Hawaii Beach

Flip off your flip flops, put down your ukulele and stop pressing your tragically hip Hawaiian shirt. Hawaii is pushing back its planned reopening of tourism yet again, and it may be longer than hoped.

After promises to reopen tourism in August, plans were then delayed until September, and just weeks later, Hawaii is once again applying the brakes to travel, in response to covid-19 uncertainty, and compounded failures to create robust testing protocols.

Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaii Travel Reopening Delays

Hawaii is quickly becoming a prime case study in the complexities and frustrations of rebooting travel in the covid-19 world, after a third failed deadline to reboot the vital tourism economy. Potential visitors have had enough, and the hard hit tourism industry has too.

Initial plans to reopen in August were delayed until September 1st, citing needs for increased covid-19 testing support and protocols.

Localised spikes in recent weeks, the highest since April, contributed to the reintroduction of intra-island quarantine protocols, leading many to suspect the September 1st opening date was never going to hold. Uncertainty kills demand, and right now, uncertainty is the operating principle.


The skepticism was well placed.


According to statements from Governor David Ige, in a Tuesday address to residents, quarantine free travel to Hawaii will not reopen until October 1st, at the very earliest. After August and September sailed by, just days before they were due to restart, there’s no reason to believe that date will stick either.

News of botched covid-19 testing protocols, and airport measures add to the frustrations, though current delays are blamed on spiking case counts, which is concerning for locals and visitors alike.

When Hawaii announced that come September 1st, passengers carrying a recent negative covid-19 test result would be eligible to bypass 14 day quarantine, bookings to the tropical paradise skyrocketed. Less than 11 days before travellers were due to arrive, many hotels and restaurants reopened in anticipation, only to find that those plans have been shelved.

Hawaii Beach

Making matters more complicated, many flights will still go ahead as planned, leaving travelers ineligible to automatically claim a refund. Hotels may also refuse refunds.


If the airline cancels, a refund is an option, but if you no longer wish to travel and the flight goes ahead, the rules are more complicated, and generally come down to covid-19 related travel flexibility policies, proactively offered by the airline.

For hotels, it’s much the same, where cancellation policies would still be in effect, leaving travellers in the lurch. Many chains are offering free cancellation up to 7 days in advance of arrival, while home shares and other options are more hit and miss.

There’s only so much travellers will put up with, and for many, a trip to Hawaii is now more stress than it’s worth. With vacation days booked off, non refundable reservations and unique circumstances, many now look elsewhere, in hopes of a 2020 getaway. The way Hawaii is going, 2021 may not even be a safe bet…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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