While 2020 had its ups and downs, it definitely taught me a lot and only made me stronger. As we all know, travel has been a bit different this last year; while we can’t just hop on a plane and go anywhere, I was lucky enough to visit one of my favorite places for the holidays, Hawaii. Hawaii has been a second home for me, so it was nice to be somewhere that feels like home for the holidays.
If you’re turning heads and wondering how I got to Hawaii without doing their mandatory 14-day quarantine, well I’m here to tell you everything you need to know in this ultimate Hawaii guide including, what you need, what to expect, hotels to stay, places to eat, and so much more. If you plan on visiting in the year 2021, definitely keep reading!
How to Travel to Hawaii:
What You Need
Recently, Hawaii finally announced a pre-travel testing option, giving travelers the option to bypass the 14-day quarantine by showing proof of a negative COVID-19 NAAT test within 72 hours from departure. This pre-travel testing option is available to most of the islands, including Oahu, the island we traveled to this past Hawaii trip. View more of the information here.
One thing you MUST keep in mind is to make sure you take your COVID test from one of Hawaii’s trusted testing partners. They will ONLY accept negative test results from their trusted partners. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enter Hawaii.
Once you receive your results, you need to create a profile on their Safe Travels online portal, which can be found here. Upload your results, do a quick questionnaire, and you’re set. Even though you have all your documents online, it’s best to print out your negative COVID test for extra proof at airports and a seamless check-in at hotel arrivals.
If you decide not to take a COVID test or don’t receive your COVID test within 72 hours from departure…
Travelers who do not have proof of a negative COVID test must self-quarantine for 10-days. Hawaiians are really strict about this – and I would not recommend disobeying this rule because on the Safe Travels online portal, you must do a daily check-in. Lying about your whereabouts or leaving your hotel room can lead to serious consequences.
Where to Stay:
Hotels in Hawaii started to reopen in December; check out my hotel reviews below.
Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach is a friendly home-like atmosphere. Centrally located in the hub of Waikiki, walking distance to various restaurants, shops, and Waikiki Beach.
Prince Waikiki is an upscale, luxury high-rise hotel. Located by the Ala Wai harbor which is quieter and less crowded. Prince Waikiki is still walking distance to various hot spots including Magic Island, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach, and much more.
Also steps away from the Ala Wai Harbor, this charming boutique hotel is small but super intimate. It is also a budget-friendly hotel, so if you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a hotel, this is a great option.
What to Do:
1. Explore a few of Oahu Hikes
During my stay, I conquered a few hikes, including Maunawilis Falls Trail, a 2.8-mile hike, which features a waterfall at the end and is rated as moderate. An FYI, it rains plentiful in this area, so be ready to get muddy!
Koko Head is the other hike I did, a 1.8-mile hike, but it is rated difficult. This hike is known as nature’s Stairmaster. If you’re unfamiliar, Koko Crater Trail is a 1000+ step track consisting of abandoned railroad ties that run along the crater’s west side to Koko Crater’s top. During World War II, the military used them as part of an incline tram to transport supplies to a lookout post at the summit.
Be prepared to get challenged, as Koko Head is very steep and dangerous. Though, don’t let that scare you away, as the view at the top makes it all worthwhile!
2. Set Sail with Maita’i Catamaran
See the stunning Waikiki skyline views on a boat tour via Maita’i Catamaran. This boat company offers various tours throughout the day. We did their 90 minutes Tradewind Sail tour, and it was a blast!
Alcohol is served on board; you must order their maitais!
Book your ticket here.
3. Go Parasailing
This has been on my list for ages, and I am so glad I finally crossed it off! If you’re looking for an exhilarating and awesome experience, parasailing is the way to go! Plus, you get the best high-top views of Maunalua Bay.
Book your tickets here.
4. Snorkel with Underwater Sea Creatures
Snorkeling should be on your to-do list when visiting Hawaii. We did a fun snorkeling boat tour via Captain Bruce, and I loved it! The views were breathtaking, the staff was both informative and friendly, and best of all, snorkeling was a one-of-a-kind experience. We saw so many undersea creatures, including a sea turtle – I highly recommend it!
Book your tickets here.
5. Go to the Beach
The beach is a no-brainer. Oahu offers various gorgeous beaches throughout its island. Explore outside of Waikiki Beach; you won’t be disappointed.
6. Take an Adventurous Bike Ride
I always say the best way to explore a new city is by bike! You can easily rent a Biki bike (which is Honolulu’s commuter bike); you can find them throughout Honolulu’s urban side.
7. Explore More of Oahu
There is so much more to explore on the island, so I recommend you rent a car!