a high angle view of a rocky cliff with Nā Pali Coast State Park in the background
Image by Kathy VanDeventer from Pixabay

“Shut it down”. Hawaii reopens to travelers from the US mainland without quarantine in just over a week, provided they bring a recent negative covid-19 test result. But the drama to get to this point has been substantial, particularly in Kauai and outer islands.

Amid flaring social and economic tensions, Hawaii pushed back numerous previous reopening dates as it explored testing options, and not all counties are on board with the new plans.

Kauai’s Mayor was among the first to request the ability from Hawaiian Governor David Ige to add additional layers of safety, aiming to quarantine travelers upon arrival onto the island using the ‘resort bubble’ program, before a second covid-19 test would be taken. That request has now been quashed.

a large mountain with green vegetation and blue water

Hawaii Shuts Down Kauai’s Resort Bubble

The timing was peculiar. When Hawaii announced the return of quarantine free travel, Kauai announced a resort bubble program, which would confine all tourist arrivals to their hotel or resort, with electronic monitoring.

Kauai then announced plans to ignore the ‘no quarantine’ plans, and force all travelers arriving on Kauai to quarantine for 3 days, before taking a second test, at which point they’d be ‘sprung’ from their obligation to remain on resort grounds.

The plan from Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami required approval from Hawaiian Governor David Ige, and the Governor has now told Mayor Kawakami and other local officials to scrap their additional covid-19 plans. Quarantine free travel will go ahead for arrivals into Hawaii, including Kauai, from October 15th onward. At least, for now.

Responding to the news, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami remarked…

While this news is disappointing, we have said since day one that we must be flexible and ready to adapt to our ever-changing environment in order to keep our community safe. Today is no different.

We will keep moving forward and utilize our resources to help protect our residents… Our proposed pilot was intended to augment the state’s pre-travel testing program. Our county administration has been clear that a single pre-arrival testing program alone does not provide the needed level of protection for our Kauai community.”Derek Kawakami, Mayor, Kauai

Kauai is said to have already ordered 15,000 covid-19 testing kits in anticipation of their ‘resort bubble’ plans being approved, which must now be repurposed for other use. Other mayors are also rebelling against plans, using their platform to express concern with the program and even potentially opt out, like Big Island.

a large body of water next to a rocky cliff

Hawaii Travel Goes Ahead As Planned

The news may be controversial in Kauai, but potential visitors now have their trips back on track, without fear of ever changing restrictions, with the exception of Big Island, on the news that Mayor Kim plans to opt out.

A 14 day quarantine remains for intra-island travel, but those landing in Honolulu who do not leave the airport before connecting onward will be exempt from the restriction. Further island hopping would result in 14 days of quarantine.

Hawaii created much confusion during numerous pushbacks to quarantine free travel reopening dates, and a new minefield of myriad rules between each country is seen a step too far, with the economy reeling from thousands of job losses.

Hawaii travel will go ahead on October 15th without the need to quarantine, provided visitors obtain a recent negative covid-19 test. Airlines including United, Hawaiian and Alaska plan to assist visitors with rapid testing access prior to flight, at a cost.

Visitors to Kauai and other counties will be able to enjoy the Hawaiian islands from day one, without electronic monitoring bracelets. With most open on the islands and fewer people traveling, it could be your best trip to Hawaii yet.

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...

Join the Conversation


  1. Interesting how states like Hawaii and NY just put the constitution on hold during Covid. Interstate commerce (and travel) is the federal government responsibility, not states or counties. Fine to have mask or whatever requirements for all people, but controlling interstate travel and discriminating against visitors from other states is a blatant violation, regardless of how effective it may or may not be. If you’re going to discriminate, why not force vulnerable populations to quarantine continuously? That would at least be a logical way to reduce deaths if you’re going to trample on people’s rights.
    With the precedent set, next time it will take less and less of a “crisis” to put your rights on hold.

    1. So just don’t go to Hawaii. The locals can’t stand the tourists anyways and tolerate them only for the money. Why do you want to go into that sort of garbage?

      1. Yes. this is good advice. Who goes where they’re not wanted. To be sure, the visitors will experience seriously bad vibes if not more physical manifestations for dangerous people.

    2. Alaska figured out how to safely allow in tourists. They may have fewer people than Hawaii, but their health care systems are just as remote and they have 2x more international points of entry than Hawaii and 60x the land area and border perimeter

    3. given the catastrophic ineptitude and calculated lying of the white house, extreme measures were called for

      1. Kauai is the most picturesque island it doesn’t have a bad angle.
        In my experience Kauai people are tremendously kind generous and patient with the paradise islands tourists

  2. NCL canceled our December Hawaii cruise. Not disappointed because I was already considering doing so due to Hawaii’s unpredictable rules.

    Lots of other great places to go instead.

  3. Why is there still a 2 week quarantine for interisland travel if they are going to remove the restrictions to out of state travel? This is blatant authoritarianism. The state needs the money from tourism, but it wants to maintain tyrannical control over the people. #PILAU #KUE

  4. I think like myself and many other local residents feels the same as our mayor and our counsil members feel a second testing should be in place upon arriving here on our island of kauai, as we held down our number of corona virus sense the pandemic and the lowest in all the islands due the leadership of Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami. Governor Ige should give Mr. Derek Kawakami Mayor of Kauai the go-ahead with the proposed second testing, and we can show the rest of the islands again lead by example that we can control this.

  5. Sad sad sad for kauai, whats up with governor Ige, kauai held its own with the lowest virus, let our mayor Derek Kawakami do whats right for our island our people . Let us stand strong

  6. I find it interestng that it took several months for these so called “experts” at the state level to devise a ill-fated plan to attempt to reopen the economy of Hawaii. This plan, however does not take into account the vulnerabilities of the health services and facilities on our neighbornislands. The island of Kauai should join with Hawaii Island and opt-out of the State’s program while continue to explore progressive options that would better save the people of Hawaii.

  7. Governor Ige. I’m sending you my medical bills if I contract Covid19. Worse yet, if I should pass from the virus, I will all expenses to you and the State of Hawaii.
    The mainland hasn’t gotten their act together. The state continues to have triple digets a day. And you want to open up Hawaii? This will be a short lived experiment and a degiment to your legacy. Would you please refer and review New Zealand’s proactive strategy?

  8. You let the tourist back in and slam the the people of Hawaii,what’s up with that?For us local’s that live here ,we need to 14 days lock down if we want to go visit our ohana on outter islands.and yet,really,Honestly,who does this really benefit?Safety is number one priority, Control,money,Greed,Let’s send all the vistors your House,Mr. Gov. Ige,P.s. We should take a vote and ask the people,for the people,and by the people,Be Honest fir once in your life,try it ,It’s so dam sad,x to clean House, I’m really trying to see the blessings in this situation,Gid be with you

  9. People making comments about visitors nit being welcome and only wanted fir the money have obviously never been to Hawaii. My favorite place to vacation with super nice people…even the drivers will yield their right of way! Go ahead stay away…better for me to enjoy uncrowded!

    1. Thank you. We’re not mean! We’re just, rightfully cautious and we’re not only thinking about our health and wellbeing but also yours.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *