Dear travelers to Hawaii: Please don’t come until you’ve understood these 6 things

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1. We used to be ruled by Hawaiian Royalty.

Prior to statehood, Hawaii was an independent nation known as the Kingdom of Hawaii complete with rule by kings and queens. Most notable was King Kamehameha the Great who, amid a time many chiefs were fighting for power, established the unified monarchy across the islands.
Hawaii was sovereign from 1810 until 1893 when the kingdom, then ruled by Queen Lili’uokalani, was overthrown by American and European settlers. After 60 years of being a U.S. Territory, Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959, making it the most recent state added to the union.

2. The Hawaiian sovereignty movement is alive and well.

Going from an independent, sovereign nation to being part of the United States has caused major struggles for the native Hawaiians — most notably with land issues, education, and other sacred cultural elements.

When the first Native Hawaiians encountered western civilization, 90 percent of the Hawaiian population diminished due to war and illness. After the American missionaries arrived and the monarchy was overthrown, the Kingdom of Hawaii and its native peoples suffered greatly without any formal recognition of their right of self-determination, meaning they are not eligible for entitlements, funds, and benefits that other US indigenous peoples, like Eskimos and Native Alaskans, are afforded.

Dozens of organizations were established to preserve native Hawaiian language, rituals, and other cultural customs, while a non-profit organization, Na’i Aupuni, attempted to hold a vote to organize a native Hawaiian government, but the proceedings fell short.

3. We don’t have perfect weather year round.

If you come to Hawaii on vacation, you might have a preconceived notion that we enjoy impeccable weather on the daily. Nothing but 365 days of sunshine, right?

We do enjoy amazing weather in Hawaii — usually. But how do you think the Aloha State got famous for its rainbows? It rains every day to some degree depending on your location on the island. Don’t be surprised if you experience a little rain during your visit. And don’t complain about it: instead, just look up at the sky and enjoy one of our vibrant, and famous, rainbows.

4. Travel outside of Waikiki, and you’ll likely get an eyeful of our homeless epidemic.

Honolulu’s homeless epidemic made national headlines when the New York Times posted this article, “Aloha and Welcome to Paradise. Unless You’re Homeless.” Honolulu experiences the worst rate of homelessness in the nation, and the article cites that the number one reason people would not come back to Hawaii was because of homelessness.

The recently passed Sit-Lie Ordinance makes sitting or lying on a public sidewalk illegal in 16 neighborhoods, including famous Waikiki where tourists frequent. The homeless have subsequently migrated to other areas of the island and have constructed camps all over the island of Oahu.
Ticketing the homeless, who are just trying to survive in a place with one of the highest cost of living in the country, is driving them elsewhere, and not eradicating the problem. While recent efforts to house our homeless and to develop creative solutions to end homelessness have been made, the epidemic is still glaringly prevalent.

5. Bringing your mainland attitude to the islands won’t get you very far.

Mainlanders have a certain reputation in Hawaii, and it’s not always a good one.

I moved to the islands in 2012 from Chicago, and I’m still adjusting to island life. Not only is Hawaii slower paced and more relaxed (sans Honolulu rush hour traffic), but the culture is different from the mainland.

Local culture tends to be more reserved and respectful, quiet, and considerate. Mainlanders are a bit brasher and tend to have an opinion about everything. Open your mouth to bellyache or try to change things one too many times will earn you a bad reputation.

Hawaii locals have lived here likely their whole lives, and their families have lived here for generations. Visitors come and go, but family, tradition, and culture are king here. Check your mainland attitude at the baggage claim, and spend your time in Hawaii listening and learning for an enjoyable stay.

6. To get respect, you must give it.

Hawaii is known around the world for its aloha spirit and hospitality, but arriving here doesn’t entitle you to it.

The most gracious aloha is given when it’s received in turn. Ever hear that phrase, “Treat others how you want to be treated”? It’s the golden rule that will make the different between a trip to a Hawaii and a heartwarming experience of a lifetime.

