Recently, we made a bold choice to travel to Maui during a pandemic. It was not an easy decision and our plans changed several times but we made it. This post will cover what it is like…
What you need to know before going
Currently to Hawaiian government requires a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours or less before departure to avoid having to quarantine when you arrive. But, before booking, it’s probably best to check the latest rules.
Currently, in Alberta, COVID-19 tests are not available for travel purposes through the regular testing mechanisms however Dynalife does at a cost of $150 per test. And, they are an approved testing partner of the Hawaiian Government. If you live in other areas, the airlines typically have a partner that they can recommend to ensure that the turnaround will work for your flight.
We booked our tests for 48 hours prior to departure and received our results about 33 hours later. That was a bit tight so I would definitely recommend having a bit more time between the test and departure time.
A few days before leaving, you will need to create an account with the State of Hawaii Safe Travels. Once you have proof of your negative test, you will need to upload the proof. Once done, you will be sent a QR code via email. You will be asked for the QR code several times during your trip. Make sure that it is easily accessible. Also, have access to the proof of your negative result, you will be asked for that too.
Before leaving, make sure your health or travel insurance will cover you in the unlikely event that you did become infected with COVID-19 while on Maui.
As you board the plane, you will need to show both the QR codes and the negative test results. The flight was pretty uneventful.
We strongly recommend before heading to the airport that you check to see if food and drinks will be available on the flight and also if your favorite vendors are open at the airport. You don’t want to be stuck on a long flight with no food or water.
What you need to know about landing
Once you land, you will have been on a plane for a while, excited for your vacation to officially start but you will need to be patient.
As you deplane and make your way to the terminal, you will be subjected to verification by the Hawaiian authorities. You will once again be asked to provide your QR code and could be randomly selected to take a rapid COVID-19 test. We weren’t selected, but we heard that it’s about a 20 minute wait if you do get the test. Be patient, the lines can be long, but you will be done before your luggage is on the carousel.
If are renting a car of checking in at a hotel, don’t put your paperwork away just yet. We were asked for the proof of a negative test at the car rental place and for the QR code when checking in at the hotel.
What it is like on Maui now
Well the sun, the sand and the surf is as gorgeous as ever but we are in the middle of a pandemic so lot has changed. Businesses and people have suffered and are still suffering. Much of the island was closed for about 8 months to tourists, which is their main industry. Plan before you go. Make sure before you go to check to see if the place that you want to visit are open. For example, we were looking to rent a stand up paddle board. This is typically something easy to find, but this time only one place was open close to our hotel.
Currently, masks are mandatory, so you need to wear one pretty much everywhere. The beach, the pool and while you are eating and drinking are pretty much the only exceptions.
There is less capacity at hotels and restaurants and social distancing is required. So make reservations ahead of time. Be patient at these establishments. Many of them have just recently opened up after a long break. Tip the staff well (more than you normally would) many of them haven’t worked in a long time. Opt for small businesses instead of chains; they will be really happy to see you.
If you can afford to make it to Maui, this is not the time to be looking for a deal. Buy those souvenirs if you can… the island needs it more than ever.
How busy it is?
Compared to previous visits to Maui, it’s not very busy but it is getting busier. To put this in perspective, in November 2020 they had about 20% the visitors they would during a normal November.
What you need to keep in mind
We asked the Service Director at our hotel what the number one thing tourists should know about coming to Maui now. He stressed that visitors need to respect the culture and the people of Maui. They desperately need the tourists back for economic reasons, but they are justifiably nervous about it. They just want to be safe.
For Canadians wanting to go to leave the country, keep in mind that there is a 14 day quarantine. If you happen to be living in Alberta you might be able to take advantage of the International Border Testing Pilot Program to help reduce the quarantine time.
Is travelling to Maui right now worth it?
For us, the answer is yes. But, if any of this seems inconvenient or stressful for you, might want to wait.
If you decide to go, keep the following 4 things in mind:
- Be patient
- Spend money on local goods
- Understand the current restrictions
- Once you get there, follow the rules
If you are looking to check out more than one island, things get more complicated. Currently, you need a negative test to travel between islands within 72 hours of your flight. If you are looking to go to Kauai, things are even more complicated as you will need to quarantine for 10 days even with the negative test.
Here are a few of our favorite local Hawaiian businesses in case you are looking for some to offer your support. Some will even ship their products to you:
- Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop
- Honu Seafood and Pizza
- Anahola Granola
- Hali’imaile Distilling Company
- Koloa Rum Company
- Monkeypod Jam
- Aloha Spice Company
- Anakes Juice Bar
- Kauai Juice
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