Covid-19 Travel Update: Traveling to Big Island? Here's What You Need to Know.
This article was originally published on 10/20/2020 and has since been updated.
After months of shutdown, travelers can begin boarding flights headed to Hawaii without having to undergo a 10-day quarantine when they arrive. Of course, Hawaii's reopening comes with caveats, mainly that travelers must prove a negative Covid-19 test result upon arrival in Hawaii (more on that below). The roll out of the pre-travel testing program has some travelers confused and information surrounding the program is changing daily. Here we've outlined everything you need to know pre and post arrival to help you plan a stress-free and safe vacation to Big Island.
Step One, Get Tested
The first, and arguably most important thing you must do before boarding your flight is get a Covid-19 test. But not any test or testing center will suffice. Here's what you need to know about the test:
- Test must be a administered by a trusted partner. Find a list of partners here.
- Test must be taken within 72 hours of departure. Tests that are taken prior to the 72 hour window are invalid.
- You must get a FDA Authorized Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT). Other sorts of tests do not qualify for the program and will result in a 10-day quarantine.
You probably have some questions -- no worries! We're here to help. Here are some FAQ's about the pre-travel test.
1) What if I take a test within 72 hours but don't get the results back before I arrive to the Big Island?
Then you must quarantine for 10-days. You must present proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival in the islands. If you get your test results while quaratining and they are negative, you are still subject to the remainder of your 10-day quarantine.
2) What if I take a test and the result is positive?
Then you should not travel to Hawaii. In fact, if you do, you can be arrested upon arrival.
3) What if I take a different type of test -- not the NAAT test?
Then you will have to quarantine for 10 days or the length of your stay.
4) What if I get a negative test result from a facility that's not a trusted partner?
Then you will have to quarantine for 10 days or the length of your stay.
5) Do children need to take a test too?
Yes, children 5 and older need to prove a negative test result to forgo the 10-day quarantine. Please note that not all testing facilities will test children, confirm with your testing facility before making an appointment.
6) What if I don't get a test prior to departure?
Then you must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
7) Can I take a test when I get to Hawaii?
No, Hawaii will not administer tests for travelers to bypass the mandatory 10-day quarantine. The test must be taken prior to departure.
Step Two, Register for Safe Travels Hawaii
Now that you're tested and ready to travel to Hawaii, you must register for the Safe Travels program here. After you've registered, and within 24-hours of your departure, login to you account to fill out the online questionaire. This is mandatory -- you will have to prove that you've filled this out upon arrival to Hawaii. You should also upload your Covid-19 test results to the website. If you're having trouble uploading your test results, but you received a negative result, bring them with you in hand and you can get a quarantine exemption. We recommend bringing them with you just in case.
Travel to Hawaii
Congrats! You've completed the above steps and you're on your way to Hawaii. During your travels, it's recommended that you:
- Wear a mask on your flight.
- Socially-distance when possible.
- Wash your hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently.
Post-Arrival at Airport
If you are traveling to the Big Island then you might be required to take a second Covid-19 test upon arrival to the airport. The Big Island is testing 25% of incoming travelers the day they arrive at the airport. The test will be a rapid antigen test that will be administered free of cost at both Hilo International Airport and Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport. You will receive test results within 15-20 minutes. Here are some FAQ's about the post-arrival testing program on the Big Island.
1) Do I need to take a second test at the airport even if I got a negative test result from a trusted partner prior to departure?
If you are selected, yes. Big Island is testing 25% of visitors and returning residents upon arrival in Hawaii as an extra layer of protection against Covid-19.
2) What if I get a positive test result?
If you get a positive test result you'll then take a PCR test for a more accurate result. You must quarantine as you await those results. If that test comes back negative you're free to bypass the 10-day quarantine. If the test comes back positive you must quarantine for 10 days.
3) What if I get a negative test result?
You're free to bypass the 10-day quarantine.
4) What if I refuse to take a second test?
You'll be required to quarantine for 10 days or the duration of your stay.
5) What if I am fully vaccinated?
If you are fully vaccinated you can skip the post-arrival test with proof of a vaccination that was completed two weeks prior to arrival in Hawaii. Learn more here.
For more information on the post arrival test, click here.
In addition, upon arrival to the airport on Hawaii Island you’ll undergo a temperature check and have to confirm you’ve filled out the Safe Travels questionnaire by showing an airport representative the QR code confirmation you received when this form was completed.
During Your Vacation on Big Island
Although Hawaii has reopened to tourists, the state is still dealing with the ongoing pandemic. Many businesses, attractions and hotels remain closed. Here's a list of major attractions that have reopened on Big Island to help make your trip planning easier.
Major Attractions on Big Island that are Closed
- Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm
- Panaewa Zoo
- Imiloa Astronomy Center
- Mauna Kea Visitor Information Center
- Tropical Botanical Garden
- Laupahoehoe Train Museum
- Anna Ranch
- Lapakahi State Park
Major Attractions on Big Island that are Open
- Volcanoes National Park - some parts of the park are closed, Thurston Lava Tube has recently reopened
- Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park - some parts of the park are closed on certain days
- Big Island Bees
- Limahuli Gardens
- Pu'uhonua Historic Park
- Umauma Falls
- St. Benedict’s Painted Church - open Tues, Wed and Thurs from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
- Punaluu Black Sand Beach
- Kau Coffee - open for take out only
- Akatsuka Orchid Gardens - open limited hours
- Onomea Trail
- Akaka Falls - open but the gates are closed, park outside and walk in
- Waipio Valley Overlook
- Keck Visitor Center
- Waimea Nature Park
- Queen Liliuokalani Park
- Rainbow Falls
- Kaumana Caves
- Puukohola Heiau
- Pololu Valley
You Should Also Know
It’s also important to note that there is currently a mask mandate for the state of Hawaii. It is mandatory to wear a mask on every island while in public. Please remember to pack masks for your visit.
We’re thrilled to welcome you back to Hawaii, but as we do, please remember to practice aloha to keep yourself and the community safe. You can do this by wearing your mask in public, respecting the current protocols in place by each island, and practicing social distancing. For more on how to keep yourself and Hawaii safe, watch this video here.
We'll update this post periodically as more information becomes available. For more information on Hawaii's pre-travel testing program click here.