- If you’re planning a trip to Maui, be aware of COVID- and weather-related advisories.
- Keep reading for important advisory details as you prepare to explore Maui.
- Visit Insider’s hub for travel guides, tips, and recommendations.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned traveling to Hawaii on its head, and as the pandemic has evolved, so have the restrictions to fly into Hawaii. The state implemented the Safe Travels Hawaii program to help visitors enjoy the island (or residents return home) while also mitigating the spread of the virus.
As someone who lives in Hawaii and has made recent trips to and from the state, I suggest planning ahead and double-checking that you have your test results and documents ready by the time you need to leave, as the process can be frustrating and slow. Please also note that Hawaii still currently has an indoor-mask mandate, as of publishing.
Currently, in order to enter the state of Hawaii, passengers from the US mainland need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative pre-travel test in order to bypass a five-day mandatory quarantine using its online Safe Travels portal.
Keep in mind that all testing and quarantine costs are at your own expense, so work that into your budget accordingly.
If you’re arriving in Hawaii from an international location, you would follow the US federal process for safe travel.
If you’re vaccinated
Regardless of your origin, you’ll need to upload your vaccine-card information to the Safe Travels online platform before your flight. At the gate, depending on your airline, you may be prescreened and receive a wristband to walk through to baggage claim when you arrive in Hawaii.
Otherwise, you’ll have to check in with your documents as if you’re checking into customs, which means you might have quite a long wait. And note that vaccinations only count as valid after 14 days following your second dose.
If you’re unvaccinated
According to the Safe Travels website, you’ll have to take a COVID-19 test “within 72 hours from the final leg of departure,” which means that if you’re departing from Los Angeles to Hawaii on January 15, 2022, for example, you’d have to show test results from January 12 or later.
If you’re flying from New York to San Francisco and then to Hawaii, you would go with your San Francisco departing flight time in PST. Upload your test results to the Safe Travels platform as a pdf or print it out and have it in hand for your flight.
Children under 5 years old do not have to take the test. Safe Travels will only accept tests from these healthcare partners, so do your research before booking just any test.
If you choose not to take a test, or your test is positive, you will have to be quarantined for 10 days or the length of your stay, whichever is shorter, in a hotel, motel, or your home — an Airbnb or vacation rental is not allowed.
You also won’t be allowed to rent a car and will need to have groceries and other supplies delivered to you. If you break quarantine, you may be fined. The Department of Health will check in on you via your hotel or your personal number and email.
Here are some tips for smooth travel from the US mainland to Hawaii and vice versa:
- Always pack a pen when you’re heading to Hawaii. Each group of passengers must fill out an agricultural form, which is given to you on your flight. Airlines don’t always have enough pens for passengers, so to avoid having to ask someone to borrow their pen, remember to keep one in your carry-on.
- The ecosystem is fragile, so there are certain items you can’t bring into the state from the US mainland, particularly plants and produce (unless you bought it in the airport after TSA check-in). Read more about restricted items here.
- Bringing your pet to accompany you on your Hawaiian vacation is tricky, as the state has strict laws regarding animals. If you don’t have the necessary vaccinations for your pet, they’ll be held in quarantine at the airport. In my opinion, it’s not worth it, but you can learn more here.
What’s the best time to visit Hawaii?
Many people say we don’t have seasons in Hawaii since it never gets that cold, but we do have two — summer and winter.
Our winter is mild, but the weather might impact your trip. The temperatures are typically chillier, going down to the mid- or low-60s Fahrenheit at night, and the days might be windy or rainy, meaning some hikes could be too muddy.
The winter also impacts ocean swells and currents, making some beaches, typically on the north shore, unsuitable for swimming and better for advanced surfing. For instance, Honolua Bay is calm in the summer and good for snorkeling; in the winter, it’s dangerous for regular beachgoers but becomes a surfing hotspot.