Progress in COVID Travel Testing
A very long-anticipated day is finally here! Today (October 15th) the Hawaiian islands open back up to the states for travel without a mandatory 2-week quarantine. The islands will allow travelers who have had an approved COVID-19 test with negative results no more than 72 hours prior to departure to bypass the 14-day quarantine*. Many airlines and airports will be offering testing on-site so you will be able to receive your results just before departure. This is one of the biggest advancements we have seen within air travel in regards to coronavirus safety.
Now that we can get there, there are so many places to choose from! Well lucky for you Hawaii is one of our favorite places at Santa Barbara Travel, many of our staff specialize in travel to Hawaii, have been to the islands countless times, or even have lived there! So we put together a quick list of different options and recommendations for which island may suit you best!
FOR THE TRAVELER IN NEED OF A LITTLE R&R:
Set your sights on the big island for a peaceful getaway. Fly into Kona airport and take a short drive to stay at the Four Seasons Hualalai. The Resort boasts crystal clear white sand beaches, surrounded by majestic lava flow. Offering villas, suites, and guest rooms with absolutely stunning views. The resort sits virtually alone except for the neighboring private residences. Enjoy a day on the water rushing across waves in a sailing canoe, take the kids for a swim in the newly redesigned Kings Pond aquarium, or sip that very well deserved mai tai on the sand.
For day journeys, we recommend a drive to Pololu Valley lookout and hike where Jurassic Park was filmed. With steep cliffs, a black sand beach and lush greenery you will be put at ease instantly. Or venture to the other side of the island near Hilo to visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, Onomea Trail, Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls for a day filled with gorgeous stops. Head over to Hapuna Beach for the perfect sunset. And if you want a little bit more out of your day swimming with the Manta Rays is always a remarkable experience.
FOR THE NATURE EXPLORER:
The Garden Isle of Kauai is truly one of the most magical places in the world. You can fully immerse yourself in the wonder of the island and its natural sensations. We highly recommend staying at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort which will be accepting reservations beginning November 1st, 2020. Or if you would rather stay right by Hanalei Bay (the largest bay on the north shore), The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas are perfect for any size group.
Kauai features one of the most photographed coastlines in the world, the Na Pali Coast. A few of the other awe-inspiring spots, we’re sure you have seen in pictures would include Waimea Canyon State Park, Queens Bath (a natural saltwater pool), and the Haiku Stairs also known as the Stairway to Heaven. There are plenty of hikes deep into the forests and along ridges letting you wind your way through the island. A few other hikes worth looking up are Kalalau Trail, Nualolo Trail, Honopu Ridge Trail and the Kuilau Trail.
If your legs need a rest Kauai is the perfect place for a helicopter ride between the steep slopes, cascading waterfalls and above the crashing waves. Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours is currently taking bookings, other companies will be operating again shortly as well! Every water activity you could imagine is at your fingertips. Snorkel, dive, jet ski, or feel free to just go for a leisurely swim and enjoy the magnificent surroundings.
FOR THE ONE WHO WANTS A TASTE OF EVERYTHING:
Maui is the Hawaii one-stop-shop. With the breathtaking Hana side, perfect swimming beaches on the south side, world-renowned golf, legendary surf spots, beautiful peaks to trek up, the Haleakala crater, and a good dose of the aloha spirit you can have the ideal island experience. For those more into water activities, shopping, tours and dining we would recommend staying in Ka’anapali at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa or at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa. For travelers wanting a little more relaxation and luxury, the Andaz offers a new chic, clean and stunning take on Hawaiian hospitality. Its neighbor the Fairmont Kea Lani showcases classic Hawaiian beauty for the ultimate vacation unwind and the best drinks on the island at their poolside restaurant Ko. Both of these hotels are taking reservations beginning November 1st, 2020.
Many visitors take day trips to drive the infamous road to Hana showcasing the beautiful coast of Maui along a lightly windy lush road with picturesque white one-lane bridges. Along the route are many waterfalls, black sand beaches, lava tubes, look-out points and roadside stands to stop at for fresh fruit, coconut candy, banana bread and much more. The Pools of O’heo are a must-see at the end of the road just past Hana town. Another noteworthy stop is the small town of Paia boasting loads of character, shopping and plenty of good food (try Café des Amis just off the main drag). Lastly to really feel the impact of Pele (the goddess of fire and volcanoes, and creator of the islands) head up to the crater just before dawn. You can take a sunrise bike ride down the mountain, looking over the islands, and taking a check off your bucket list!
FOR ULTIMATE SECLUSION:
The island of Lanai is just a short ferry ride from Maui or a few minutes plane hop over from most islands. The Four Seasons (opening today!) is located atop a small cliff overlooking the gorgeous Manele Bay. Here you can truly resign yourself to comfort and tranquil beauty. This stand-alone resort evades the tourism bubble of other islands. The closest populated area is Lanai city, about 30 minutes away with a small population of just over 3,000. Head out on the resort’s catamaran for a day on the water connecting with marine life, snorkeling, swimming and letting the sun soothe your skin. Or add a little more adrenaline and take a four-wheel UTV up through the forest and along the cliffs for stunning views and fresh air. Take a day off and just lay out by the pool or go out for a round of golf. Lanai allows you to saturate yourself in the beauty of the island and the vast Pacific.
The hotel is also currently offering free round trip air from Oahu for those booking by December 15th, 2020 to stay between now and March 31st, 2021.
FOR THE GET-UP-AND-GO TRAVELER:
Oahu is the most visited of all the Hawaiian islands. Roam around the streets of Waikiki and Honolulu for nightlife, shopping, dining and excitement! You can take a surf lesson or learn to hula. Take time to learn the history of the islands and the culture that the people hold dearly. Take a tour of Pearl Harbor, or drive to the North Shore and witness Pipeline’s majestic wave like no other in the world. Anything that you want out of a vacation is possible in Oahu.
We would recommend a two-part stay when visiting Oahu, allowing you to experience both sides of the island properly. Begin at the Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu for your city fix. After a few days make your way to the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore. For surf fanatics the North Shore is Mecca. This winter is the perfect time to visit the world renowned breaks.
You can participate in water activities, hiking, biking, helicopter tours, site seeing and enjoy as many cocktails as you would like on the beaches of any of these islands. Each has a little something different in their spirit. Whichever island you decide on Hawaii will never disappoint.
For many west coasters, these islands are our second home. We are so glad to be able to support the economy of this amazing state that offers so much to all who visit, always respecting the land and the sea, from mauka (mountain side) to makai (ocean side) we will always remember to respect the Aina (land).
*When entering the Hawaiian islands:
- All U.S. travelers 18 and older must register through the mandatory Hawaii Safe Travels online program
- Within 72 hours of departure time, each traveler 5 or older must undergo an approved COVID-19 test with negative results through Hawaii’s trusted testing and travel partners
- 24 hours prior to departure, complete the health questionnaire on your Safe Travels account
- Comply with all social distancing and mask requirements during travel, including in-flight
- All incoming Hawaii travelers must pass thermal temperature checks and facial-imaging technology upon arrival
- Produce the Safe Travels QR code to local officials upon arrival in Hawaii
Additionally each island has their own set of rules. Check with your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor for the latest regulations.