Hawaii Delays Reopening Amid Failed Pre-Travel Testing Plans

During a briefing this morning, Hawaii’s governor said he will now extend the 14-day mandatory isolation through at least August 31, putting the kibosh on Hawaii travel. That comes as the pre-travel testing program that Hawaii had planned has collapsed, and will not be occurring anytime soon. Reopening was originally slated starting August 1 with no 14-day isolation required for those testing within 72 hours before travel. There’s a lot more to this, so please read on.

Wait times for test results have dramatically increased.

Our Beat of Hawaii commentors called this before, and now it is in the national news. CVS is reportedly taking multiple times longer than originally promised for test results. Ironically, if they take any longer than they are now, it may exceed the 14-day isolation period, so that these test results could become entirely meaningless. California’s governor said, “Because of backlogs with Quest and others we’re experiencing multiday delays.”

We have heard that some locations have purchased rapid test machines that do not rely on the same supplies that are in short order or have secured additional lab supplies. It isn’t clear what Hawaii has done in such regards.

Hawaii’s CVS testing partnership failed before it even started.

As recently as a week ago, Hawaii’s health director Bruce Anderson touted the relationship with CVS as the white night that would result in timely travel tests via their 1,400+ locations. That was unquestionably the most critical aspect of Hawaii’s reopening plans. Since then, however, CVS is reporting multi-day to multi-week delays in returning results.

CVS’s spokesperson Charlie Rice-Minoso said there is currently a wait of five to seven days for test results. “As demand for tests has increased, we’ve seen test result turnaround times vary due to temporary processing capacity limitations in our lab partners, which they are working to address.” Others are telling us that five to seven days is on the optimistic side at this time, however. Giant testing lab partner Quest Diagnostics said, “Quest is doing everything it can to add testing capacity to reduce turnaround times.”

US Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, who is responsible for the US testing system said, “The nation’s testing system is nearing limits and commercial labs are taking longer to complete non-emergency C0VID tests… I’m not saying it’s at a max now, but we’re certainly pushing the frontiers.”

Did Hawaii see this coming?

It looks like the state did not. In Alaska’s example, there are multiple options as seen in the image below to accomplish travel testing. Even then, however, these are not guaranteed and we suspect they are having significant problems. For example, they are suggesting you do a test at home 72 hours before travel, and yet Alaska’s test provider says there is a 4-6 day delay in obtaining results. Oops.

Will waiting help Hawaii’s situation?

We’re just not sure that changing the date will make any difference. The reason is that there is no guarantee or even likelihood that there will be adequate testing available in California and elsewhere in the near future. That given the rapid increase in cases and the need for more testing. It is painfully obvious that travel testing will be taking a back seat here to those of medical necessity.

If the situation isn’t confusing enough, the State via its tourism site as of today still says that to avoid the 14-day isolation period, visitors will need to obtain results from an FDA-approved test from a CLIA-certified laboratory. That is the third time their stated requirements have changed in the past week. First, it said PCR test, and then it was changed to the NAAT test. There have never been any follow-up details offered, such as: from what age will children be tested, how long the pre-arrival testing requirement and quarantine process will be in effect, whether this only applies to travel from the mainland United States or does it also apply to travel from other countries, and how this affects residents returning to Hawaii.

Other problems with pre-travel testing are getting worse by the day.

1. How will pre-travel testing work for travelers who have stops en route from places that require connections and even stopovers?

2. When visitors unexpectedly don’t have the required test results on arrival, or if their test comes back positive, what will happen to them?

Will they be returned to the mainland, and if so at whose expense? Visitors who normally stay about a week aren’t going to be going into 14-day isolation, but perhaps a brief period (hours not days) until test results are returned might be possible.

3. Will any refunds be available should things go awry?

The major airline trade organization announced that its members will “refund tickets for any passenger who is found to have an elevated temperature—as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines—during a screening process conducted by federal authorities prior to travel.” That having been said, however, there is no provision for what happens when someone tests positive on either pre-departure or arrival testing. We are hearing that trip insurance could help, although that should be verified before purchasing coverage.

4. What are the costs associated with tests, and who will pay for it?

The governor has said that tests will be paid for by travelers and might be as high as $160 per person, which we believe is excessive and creates yet another roadblock to tourism. Could some of the costs be subsidized?

