Traveling to Hawaii During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

Hawaii “Reopened” to Visitors on October 15, 2020

(Article Updated Oct 16, 2020)**
**Note: Every effort has been made to provide information that is current and accurate. Nevertheless, inadvertent errors in information may occur. The information contained in this website has been compiled from a variety of sources, and is subject to change at any time without notice. Big Island Guide gives no assurance or warranty that information on this site is current and accurate, and we take no responsibility for matters arising from changed circumstances or other information or material which may affect the currency or accuracy of information on this site.

Hawaii is working to keep our community safe while trying to find the safest way to welcome visitors back to the Aloha State. With current health concerns due to Covid-19, there are significant travel restrictions and visitors have not been able to easily experience the wonder of a Hawaii vacation. In March, the Governor enacted a 14 day quarantine on all visitors arriving in the state in an attempt to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. While this quarantine is still in effect, visiting Hawaii is about to get easier. Starting on October 15th, Hawaii is allowing Mainland travelers who test negative for Covid-19 to enter Hawaii without having to quarantine. Please make sure to follow the state’s procedure to get your pre-arrival test and fill out the appropriate paperwork before you come.

Government Mandates for Flights into Hawaii and Testing Out

Hawaii has a mandatory 14 Day Quarantine in effect for Mainland, Inter-Island,  and International travel. Starting October 15th, Hawaii is allowing most travelers to “test out” of the quarantine. Those travelers who test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before arriving, fill out the required paperwork, and clear a temperature test upon arrival, will be allowed to enter Hawaii without having to quarantine.

Hawaii is requiring a specific test from a certified laboratory for entry, it is an FDA-approved NAAT tests, processed by a CLIA-certified laboratory currently approved by the State of Hawai’i. The State will only accept test results from their trusted testing and travel partners, so double check that your test and testing facility qualify. An antibody or antigen test will NOT be accepted. Unfortunately, if you take the wrong test, you will be required to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival. Several airlines are setting up mainland centers that will administer the appropriate test, so contact your airline to see if they have a testing option in your area. Plan ahead as testing availability and timing is different everywhere. The pre-arrival test will NOT be available at Hawaii airports or once you arrive, you must test at home no more than three days before traveling. If you travel to Hawaii without a pre-arrival test, you will be subject to the 14 day quarantine.

TRUSTED TESTING AND TRAVEL PARTNERS (As of 10/6/20 from HI County Website)

  • AFC Urgent Care
  • Carbon Health
  • CityHealth Urgent Care
  • CVS Health
  • Discovery Health MD
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Quest Diagnostics
  • Vault Health and Walgreens

*NOTE* Just Hawaii County (aka: The Big Island / Hawaii Island) will also require a rapid test at the airport that they will administer at no cost to you. You must have the pre-arrival test and this second test come back negative to be released from the quarantine.

Here is a link to the Hawaii Covid 19 Website and the Hawaii Tourism Authority Information on this topic.

Inter-Island Flights

OCT 15th UPDATE – Currently Hawaii Island is not allowing Inter-Island travelers to test out of the 14 day quarantine. The Hawaii Island Mayor, Harry Kim has decided not to allow inter-island travelers to test out of the quarantine at this time. If you fly into the Big Island after visiting a Neighbor island (not just a stop over in the airport) you will have to quarantine. Our Mayor and his past work with the Civil Defense makes him one of the more cautious politicians in Hawaii. This is leading to extra precautions being taken on the Big Island, causing a lot of confusion and requiring navigating a bit more red tape for those visiting the Big Island. Hopefully it will also help keep the island from experiencing severe outbreaks of the virus.

If you are planning to travel between islands, check with the airlines to see what restrictions are in place at the time of travel, this is changing constantly, so be prepared for possible cancellations, or quarantines. If the inter-island quarantine is in effect when you fly between islands: you will be subject to the 14 day quarantine unless a test out is allowed for the island you are arriving on at that time.

What Rules are in Place when you get to Hawaii

Hawaii’s mandates are all about slowing the spread of Covid 19. Governor David Ige has updated the state of Hawaii Covid status to the third phase “Act with Care” this allows most businesses to reopen and loosens restrictions on most activities. All low and medium risk businesses have been allowed to reopen across Hawaii, with mask and social distancing guidelines in place. Watch current local notices as the individual island Mayors may require various businesses and beaches to close if Covid numbers increase too much.

The primary things to know for the visiting public are the requirements to wear masks in public spaces, to social distance from anyone not in your immediate household, to wash hands and use hand sanitizer when entering stores, and to keep group gatherings at less than ten people. Masks are 100% required to enter stores, shops, restaurants, and all businesses, but are not required when sitting at a table actively eating or drinking, when at the beach (as long as you are 6 feet from other groups), or when walking or exercising outdoors.

If you’re coming to visit, please be respectful and wear your mask. Please don’t fight this simple request. Hawaii has a much different culture than you are likely coming from. Please understand that most families (Ohana) here live in larger, multi generational groups. This means we must be particularly cautious so that our elders (Kapuna) are not exposed. We have watched as other parts of the country fight over this simple issue, and we would prefer not to have those problems brought here. We are opening our doors to you, but we ask that you please help us keep everyone safe.

• For the most up-to-date information from Governor Ige – Click Here
• For the Safe Travels Sign up – Click Here
• For information specific to Hawaii County (the Big Island) – Click Here

14 Day Quarantine Information

The quarantine means that visitors must remain in their rooms for most or all of their vacation, therefore travelers are strongly urged to get a pre-arrival COVID-19 test to “test out”. The quarantine orders are strict and are being enforced by local law enforcement. For those flying to Hawaii without a test, what does the 14-day self quarantine mean?

