What to Know About Traveling to Hawaii Right Now

The situation in Hawaii continues to change.

a tropical cabana overlooking the ocean
Hawaii is open. Don't act like a jerk. | Cristian Guerrero/Unsplash
Hawaii is open. Don't act like a jerk. | Cristian Guerrero/Unsplash

Wondering if it’s a good idea to travel to Hawaii right now? Think it over carefully. Sure, more than 70% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated, and the state is dropping its Safe Travels Hawaii program for domestic travelers (including the indoor mask mandate) as of March 26th, but there’s something else to keep in mind.

Hawaii has long struggled with overtourism, and the recent onslaught of visitors during the pandemic has residents and officials seriously concerned. Some islands have put restrictions in place to tamper the wave: Oahu is developing a tourism management plan that will cap the number of people allowed to enter, while Maui imposed a new 3% hotel tax. And now that restrictions are lifting, what second tourist surge will the islands see? Will “America’s tropical paradise” have to deal with more than its 2019 record of 10 million visitors?

Maybe. If you’re dead set on joining the masses and traveling to Hawaii, stay informed and be extra respectful. Kylie Shmida, Director of Experience at the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, said it best when we asked her for input on traveling during the pandemic: “Keeping the harmony that is part of Hawaii’s charm is important to us,” she said. “We greatly appreciate travelers who are respectful of current guidelines and have made it a priority to stay up to date on the island’s current regulations.”

So now, onto those guidelines.

What do I need to enter Hawaii?

Beginning March 26, 2022, there will be no COVID-related requirements for arriving domestic passengers. Still, if you plan on heading to the islands, getting and staying fully vaxxed is the right thing to do.

US citizens arriving from international destinations are only required to provide negative COVID test results received no more than one day prior to boarding a flight to Hawaii.

If you’re not a US citizen or permanent resident, you’ll need to show both negative COVID test results received no more than one day prior to boarding a flight to Hawaii (those under the age of two are exempt) and acceptable proof of vaccination to enter Hawaii. “Acceptable” is actually pretty lax—even a digital photo of your vaccine card or records will work, as long as they’re from an official source (public health agency, government agency, or another authorized vaccine provider).

Do I have to quarantine in Hawaii?

Nope. There are no official quarantine regulations for travel to and from Hawaii. Still, if you’re sick, self-isolate until a full 10 days after your symptoms began; if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, current CDC guidelines say to avoid travel until a full five days after your last close contact with that person. Whatever you do, play it safe, get tested, and don’t spread it.

Are there any other Hawaii entry requirements?

As of March 26th, 2022, the only requirements in place will be at the federal level for international travelers. At Hawaii airports, you may run into temperature checks via thermal temperature screening and facial-imaging technology. Your photo is temporarily retained if your temperature is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and above to help with identification and additional assessments.

Additionally, different islands have developed their own precautionary measures. Maui strongly recommends visitors download the AlohaSafe app, which sends you an alert if you’ve been exposed to COVID; they also encourage visitors to take a free, voluntary COVID test 72 hours after arrival (which you can sign up for here). Meanwhile, Kauai encourages visitors to undergo a COVID test three days after arrival. If you do so, you will be handsomely rewarded with a Kokua Kauai Card, which provides discounts at participating businesses.

Anything else?

Keep a mask on you: though they’re not mandatory indoors throughout Hawaii anymore, they are encouraged, including during large gatherings outside.

Otherwise, things are mostly business as usual. Beaches are open, as are parks. Maybe try hiking to a waterfall in Honolulu, or snorkeling with manta rays underwater. This is also one of the best places in the world to frolic in seclusion.

Whatever you do, keep Mālama in mind. That means “to care for”—the land, the sea, the wildlife, the people—and to be one of the visitors Hawaii is grateful to have. Leave no trace (trash, COVID germs, or otherwise), avoid overcrowded areas, and when you can, give back. It’s the least we can do, considering Hawaii gives away its beauty for free.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat!