Hawaii’s travel ban ended in the fall of 2020, and officially restarted travel back in mid-October. But months later, getting in isn’t as easy as it once was – and the rules are continually changing.
Hawaii has stopped making all travelers quarantine upon arrival so long as they present a recent negative COVID-19 test – welcome news for anyone hoping to return to the islands. But scan through Hawaii travel restrictions at the Hawaii State Department of Health regulations, and working out exactly what will be required to enter isn’t easy.
But it’s not all bad news: Most recently, the island of Kauai finally ditched the “resort bubble” requirements it’s had in place for months, allowing travelers who meet to visit without quarantining. Meanwhile, getting into Maui could get a little harder as the island plans to require a second rapid test upon arrival at the airport. And soon, Hawaii is hoping to set up a system that would allow vaccinated travelers to bypass those testing or quarantine requirements.
What does it all mean? We’ll break down Hawaii travel restrictions to make sure you’ve got it all squared away for your next trip to Hawaii – whether it’s next month or next year.
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- Hawaii Travel Restrictions Update: Current Hawaii Travel Requirements
- Island-by-Island Requirements
- What Kind of Test Do I Need? Where Can I Get Tested?
- Where Can I Get an Approved Test?
- When Do I Need My COVID Test Results By?
- Can I Travel to Hawaii if I’ve Been Vaccinated?
- Steps for Flying to Hawaii
- Hawaii Travel Restrictions FAQs
Hawaii Travel Restrictions Update: Current Hawaii Travel Requirements
The CDC may have updated travel guidelines to say vaccinated Americans can resume traveling, but they do not impact Hawaii’s current travel rules. Proof of vaccination is not a recognized exemption to Hawaii quarantine rules.
However, Hawaii is allowing travelers who come to the state and skip a 10-day quarantine if they present a negative COVID-19 test. But not just any COVID-19 test will do.
The COVID-19 test must be an FDA-approved NAAT test from a CLIA approved laboratory taken no more than 72 hours prior to your final flight to Hawaii. More importantly, it has to be from one of Hawaii’s approved testing partners.
But that’s not all: Results also must be uploaded to Hawaii’s Safe Travels account prior to departure. That’s a change, as Hawaii previously allowed travelers who hadn’t received a test result yet to fly to Hawaii and quarantine upon arrival until the results come in. Now, they’ll be required to quarantine for 10 days – or may even be denied boarding.
When you upload your results, you will get a QR code that will be used upon arrival in Hawaii. Travelers will also need to fill out a travel and health form and may get their temperatures checked upon arrival.
In addition, each island has its own restrictions. Whether you are traveling directly to an island or planning on doing some island hopping, make sure you know the requirements.
You might face some additional restrictions depending on which island you’re visiting.
If you are going to Maui, Kauai or The Big Island (Hawaii) you will need to get a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to departure. That’s true regardless of whether you’re coming from the mainland or a neighboring island.
So if you are spending time anywhere else in Hawaii prior to going to these islands, you’ll need another COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to departing. That’s in addition to the COVID-19 test you took prior to departing for Hawaii in the first place.
Maui Travel Restrictions
Maui also now requires a mandatory second test upon arrival. The timing of when this secondary testing will start is up in the air, but each passenger will have to take a rapid COVID-19 test or face a mandatory 10-day quarantine. Fortunately, it will be free – travelers will not be asked to pay for this second test.
Big Island Travel Restrictions
The Big Island is administering a second rapid antigen test to 25% of arrivals. The test is free for travelers and will take 15-20 minutes for results. If you test positive, a second PCR test will be taken for confirmation.
Oahu Travel Restrictions
Heading for Oahu? The normal rules apply. You need a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before your flight to the state departs. But there’s no need to worry about an additional test if you head for Oahu after visiting a neighboring island.
Kauai Travel Restrictions
Travelers to Kauai are now able to skip the 10-day quarantine with a normal COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to departure for the state of Hawaii. And they no longer need to head for one of a handful of approved “quarantine bubble” resorts for the first three days of their stay, either.
Basically, visiting Kauai is much the same as visiting any other Hawaiian island – and in some cases, it’s even easier.
What Kind of Test Do I Need? Where Can I Get Tested?
To enter Hawaii, you’ll need an FDA-approved NAAT test from a CLIA approved laboratory – and it must be from one of Hawaii’s trusted travel partners. So what does that mean?
There are three main types of testing for COVID-19: molecular diagnostic, rapid antigen, and antibody testing. Antibody testing only confirms whether you previously had COVID-19 – not whether you’re currently infected. And that’s not an approved diagnostic test.
The NAAT testing Hawaii requires stands for “nucleic acid amplification test.” This is a molecular diagnostic testing method that amplifies the DNA of the virus. This is the most accurate type of testing – and can take the longest for results. And yes, the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests you see everywhere do satisfy these requirements. Watch our YouTube video and see what it’s like for yourself:
All this making your head spin? Don’t worry about tracking down a specific type of test. It’s more about where you actually get tested.
