibody testing results be accepted?

No! An antibody test will NOT be accepted by the state of Hawaii as part of the pre-travel testing program.

Do I need a doctor’s order to get the test?

This varies by location. Please check with your doctor or review the health requirements in your area. Currently approved trusted testing partners are: CVS and Kaiser Permanente. Trusted testing partners are entities who understand exactly what the State requires in terms of this program. Additionally, the state will accept test results from other sources so long as they meet the testing parameters set forth by the DOH.

Who is responsible for the test cost?

Each visitor is responsible for paying for their own test and all costs included for such tests. We want to stress again, this test must be done prior to arriving in Hawaii.

We've attempted to research the pricing for these tests, but the results are pretty varied based on several factors - including your location, whether your insurance covers the cost, whether you're showing any symptoms (and thus can actually get a test or not), etc. We recognize the fact that there is a lot of confusion around the test timeline and how to actually acquire a test if you're not showing any signs of illness (this stipulation seems to vary by geographic location). We will continue to provide updates on this page as clarity is provided to us by both the Governor of Hawaii and/or the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

We encourage you to also sign up for updates on our mailing list using the form below; we are currently sending about two updates per month to subscribers on that list as new information becomes available to us.

Ultimately, at this time we believe most visitors can expect to pay around $90 to $200 when opting to pay for this test out-of-pocket themselves; IF they can actually get a test in their location. Again, that's a very rough estimate and your experience with the test pricing may vary based on location and other factors (insurance, etc.)

CVS & Kaiser Partnership Update
As of 9/16/2020

Hawaii has now set up partnerships with Kaiser Permanente and CVS Pharmacy, who will be updating their websites for Hawaii travelers now that the state has a firm date (10/15/2020). Lt. Gov. Josh Green recently said, "most tests will cost $120 to $140 per person, but Kaiser might make the test free for its members." We will post more information on this new testing partnership as it becomes available.

Please contact us if you have had a different experience with testing costs so we can share the details with other travelers. We've heard from several future visitors already who are having problems with determining the test pricing locally, actually getting a test in the proper timeline, etc. We'll continue to update this page as information becomes available to us.

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Waikiki & Diamond Head, Oahu

Are facemasks required in Hawaii?

At this time, everyone must wear face masks in all Hawaii airports and when entering places of business in Hawaii. If you are not able to practice social distancing, you should also wear a facemask while in Hawaii.

Each county may have its own rules, so be sure to check the county links below:

Of course, ultimately mask-wearing in public is encouraged in Hawaii and is considered a sign of showing Aloha for others.

What about inter-island travel?

The inter-island travel quarantine will be re-instated as of August 11, 2020, as declared in the 11th Emergency Proclamation by Governor David Ige.

During an afternoon news conference, Governor Ige announced he has decided that he will approve the inter-island travel quarantine only for travelers arriving on the counties of Kauai, Hawaii, Maui, and Kalawao (Molokai), and Lanai. This does not affect arrivals on Oahu. Please see our Hawaii Travel Restrictions page for more information.

The quarantine requirement applies to any person traveling to the islands of Kauai, Maui, or Hawaii (Big Island). The period of self-quarantine will begin immediately upon arrival and last 14 days or the duration of the person’s stay on the island, whichever is shorter.

  • The CURRENT inter-island quarantine continues through at least September 30th, unless it is terminated or extended by a separate proclamation.

What is Hawaii doing to encourage tourism?

Hawaii’s economy is, for better or worse, heavily reliant on tourism. The longstanding quarantine rules that began in late March 2020 have resulted in widespread unemployment across the islands, which is undoubtedly one of the motivating factors behind the phased reopening. 

Having originally announced on June 24th its intention to allow a pre-testing travel program as of August 1st, on July 13th, the state had to postpone the opening date until September 1, and then a second time until October 1, 2020, and finally postpone a third time until October 15, 2020.

At this time, there are no plans to cover COVID-19-related medical or quarantine costs for travelers who may incur those expenses during their trip.

Visitors should know that Hawaii’s visitor industry continues to maintain the highest standards for sanitation and has taken additional steps to enhance its efforts at hotels, attractions, restaurants, and other public spaces across the Hawaiian Islands to prevent the spread of infectious diseases amongst residents and visitors. The industry is also taking continued steps to educate its workforce on practicing good hygiene at home and on the job.

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Kalalau Trail, Kauai

What to expect if you travel to Hawaii

Across much of the Hawaiian islands, normal life has resumed with physical distancing rules in place, some capacity restrictions, and mask-wearing is encouraged. Beaches, outdoor attractions, and restaurants across the state have opened for business in this fashion***.

As of late May, outdoor tour operators have also been allowed to resume operating, while state parks have also been gradually reopening in May and June. The majority of hotels have also either already opened or will be accepting reservations as of October 15th

At this time, large-scale events and festivals are still not permitted and have mostly been canceled throughout the summer/fall of 2020. Some tour operators have also informed us they are waiting until the late-fall to re-open (November-ish or later).

Everyone must continue to wear facial masks when entering places of business and as outlined in the governor’s Emergency Rules.

***The four Hawaii counties have different and varying guidelines, details by island:

Stay Informed About Hawaii COVID-19 Info

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Visiting Hawaii

Upcoming Months of Travel

We think it is safe to say that any month of the year you will not be disappointed when you visit the Hawaiian islands. Here's an overview of what to expect in the coming months. Not sure when to visit? Read about the Best Month to Visit, where we present an overview of each month OR take the quiz on our Best Time to Visit Hawaii page.

Information Disclaimer: Details and information on this page, including dates, may change on a day-by-day basis. While we will be making every effort to keep these pages relevant and up to date, the decision to travel is ultimately your own responsibility. Please travel safely and keep an eye on our Special Alerts page for more information regarding COVID-19 and re-opening in Hawaii.