Dreaming of Hawaii? Check out our travel tips to save you time and money.
Hawaii is a favorite destination for so many of us, so I thought this might be a great time to give you our tips for (relatively) stress free travel to Hawaii. We just returned from 11 fabulous days on Oahu, so our tips are timely.
If you are like us, when you think of Hawaii, you think of watching gorgeous sunsets framed by swaying palm trees while the scent of jasmine and plumeria waft through the air. Sigh. And after over 14 months at home, the thought of walking along the beach or eating macadamia nut chocolates from your lanai may sound like the perfect vacation.
To be honest, even though we LOVE Hawaii, we were a little concerned about 3 things: would the locals be welcoming tourists or feel fearful of us (just being real), could we get all the covid requirements done so we would be granted entry and not have to quarantine, and, finally, would we actually be able to pick up our rental car and at the price quoted.
The Aloha Spirit:
I am thrilled to announce that the Aloha spirit is alive and well! We were welcomed with great joy and appreciation from everyone we came in contact with, from airport personnel to restaurant servers, hotel employees (housekeeping staff to the various hotel executives we met with), from shop owners and tour operators. We had so many meaningful conversations with those who consider Hawaii their home and with our fellow travelers, sharing what the Lord had done for our families and what He had taught us this past year. There was a common sense of thanksgiving; numerous Hawaiian residents commented on God’s faithfulness to them during the past year and were eager to talk about all He taught them during their year-long lock down. There was a feeling of celebration at getting back to normal life and a definite feeling of gratitude and pride from the Hawaiians that tourists were returning to enjoy their island home. To God be the glory.
Covid-19 tests and avoiding those long lines at the airport:
During the time of our trip (mid- May, 2021), Hawaii was still requiring a negative Covid-19 test from an approved site within 72 hours of arrival. We were able to take our test at Walgreens; many locations are offering appointments with rapid results tests. We took our test on Saturday and had our negative results emailed to us within a couple of hours. Pro tip #1: make sure that the name you put on your test is EXACTLY the same as the name you travel under. (e.g. John’s travel docs are listed at John Barry Matthews Jr. so his covid test needed to have the exact same name.) Travelers to Hawaii were also required to fill out a mandatory State of Hawaii Travel and Health form on the Hawaii Safe Travels website, upload your results and fill out a questionnaire. When you complete all of that successfully, they give you a QR code.
We chose to fly on United as they had a Pre-Clearance Program that would allow us to skip the long line at the airport in Hawaii where they were checking documents. They had a special location near the boarding gate where they checked our QR code (the one assigned to us from the Hawaii website) and then gave us wrist bands to wear. When we arrived in Hawaii, we were able to walk right past the line that was at least (not kidding) 2 hours long. The airport personnel just looked at our wrist bands and waved us right through. Since we brought our luggage onboard, we were heading to our hotel within a few minutes of arrival. I have heard that several other airlines are offering some sort of Pre-Clearance but, since we have not personally experienced their service, I cannot comment on them. Pro tip #2: Book your flight to Hawaii using an airline that has a respected Pre-Clearance program; it will save you time and stress!
When we arrived at each of our hotels, as we checked in, we had to log into our account on the Safe Travel website and prove that we were exempt from quarantine. Once we did that, we were free to do whatever we wanted, as long as we wore masks, except with seated and dining, walking on the beach or sitting by the pool.
As I wrote earlier, there is a nationwide shortage of rental cars. This problem is especially severe in the Hawaiian Islands right now. John chose to make 2 reservations months ago with car companies that have programs where you can bypass the line and go right to your car- Avis (Avis Preferred) and National (The Emerald Aisle). We thought that would double our chances of getting a car and, since he booked early, not having to pay an exorbitant rate. It worked! We were able to pick the Avis car up (for some reason, John still had to stand in a short line rather than go right to the car) and we cancelled the second reservation with National.
So…was it worth it?
You might be thinking, “so, was it worth it?” Yes. Absolutely yes. We love Hawaii. It was great to walk on the beaches, watch sunsets with a Mai Tai in hand, and go paddle boarding and snorkeling. It was great to see families playing together and just doing normal things. It was great to eat yummy food in restaurants, shop for local treasures and support the great people of Hawaii. Hopefully, very soon, Hawaii will be changing their policies and making it easier to travel there but, even with all the complicated procedures, it was still totally worth it.
Questions about Hawaii or any other travel related questions? Please give us a call or email or text. We are here to help!
John and Jackie Matthews Adventure Awaits World Travel 817-865-3799
For up-to-the-minute information on travel to Hawaii and to find the forms you need to fill out before going, visit this state of Hawaii website: https://travel.hawaii.gov/#/