Where Can I Get an Approved Test?
Not just any test will do.
Hawaii currently requires you to present a test from one of its Trusted Testing and Travel Partners. Any other test will be rejected. Luckily, the list of approved options is long and continues growing, with more than 24 options on the mainland U.S.
Hawaii’s approved COVID testing partners are: American Family Care (AFC), American Samoa Department of Health, Atlas Genomics, Capstone Clinic, Carbon Health, CityHealth Urgent Care, Clarity Lab Solutions, CLEAR, Color, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, Costco/AZOVA, CVS Health (must schedule through www.cvs.com/selfpaytesting, not a different CVS website or walk-in), Discovery Health MD, DLS Guam, Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services, GoHealth Urgent Care, Kaiser Permanente, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, University of Washington Medicine, Vault Health, Walgreens, WestPac Labs, XpresCheck.
A handful of airlines are also offering COVID-19 testing for passengers headed to Hawaii through some of these approved partners, including Alaska, American, Hawaiian, and United. Hawaii has confirmed that these tests will also pass muster.
Hawaii’s Department of Health spells out everything surrounding its testing partners. You’ll need a test from one of their partners, which the department details on its website. Here’s a quick look at some of the most popular options:
Hawaii’s Trusted Testing and Travel Partners
AFC Urgent Care
COVID-19 tests are available at clinics on the AFC Urgent Care website. Schedule in advance to guarantee appointment availability. A printed version of results is provided prior to leaving the clinic. Information and costs can be found at afcurgentcareportland.com/traveling-hawaii.
Carbon Health offers COVID-19 tests at dedicated sites with results delivered within two hours. Registration instructions and costs can be found at carbonhealth.com/alaska-airlines-to-hawaii-rapid-covid-testing.
CityHealth Urgent Care
CityHealth Urgent Care and its team of expert clinical staff and infectious disease physician consultants offer testing utilizing state-of-the-art Abbott Lab instrumentation for results in 15 minutes. Information and costs can be found at bayareacovid19testing.com.
Color supports the nation’s first COVID-19 testing program for airline passengers. Information can be found at color.com/united-airlines-testing-program.
Beginning Oct. 10, travelers may schedule an appointment up to two days in the future at select CVS Pharmacy drive-through locations. Pre-registration is required. Registration instructions and costs can be found at cvs.com/selfpaytesting.
Discovery Health MD
Beginning Oct. 12, individuals traveling to Hawaii may schedule testing online with same-day and next-day results at designated testing sites. A limited number of walk-ups can be accommodated. Information can be found at discoveryhealthmd.com/covid-19-services/test-to-fly.
Kaiser Permanente members may schedule a test online, or contact the appointment call center or nurse advice line in their home region for scheduling instructions. Kaiser Permanente members returning home to Hawaii may call the Away-from-Home Travel Line at 951-268-3900 for scheduling instructions. Information can be found at kp.org/travel.
Individuals may order and schedule the company’s COVID-19 Active Infection Test online and select from more than 500 Walmart drive-thru pharmacy locations for a nasal swab test. Ordering instructions and costs can be found at questcovid19.com/hawaii.
At-home tests with real-time audio-visual supervision are available with Vault Health, the first FDA-authorized saliva test. Tests are mailed with accurate results in 72 hours or less. Information and costs can be found at learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-hawaii. There are also some in-person Vault testing centers in some states.
Walgreens – Hawaii COVID Testing
Testing is available at no cost to eligible individuals who meet CDC criteria. All drive-thru testing locations operate outdoors and patients do not leave their vehicles. Appointment required. Information can be found at walgreens.com/covid19testing.
When Do I Need My COVID Test Results By?
The real challenge here is getting a test back in time.
Hawaii requires a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken no more than 72 hours prior to the time your flight to Hawaii departs. If you have a multi-city itinerary, it’s based on the departure time at the last city before arriving at a Hawaii airport.
For a while, that was no sure thing. Testing backlogs in the U.S. led to long delays in getting a test result. Fortunately, that has improved in recent months. Many of the trusted travel partners are promising results within 72 hours. But check their website for timing or call to make sure you will receive your results in time.
What’s more, you now need your test results back before your flight to Hawaii departs. That gives you a very narrow window to take a test within 72 hours of your flight to the islands and ensure you get it back before leaving for Hawaii.
Because you’re getting tested for travel, keep in mind you may have to pay out of pocket. The cost will vary but plan to pay roughly $90-$250. Check with your health insurance provider before scheduling a test to see if it’s covered.
Thrifty Tip: Have a Health Savings Account (HSA)? Use it to pay for your test!