On-arrival testing being offered in Alaska, London, Frankfurt, and Iceland.

London’s Heathrow Airport will offer an example of new on-arrival, saliva-based testing. This means passengers can be checked for C0VID after landing at Heathrow and will know within 24 hours their test results. Passengers will go to their place of isolation until results are obtained. The estimated cost is $187.

Germany also announced on-arrival testing at extremely busy Frankfurt Airport via private-sector partner Centogene. For a fee of 59€ to 139€, tests results are returned within two to eight hours. Currently, 380 tests per hour can be processed at FRA. The airport also accepts pre-departure testing which will lessen the burden on arrival testing.

Iceland allows for on-arrival testing at airports. The cost is $65, which is being subsidized, and children under fifteen do not require testing. Test results are said to take no more than five hours.

Alaska provides an on-arrival test option too. The timely availability of results, however, is of great concern. The majority of travelers are testing one way or the other, before departure on arrival. About one-third of Alaska arrivals have already tested before departure and provide results at the airport, while more than one-third more obtain free tests on arrival.

Options for on-arrival Hawaii tests.

Hawaii’s’ governor said recently that those who do not have their results on arrival will be in isolation until they obtain negative test results. In that comment, the door was opened to the need for more Hawaii testing options. Yet, the state continues to say that there will be no on-arrival testing. So just what does that mean? To us, it means that arrival testing will be provided not by the state, but perhaps by private-sector testing partners.

On-arrival testing has its own set of issues, since visitors will need to enter isolation until they obtain results. How that will be supervised here in Hawaii is anyone’s guess.

Private testing partners.

As the government moves out of testing and private vendors move in, Hawaii first partnered with CVS and will undoubtedly try to add others in their traveler testing program. There is the possibility that the federal or state government may provide some reimbursement for test costs, but we have heard nothing about that.

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There has been no further clarification from the state of Hawaii on upcoming changes to interisland travel rules. Until further notice, those traveling to any Hawaii destination other than Oahu are required to have an approved COVID test from a “trusted partner” within 72 hours of travel.

Those passengers traveling interisland to Honolulu do not require a test It is very likely that all interisland testing requirement will be eliminated soon, but that has not occurred yet.

Further, through April 4, to avoid quarantine, Kauai will also require that interisland travelers have been on another island for a minimum of 72 before obtaining that test. Starting April 5, as Kauai is returning to Safe Travels, it is presumed that the requirements will be the same as for the Big Island and Maui. We will update this information as soon as we have more information.

Covid-19 U.S. travel restrictions state by state

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Editor’s note: This story was current as of February 15 and will be updated periodically. However, you should still check with the official state websites before you commit to travel plans. Top photo credit: Opus

With cases of Covid-19 now past the 27.6 million mark in the United States, some states have updated or expanded their travel rules and regulations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against nonessential travel at this time. If you do decide to travel to another state, it is important to be updated on the latest statewide regulations.

While some US states still have no restrictions on leisure travel, all their official websites have important Covid-19 safety information. For instance, most states have mandates on face masks in public settings. Also inhibiting travel this week: Much of the United States is the grips of a winter blast that makes travel impossible or dangerous.

This list is alphabetical and includes links to state websites that have important details you should read before you cross state lines:


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Alabama. However, visitors should be aware of the state’s mask mandate, as it applies to travelers, too. It’s effective through March 5 (though it’s been extended numerous times). You can check here for updates.


Visitors to Alaska should have a “qualifying Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure” and upload their negative result to a Travel Declaration Form. You’re then asked to observe strict social distancing for five days. A second test is suggested — but not required — between days 5 and 14. If you don’t arrive with a negative Covid-19 result, you must take a Covid-19 test at the airport for $250 and quarantine at your own expense until you get the results. Check here for details and updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Arizona. Check here for updates. Here’s a direct link for information on Native American lands in the state. And you can click here to see the status of specific tourist sites.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Arkansas. Check here for updates.


California has lifted its recent stay-at-home order but discourages out-of-state visitors. People are encouraged to quarantine for 10 days upon entering the state. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties have a 10-day mandatory quarantine. Los Angeles County requires visitors to fill out this online travel form. In most counties, restaurants can serve patrons outdoors and hotels can accommodate visitors. Part of US Highway 1 in Monterey County continues to be closed because of a mudslide.