• You must provide your lodging and contact info to the authorities
• You must proceed directly from the airport to your lodgings with no stops along the way
• You must stay inside your lodging/hotel room for the entire 14 days
• You are not allowed to use shared facilities such as pools, spas, gyms, restaurants, or bars
• You must get someone to deliver food and necessities to your door or order room service or delivery
• You can not go outside or to public places such as grocery stores, shopping centers, or local attractions
• You can not have visitors inside your lodging
• You can only leave your lodging for emergency reasons or to receive medical care
• You will be monitored to check on your health and your location regularly
• Violating the rules can land you in jail, get you expelled from the state, or get you a $5,000 fine

Hawaii Covid-19 Infection Situation

Hawaii’s infection and death rate are still relatively low and we are using CDC guidelines to keep our numbers mostly in check on the Big Island. As of Oct 14, 2020, the State of Hawaii had 13,834 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 182 deaths. 1003 of those confirmed cases were on Hawaii Island.

Flights to Hawaii

**Note** These are preliminary announcements, therefore routes and dates may change, please check with the airline for availability.

Few flights have landed at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport since late March of 2020, when the travel quarantine took effect. Delta Airlines maintained a four times weekly service to Kona from LA and several airlines offered a limited schedule of inter-island flights. With the recent news of the new visitor testing option, several Airlines have announced their plans to reinstate their Trans-Pacific flights between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii.

Hawaiian Airlines plans to resumed service between Honolulu and Portland and will add daily service to San Diego and Sacramento soon.
There will also be nonstop service between Honolulu and Boston, Las Vegas, New York, Oakland, Phoenix, and San Jose once the test out option is in place. In addition, Hawaiian Airlines will resume a direct flight between Kona and Los Angeles, increase inter-island flights, and provide weekly service to American Samoa at that time.

United Airlines will start offering nonstop service between San Francisco and Kona four times per week and will increase that service to twice daily once the test out option is in place. They will also offer daily service between LA and Kona and four times per week service between Denver and Kona. Three flights will be offered weekly between San Francisco and Hilo as well.

Southwest Airlines plans to return to their full pre-Covid flight schedule once the test out option is in place. There will be a daily flight between Kona and Kahului, four daily flights between Honolulu and Kona, and four daily flights between Honolulu and Hilo. They will also offer once daily service between both San Jose and Oakland to Kona, as well as adding a new daily nonstop service between San Diego and Honolulu. They will also add more daily flights between Honolulu to Maui and Kauai.

American Airlines plans to resume flights, but has not announced their schedule yet. Alaska and Delta Airlines have not announced their plans yet.

What’s Open In Hawaii Now

All low and medium risk businesses have been allowed to reopen. The following is not an exhaustive list of what’s open, but covers most of the businesses you may need while visiting. These classifications don’t mean every business in this category is open, just that they are allowed to reopen by the state.
Grocery Stores
Gas Stations
Transportation Businesses
Restaurants (limited capacity)
Bars & Night Clubs (limited capacity & hours)
Hotels and Motels
Vacation Rentals (for those not under quarantine)
Personal Care businesses
Gyms and Fitness clubs
Retail Stores
Most Tour and Activity Providers (limited capacity)
Most Beaches and Beach Parks (occasional closures during virus peaks)
Healthcare services
Financial Institutions
Mail and Shipping
National and State parks are partially reopened

What’s Still Closed In Hawaii

Higher risk businesses such as indoor and outdoor event venues and road races are still not allowed to fully reopen.


Hotels and Motels are allowed to operate but, due to travel restrictions, many have chosen to remain closed during the quarantine period and are not accepting reservations until the “test-out” option is functional. (Most have now announced a Nov 1st date for reopening.) If you need further details, please contact the specific property directly. If you are traveling from outside the state without a test-out, you will need to complete a 14 day quarantine. Hotel staff are being asked to monitor visitors for quarantine violations.

Short-term vacation rentals (such as VRBO/Airbnb/Private Condos) on the Big Island are allowed to host those who aren’t under quarantine. Local residents, those who have completed quarantine, or those who have tested out can stay in vacation rentals. Under the Governor’s Proclamation, if a guest breaks quarantine, the host can be arrested or fined as well as the quarantine breaker, whether or not they knew of the guest’s actions. So please do not come to Hawaii with the intention of breaking quarantine, it will put both you and your host in danger of legal action.

Attractions and Activities

Most visitor attractions and activities have limited availability or are just reopening. Call the specific business to see if they are operating.

Island of Hawaii Events

All large gatherings and major events have been canceled or rescheduled for later in the year (see the list below).

• Kona Brewers Festival – Canceled – Rescheduled for March 13, 2021
• Big Island Chocolate Festival – Postponed until May 2021
• Ironman 70.3 – Postponed until Nov 21, 2020
• Kona Coffee Cultural Festival – Postponed until November 5­–14, 2021
• Kuauli Pacific & Asia Cultural Festival – Changed to a virtual event on Sept 11-13, 2020
• Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon – Canceled – Rescheduled for March 28, 2021
• Merrie Monarch Festival – Canceled – Rescheduled for 2021
• Ironman World Championship – Canceled – Rescheduled for Oct 2021

We will update this article when new information becomes available.

~ A Hui Hou

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