Walgreens and CVS – both approved partners for entering Hawaii – are offering free COVID-19 PCR testing, but the time it takes to get results will vary. If you live in a metropolitan area and the location tends to be busy, your wait to get results may be longer. If you’re in a smaller city or rural area, results could come in as little as a few hours.
Can I Travel to Hawaii if I’ve Been Vaccinated?
Yes. But even a vaccination card won’t allow you to skip these current testing requirements – at least not yet.
Hawaii has been working for months on a system that would allow vaccinated travelers to skip COVID-19 testing requirements altogether. It’s not ready yet, but Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green has said that could be available Hawaii residents and island-hopping travelers as soon as May 1 – expanding to travelers from the mainland soon afterward.
“I’m personally asking if we can possibly do it for trans-Pacific travel, but it may be that the governor and the mayors first want to do it for residents, which is nice for us, and then a month later come on board for trans-Pacific travel,” Green told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
It’s unclear what that would mean for children, who aren’t eligible for vaccination. They would likely still need a negative COVID-19 test to enter Hawaii – Hawaii currently requires all children 5 and up to provide proof of a negative test.
Steps for Flying to Hawaii
Now that we’ve broken the process down, here’s a quick recap of what you’ll need to do to get into Hawaii.
Step 1: Register
Once you’ve booked flights, all adults 18 and up will need to register for Hawaii’s Safe Travels program. This is where you’ll fill out a health form prior to arrival and eventually upload your COVID-19 test results.
Children under the age of 18 must be registered under an adult’s Safe Travel form.
Step 2: Get a COVID-19 Test
Hawaii is now allowing travelers to bypass quarantine if they present a negative COVID-19 test. The COVID-19 test must be an FDA approved NAAT test from a CLIA-approved laboratory taken no more than 72 hours before your final flight to Hawaii departs.
Step 3: Upload Your Test Results Before Boarding Your Flight to Hawaii
Once your results come in, upload them to your Safe Travel account. Then make sure to fill out the health questionnaire 24 hours prior to departure. Once both of these things are done, you will receive a QR code needed for boarding your flight and entry into Hawaii. You must have your COVID-19 test results prior to boarding.
Make sure to keep a printed copy of your negative COVID-19 results just in case you are asked to present them at your hotel.
Hawaii Travel Restrictions FAQs
What if I’ve been vaccinated?
Currently, proof of vaccination does not allow travelers to bypass the current requirements. But state officials have suggested they may eventually accept it in place of testing.
What if I’ve already had COVID-19?
To be exempt from the requirements, you’ll need to do these things according to the Hawaii Department of Health:
- Provide a copy of a positive molecular COVID-19 test (NAAT or PCR) from a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified laboratory taken no more than 90 days and no less than 11 days prior to your departure date.
- Provide a signed letter from a medical provider stating that you have not exhibited symptoms and are fully recovered – this letter must be signed at least 10 days after your positive test and no more than 14 days from your departure date.
- Go to ag.hawaii.gov/travelexemption to request an exemption. Allow a week for processing.
What if I want to visit another island?
As of April 4, Kauai has rejoined Hawaii’s Save Travel Program. That means travelers can visit Kauai with the normal pre-travel test.
Planning to hop from island to island? To travel to Maui, Kauai, and The Big Island (Hawaii), you need to take a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to arrival even if you are coming from another island in Hawaii.
If you are transiting to another island after landing in Oahu, you’ll need to fill out another Safe Travels application form for your trip from Honolulu to your next island destination. You’ll need to do this for any island-hopping you do.
What if my results don’t come back in time?
As of Nov. 24, you need to upload their negative COVID-19 test results to your Safe Travels Hawaii account prior to departure. Or you can print out the negative test result prior to departure and have it in hand on arrival to Hawaii.
If your test results do not come back before you board the final leg of your trip, you will be required to quarantine for 10 days or the length of your stay, whichever is shorter. Travelers will not be able to exit quarantine upon receiving test results. Self-quarantine violators will be fined, arrested, and prosecuted.
What if my flight is delayed?
As long as you take your test within 72 hours of when your final flight to Hawaii is scheduled to depart, you will not be subject to a 10-day quarantine in the event of a delay by the airline.
Do children need to get tested?
It depends on how old they are. All travelers 5 and older need to take a test. Children younger than 5 do not.
Do I need to print out my test results?
When you upload your results to your safe travel account and you will get a QR code for entry when you arrive. However, your hotel or accommodations may ask to see your results. Having them printed and easily accessible on your phone will be helpful.
Travelers have been making their way to Hawaii with test results in hand for months. In fact, visits to Hawaii more than doubled just from February to March.
These testing requirements for Hawaii seem daunting at first glance, but they’re fairly straightforward and quite similar to what many other destinations have implemented while resuming travel. But Hawaii travel restrictions continue to change, so be sure to do your research before any trip to Hawaii.