Hawaii officially restarted travel back in mid-October. But months later, getting in isn’t as easy as you may hope.
Hawaii ditched its mandatory quarantine for travelers 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. Worse yet, the restrictions continue to change, with increasing restrictions for inter-island travel and caveats about getting a test.
What does it all mean? We’ll break down Hawaii travel restrictions 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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What are Hawaii’s travel requirements?
Hawaii is now allowing travelers to 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.
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.
If you are going to Maui or The Big Island (Hawaii) you will need to get a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to arrival. That’s true regardless of where you are coming from. This means if you are spending time anywhere else in Hawaii prior to going to these islands you will need to get a COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to arriving in either of these islands. This is in addition to the COVID-19 test you took prior to arriving in the state.
Kauai has a 10-day quarantine in place with a few exceptions allowed. Travelers may shorten the 10-day quarantine to three days if they stay at a “resort bubble” for 72 hours and receive a negative COVID-19 test after that time. Or travelers that have been elsewhere in the state of Hawaii longer than 72 hours can take another approved COVID-19 test prior to heading for Kauai and bypass quarantine.
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:
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 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. And 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 the some of the most popular options:
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: 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: Color supports the nation’s first COVID-19 testing program for airline passengers. Information can be found at color.com/united-airlines-testing-program.
CVS Health: 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 only): 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.
Quest Diagnostics: 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.
Vault Health: 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.
Walgreens: 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 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.
And that’s no sure thing, as testing backlogs in the U.S. have led to long delays in getting a test result – though 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.
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.
FAQs About Hawaii Travel Restrictions
What if I’ve been vaccinated?
Currently, proof of vaccination does not allow travelers to be exempt from 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. Please allow a week for processing.
What if I want to visit another island?
To travel to Maui 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.
Kauai is still requiring travelers to quarantine for 10-days – but there’s one exception. Travelers have an option to shorten the quarantine to three days. They must take the pre-arrival COVID-19 test required by the state of Hawaii. Then travelers must stay at an approved Enhanced Movement Quarantine (EMQ) “resort bubble” hotel for three days. After three days guests must take a post-travel COVID-19 test. Otherwise, island-hopping travelers can bypass Kauai’s quarantine by spending at least 72 hours on a neighboring island and then taking another test before heading for Kauai.
For more details visit the County of Kauai website.
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 14-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.
Hawaii says it’s ready for tourism, and travelers are making their way to the islands with test results in hand. While travel to the islands is nowhere near what it was a year ago, it’s slowly recovering.
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 they continue to change, so be sure to do your research before any trip to Hawaii.