Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
Citi is an advertising partner
While it is possible to travel to Hawaii right now, the rules and restrictions are complicated. We advise travelers to do thorough research before visiting to avoid inconvenient consequences, or simply postpone your trip to a later date. As COVID-19 cases continue to swell in Hawaii, coronavirus restrictions are beginning to tighten on the islands.
At the end of August, Hawaii Gov. David Ige urged Hawaii residents and tourists to avoid all non-essential travel until the end of October 2021 due to a surge in COVID-19 delta variant cases overwhelming Hawaiian hospitals.
If you're planning a trip to Hawaii, we recommend setting your departure date for late October or after.
However, if traveling to Hawaii right now is unavoidable, it can still be done — you'll just have to jump through a few hoops in order to make it happen. A major development for those already in Hawaii is the establishment of the Vaccine Pass program. Now in effect in Maui and Oahu, the program requires all patrons to restaurants, bars, gyms and other social institutions to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry. This program is currently in effect until mid-November 2021.
- Visitors to Hawaii who have been vaccinated in the U.S. do not have to show a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine upon arrival, according to the new Vaccine Exemption rules
- Oahu and Maui restaurants and social establishments require a vaccine pass for entry
- As of June 2021, there are no inter-island travel restrictions
- For unvaccinated and international travelers, you must show proof of a negative Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT) COVID-19 test from a specific state-approved trusted testing partner within 72 hours before your final leg of departure or face a 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
- All travelers to Hawaii must register with the state's Hawaii Safe Travels program
- Masks are required indoors on all Hawaiian islands
- Social gatherings are currently limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
Hawaii travel requirements and restrictions
Visiting Hawaii right now is possible, but there are a few very specific rules and restrictions to avoid a 10-day quarantine. Each island has their own requirements, but there are a few travel requirements that apply to the state of Hawaii as a whole:
- All travelers to Hawaii must register in the Hawaii Safe Travels program. This means you'll need to fill out the Hawaii Travel and Health Form 24 hours prior to departure, which will allow you to obtain a QR code that you'll need to show upon arrival on the islands. You’ll also have your temperature screened upon arrival at your Hawaii airport.
- All travelers to Hawaii will either need to show proof of U.S. vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their last leg of departure. If you arrive without either of these items, you will be subject to mandatory quarantine for 10 days or the duration of your trip, whichever is shorter, at your personal expense.
Unvaccinated and international travelers
- If you have been vaccinated outside the U.S. or are not vaccinated at all and plan to travel to Hawaii, you will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your final leg of departure.
- The only acceptable COVID-19 tests are the NAAT type from a lab certified as one of Hawaii's Trusted Testing and Travel Partners.
Make sure that your testing location is a certified testing partner (luckily, major pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are on the list). You'll also need to make sure you're getting the correct type of test (the Molecular lab test PCR/NAAT). Rapid tests are not accepted.
There are no exceptions for these requirements — travelers who don't comply may be quarantined or sent back home.
- There are no longer any travel restrictions for traveling between Hawaiian islands.
- Travelers cannot receive a NAAT type of test upon arrival at the airport. Your negative test result needs to be uploaded to the Safe Travels portal or printed out before you depart, and a hard copy of your negative test result is also required for entry into Hawaii.
Hawaii Digital Health Pass: Vaccination exemption and the Hawaii SMART Health Card
What is vaccination exemption? Starting the 15th day after your second vaccine dose, you can enter Hawaii without a quarantine or a negative COVID-19 test, by showing proof of vaccination in the U.S. or its territories.
You'll need to upload your vaccination record to the Travel Exemption/Exception section in the Hawaii Safe Travels portal to obtain a travel entry QR code. You must also bring a hard copy of your vaccination record when arriving in Hawaii.
You can also upload your vaccination record to Digital Health Pass Partners, which include Azova, Clear and CommonPass. This will allow you to have expedited airport processing without having to show a hard copy of your vaccination record.
What is the Hawaii Smart Health Card? Similar to vaccine passport apps used by California and New York, the Hawaii SMART Health Card shows proof of vaccination to gain entry into restaurants, gyms, bars, businesses and other social establishments.