— You can click here to find out local travel information — this is highly advised as the situation is different depending on the location.

— Finally, you can continue to check here for updates on California more generally.


Pitkin County, Colorado (which includes ski resort Aspen/Snowmass), requires overnight visitors to complete a health affidavit and provide a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival or face a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

There are no other known travel restrictions in the rest of Colorado, though nonessential travel is not recommended. Find out more:

— Check here for general updates about the state.


Anyone traveling to Connecticut from anywhere other than New York, New Jersey or Rhode Island must self-quarantine for 10 days. You must also fill out a travel health form. Failure to do either could result in a $500 fine. You can be exempt from the quarantine with a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours before your arrival or after getting a negative result for a test taken after arrival.

One more exception: If you have tested positive for Covid-19 within 90 days and have clinically recovered or not been symptomatic for 10 days, you’re not required to self-quarantine. But you must provide written proof of a positive test result to the Commissioner of Public Health via email to: [email protected] or via fax to: (860) 326-0529.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Delaware. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Florida. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Georgia. Check here for updates.


Hawaii has a complicated and evolving set of travel requirements, and you can expect variation even within the islands. You should read them thoroughly before you plan a trip and check often for updates. A brief summation from the state:

“Travelers (5 and older) wishing to bypass the 10-day mandatory quarantine must have their negative Covid-19 test results — from a trusted testing partner — prior to departure for the State of Hawaii. Travelers heading to Hawaii must upload their negative test result to the Safe Travels system prior to departure or, as an alternative to uploading, bring a hard copy of their negative test result with them when boarding their flight.” The test must be taken within 72 hours of the final leg of departure.

Visitors to Kauai must quarantine regardless of test result unless they qualify to stay in a “resort bubble” hotel. Check here for important additional details, including going from one island to another.


As of February 15, there are no statewide travel restrictions in Idaho. Check here for updates. And you can click here for ski updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide restrictions in Illinois, but visitors heading to Chicago have been placed in two categories — orange and yellow. Anyone from an orange state must quarantine for 10 days or have a negative Covid-19 test result no more than 72 hours old to avoid the quarantine. There are no specific requirements if you’re coming from a yellow state. Check here for more information before you travel to Chicago. Check here for information on the rest of Illinois.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Indiana. Check here for updates.

As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Iowa. Anyone 2 and older is encouraged to wear a face covering in indoor public settings. Check here for updates and gathering restrictions.


While mostly open, Kansas has some specific quarantine requirements subject to change. Check here for updates and more details.


The Bluegrass State is discouraging out-of-state leisure travel. If you decide to go anyway, the state asks you to self-quarantine for 14 days. Read Kentucky’s travel advisory here.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Louisiana. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras parades have been canceled and restrictions have been put on drinking. Check here for updates.


Travelers must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival or fill out a travel protocol form stating they’ve received a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours. You may also get tested upon arriving in Maine but must quarantine while awaiting results. Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont are exempt. Check here for updates.


People who travel to Maryland must either get a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of arrival or self-quarantine for 10 days. This applies to people coming from all places except Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC. Check the following for updates: VisitMaryland guide | The governor’s recovery plan | PDF with detailed instructions (pages 2 and 3).


All visitors and returning residents must complete a travel form before arriving in Massachusetts unless they are arriving from a state designated by the Department of Public Health as low risk.

Otherwise, visitors must quarantine for 10 days, have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival or test upon arrival and quarantine until a negative result is returned. You could be fined $500 a day if you don’t comply. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Michigan, though some of the activities and venues vacationers might enjoy are not open or very limited in operations for now. Check here for updates.


UPDATE: Visitors to Minnesota are asked to quarantine for 14 days or follow CDC guidelines on how to shorten a quarantine. Also note that many indoor venues of interest to tourists have capacity limits and restrictions. Find out more: Explore Minnesota | Minnesota Department of Health.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Mississippi. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Missouri. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Montana. Travel restrictions might vary at Native American reservations. Please check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Nebraska. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Nevada, though many indoor places tourists might visit have capacity limits. Check here for updates.

