Visiting Big Island After October 15 – Where to Stay

In light of the Hawaii governorʻs announcement of a “Safe Travels” pre-testing program for visitors to come to Hawaiʻi without enduring 14 days of quarantine, many Hawaii property owners and prospective buyers have reached out to me about their travel plans. The most confusing part of the new phase of our island stateʻs reopening is that each County (basically, island) has slightly different Covid-19 related rules on business operations, beach and park usage, and visitor accommodations.

I will leave it to my colleagues on Oʻahu, Maui, and Kauai to be resources for the specifics related to their islands. And please check back frequently for updates relating to Hawaii Island. But as of the beginning of October, here is what our Big Island Mayorʻs order still says.

Kaunaoa Beach at Mauna Kea Resort at sunset

Enjoying sunset at Kaunaʻoa Beach at Mauna Kea Resort in October 2019 – beaches are open again with restrictions

Where and Why – Quarantine on Hawaii Island

Didnʻt I just say that starting October 15th, visitors getting negative Covid-19 tests within 72 hours of departure from their last stop need not quarantine in Hawaii? Well, while that is what the Governorʻs order says, so far the updated rules from the mayors, including Emergency Rule #12 from Mayor Harry Kim on the Big Island, have not relaxed the 14-day quarantine requirement.

In addition, the rule requires that persons requiring paid or commercial lodging must quarantine in a hotel — not a bed-and-breakfast, private short term vacation rental or Airbnb. The same is true of intended residents unless you have already closed escrow on your property, in which case I have resources who will shop and stock your condo or home for your two-week self-quarantine.

Hilton Waikoloa Village from Hallii Kai

Hilton Waikoloa Village seen across the golf course from Halii Kai 11A condo for sale — taking reservations from November 1st

Unfortunately for the rest of us who would be willing to quarantine (that means ME if I want to vacation inter-island, for instance), there are a very limited number of hotels accepting reservations, primarily those who have already been servicing the small population of essential workers traveling with exemption from the quarantine rules. And with the exception of Kauaiʻs resort bubble program, you literally have to stay in your room.

The indications are that most of our Kohala Coast hotels are planning a November reopening. My recommendation would be to thinking about booking in November or later.

When Will Resorts and Short Term Vacation Rentals Reopen?

I have been getting a lot of questions from my owners — and prospective buyers — of condos at Halii Kai and Kolea at Waikoloa Beach Resort where I have a lot of listings. Both of these resort communities offer on-site amenities that are beyond the usual “pool and exercise room.” Halii Kai has an attendant with towels and a full-service bar and grill. Kolea also offers towel service and a direct pathway to the beach. In normal times, that is.

Halii Kai poolside pre-C-vid

Before Covid-19 restrictions, the Halii Kai Ocean Club was a popular venue for residents and guests to gather for a cocktail and oceanfront sunsets

For owners, the answer is that you could use your condo and quarantine there right now. Once you finish your two weeks, the pools are currently open with more limited services. Bring your own towels and beach chairs, expect to give proof you are not under quarantine, and donʻt forget your masks and social distancing.

Kolea condo beachfront pool

Current rules at the Kolea condo beachside pool require guests to demonstrate that they are not under quarantine. Bring your own towels and mask!

Once the Mayor agrees that pre-tested travelers meeting the State requirements are exempt from quarantine, vacationing travelers who are not owners can rent from owners of resort condos. When activity picks up enough, the communities will transition back to full services.

Bottom line: Hawaii Island is not yet prepared for visitors starting October 15th. But todayʻs restrictions are likely to be relaxed by the end of the month. Stay tuned for updates — and maybe Iʻll see you in November!

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