The card is also available through the Hawaii Safe Travels portal, but the SMART Health Card QR code is different from the other Safe Travels QR code required for entry into Hawaii. The Hawaii SMART Health Card cannot be used as proof of vaccination at the airport when you arrive in Hawaii.
As of Sept. 15, 2021, Maui and Oahu require all Hawaii residents and visitors to show their Hawaii SMART Health Card for indoor dining, gyms, bars and other social establishments.
Requirements by island
In addition to the strict Hawaii entry requirements above, Maui has a few of its own additional requirements for entry:
- All visitors and residents must show their Hawaii SMART Health Card with proof of vaccination to dine indoors or visit gyms, bars, businesses and other social institutions.
- Masks are required indoors.
- Maui County recommends downloading the AlohaSafe Alert app, an exposure notification app intended to curb the spread of COVID-19.
- Maui also encourages travelers to participate in the Maui County Travel Testing Program, which offers a free COVID-19 test 72 hours after arriving in Maui. However, neither of these are requirements for entry.
Kauai only follows the statewide Hawaii entry requirements. Kauai is currently in Tier 5 of its COVID-19 reopening strategy, which means social gatherings are restricted to 25 people indoors and 75 people outdoors. Masks are required indoors.
In addition to the other entry restrictions required by the entire state of Hawaii, Oahu is also participating in the Safe Access Oahu program.
- As of Sept. 13, 2021, all patrons must show their Hawaii SMART Health Card with proof of vaccination as well as identification to dine indoors, or visit gyms, businesses, bars and other establishments.
- If you are not vaccinated, you must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours to enter the above establishments.
- Children 12 years and under who are not eligible to get vaccinated are exempt from this rule.
Oahu is currently in Tier 5 of its reopening strategy, meaning that group gathering sizes are still restricted. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 25. Masks are required indoors.
Hawaii: the Big Island
The Big Island only insists on the statewide Hawaii entry requirements. Masks are required indoors.
Can unvaccinated people still visit Hawaii?
Yes, unvaccinated people and international travelers can still travel to Hawaii, However, they will need to jump through more hoops than domestic travelers and those who have been vaccinated in the United States:
- Travelers will need to register in the Hawaii Safe Travels program and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your final leg of departure.
- The test must be a NAAT from one of Hawaii's specific Trust Testing and Travel Partners.
- All visitors to Hawaii, including those from Japan, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Tahiti who arrive in Hawaii without an acceptable negative COVID-19 test will be subject to mandatory quarantine at their own expense.
Best cards for Hawaii travel
The best cards for Hawaii travel will be those that allow you to earn miles on Hawaiian Airlines or your Hawaii flight carrier, and credit cards that earn cash back on purchases you're likely to make during your trip.
Here are a few of our top choices for the best credit cards for Hawaii travel:
Should you travel to Hawaii right now?
If you can postpone your trip until after October, we would highly recommend waiting to travel to Hawaii. While Hawaii tourism is possible right now, the rules are numerous and complicated. Along with the various restrictions and entry requirements, the governor of Hawaii and Hawaiian tourism agencies have recently asked tourists to postpone coming until it has this surge of COVID-19 delta variant cases under control.
Hawaii travel restrictions FAQs
What are the components of the pre-travel testing program in Hawaii?
The components of the pre-travel testing program in Hawaii are registering in the Hawaii Safe Travels program and showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of your final leg of departure. The negative test must be a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from one of Hawaii's Trust Testing and Travel Partners. Failure to complete these requirements will result in mandatory quarantine.
Is a negative test result required to travel to the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Whether or not a negative COVID-19 test result is required to board a flight to the mainland United States from Hawaii will depend on which particular state you are traveling to. For the most part, the answer is no.
Does Hawaii have COVID-19 restrictions?
Yes, there are a number of COVID-19 restrictions in place for Hawaii right now. Please explore the rest of this article for further details.
Does Hawaii have travel restrictions right now?
Yes, Hawaii does have travel restrictions right now, but there is an exemption for travelers who have been vaccinated in the United States. Regardless of your vaccination status, be sure to do thorough research and make sure you adhere to all requirements and restrictions in place before arriving in Hawaii to avoid a mandatory quarantine.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here
The information related to Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.