Congratulations! You made it through the Covid lockdowns of 2020 and early 2021. Your relationship with your spouse is still intact after being forced to see each other all day every day for more than a year. You have extra money in the bank after not being able to do anything fun for the last year (or longer), and you are ready to get the heck out of your hometown and go on vacation!
International travel still has many layers of restrictions, but Hawaii continues to be warm, beautiful, and has had one of the lowest Covid infection rates of any US state. Hawaii is open for travel for all US citizens (as long as you provide a negative Covid test, taken within 72 hours of your arrival from an approved Hawaii testing center). You are itching to book your flight, but the problem is that there are already a bunch of other people who have the same idea as you and are en-route to the islands as well. Hawaii has seen a recent surge of tourism which has created a huge rise in demand and lack of availability for certain items. Here are a few tips you need to know to make your upcoming trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
1. Make Reservations
If you have a favorite restaurant or an activity that is a must-do, you will absolutely want to book them in advance. Many of our restaurants are still at 50% serving capacity due to local restrictions, and some businesses also may have staffing shortages due to unfortunate, but necessary layoffs when tourism came to a screeching halt at the height of Covid. As such, you will want to make reservations well in advance particularly for dinners, and for events with limited capacity such as luaus, tours, etc. On a recent trip my fiancé and I took to Maui, we forgot to make reservations for dinner one night and ended up calling 6 restaurants that were completely full and not taking walk-ins. We eventually found a table after an hour’s wait and had a very late dinner due to not planning ahead of time. Most charter fishing, sailing, and snorkeling boats are packed and booked out for at least a week or two.
2. Reserve a Rental Car Well in Advance
At the height of Covid, when Hawaii was in a complete lockdown and there was 0 tourist traffic, many of the rental car companies shipped much of their car fleets back to the mainland. As the state reopened and tourism ramped back up, the cars stayed put on the lower 48. With the state being completely reopened there is substantially more demand for cars than the available supply. I have seen prices of over $300/day for a “standard” rental car which is unheard of! Even sites like Turo have zero cars available on certain days. I know of a number of locals who have bought and shipped cars from the mainland specifically to rent them out on Turo. Long story short, make your rental car reservations well in advance and be prepared to pay a premium at least until the car rental companies ship their fleets back.
3. Bring an Island Mentality to the Roads
With all of the extra visitors in town, traffic has returned to the islands after being essentially non-existent a handful of months ago. Highway speed limits in the islands generally max out at 60mph, and every island except Oahu doesn’t have freeways! Traffic can be unavoidable at times, but if you plan ahead, and bring a relaxed attitude, it will all work. An important side note, honking is highly frowned upon and considered to be disrespectful by many locals, so please take it easy on the horn.
Hopefully these tips can help you prepare for your trip and you will not be taken by surprise when you land. We’re glad to welcome you back to the islands and hope you have an amazing trip!!