New Hampshire

Visitors to New Hampshire are asked to self-quarantine for 10 days unless they are arriving from elsewhere in New England. People who get a negative Covid-19 test result on or after the seventh day of quarantining can break it early. If it has been 14 days or more since you got your second Covid-19 vaccine, you do not need to quarantine or get tested. Check here for updates.

New Jersey

Tourism is discouraged. Travelers not from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware should self-quarantine at their home, hotel or other temporary lodging with the following in mind:

— If travel is unavoidable, you should consider getting tested with a viral test (not an antibody test) one to three days before the trip and again three to five days afterward.
— If you test negative, you should quarantine for seven days after travel.
— If testing is not available or results are delayed, you should quarantine for 10 days after travel.
— You’re requested to fill out a voluntary online survey. Please click here for details and updates.

New Mexico

People traveling from out-of-state are required to self-quarantine for 14 days or the length of their stay in New Mexico, whichever is shorter. Exemptions from low-risk states are allowed, but currently, only Hawaii is deemed low risk. Check here for updates.

New York

Current guidelines allow travelers to New York to test out of what is otherwise a mandatory 10-day quarantine. Travelers from states that are contiguous with New York will continue to be exempt from the travel advisory. Covered travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form. You can check for important details on how to test out along with other updates.

North Carolina

As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in North Carolina. Check here for updates and details on closings and mandates.

North Dakota

As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in North Dakota. The state does post suggested travel guidance and testing protocols. Be aware North Dakota has had the highest number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the country for months now. Check here for updates.

Travelers visiting Ohio from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or more are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. This list updates each Wednesday. Check here for details.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Oklahoma. Check here for updates.


People arriving in Oregon from other states or countries, including returning Oregon residents, are encouraged to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Nonessential travel, which includes tourism, is discouraged. Check here for updates and details.


Travelers arriving in Pennsylvania are required to quarantine for 10 days or provide a negative Covid-19 test result that’s less than 72 hours old upon arrival. Check here for updates.

Puerto Rico

To visit this US commonwealth, you need a negative result from a Covid-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours before arrival. If you come without a test result, you must self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of the trip, whichever is shorter. You must also fill out an online travel declaration form. Please check here for details and updates.

Rhode Island

Those traveling to Rhode Island from a state that has a positive testing rate of 5% or more must quarantine for 10 days. Travelers can opt out of the quarantine if they can provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of their arrival. This exception does not apply to international arrivals. You can check that list of states here.

Those waiting on test results must self-quarantine until a negative test result arrives. You must also fill out a certificate of compliance and a travel screening form. You still must follow quarantine guidance if you’ve gotten a Covid-19 vaccine. If you’ve tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 90 days and finished your isolation period, you are not required to quarantine or retest unless you display symptoms. You can check here for updates.

South Carolina

As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in South Carolina. Check here for updates.

South Dakota

As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in South Dakota. Some routes through Native American lands might be closed. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Tennessee. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Texas. The state urges people to wear a mask, saying “an itty-bitty piece of cloth goes a long way towards keeping yourself and others healthy.” Check here for updates.

As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Utah, though there is a statewide mask mandate. Check here for updates.


Vermont has a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival for nonessential travel. You have the option of taking a Covid-19 PCR test on day seven of the quarantine and ending the quarantine early with a negative reading. Check here for updates.


As of February 15, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Virginia. The state suggests getting tested one to three days before travel and again three to five days after you return. Check here for updates.

Washington, DC

These travel requirements apply to anyone coming to the District from a jurisdiction with more than 10 cases per 100,000 people: Visitors are asked to get tested 72 hours or less before coming to DC. If you’re there for more than three days, you’re asked to get tested again. Check here for updates and important details. And you can click here for the status of tourist-oriented sites.

Washington state

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As of February 23, there were no statewide travel restrictions in West Virginia. Check here for updates.


As of February 23, there were no statewide travel restrictions. However, the state is discouraging nonessential travel. Check here for updates.


As of February 23, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Wyoming. Check here for updates.

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