a large mountain with green and brown cliffs and blue water

A vacation is a sacred thing, and a vacation to Hawaii holds a special place in many hearts. Of all the islands though, it’s hard to argue that there’s one more naturally stunning than Kauai.

Despite Hawaii reopening to transpacific visitors from the US mainland earlier this year, newly approved restrictions mean Kauai is once again largely off limits to visitors, at least off limits to anyone who doesn’t wish to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Kauai’s Quarantine Shuts Down Travel

Finding a destination without red tape these days is hard enough, but it gets even trickier when islands within the destination each have different policies.

When Hawaii reopened to international visitors possessing a negative covid-19 test, Kauai wished to opt out, or require a second test, but was flatly refused by Governor David Ige.

a large mountain with green vegetation and blue water

Despite research data suggesting only 1:1,000 passengers might test negative before departure and still bring the covid-19 virus to Kauai, and arrival data later proving that figure to actually be an even more favorable 1:1,500, Kauai didn’t want to take the risk. Now, Kauai has what it wants, and is choosing to require all arrivals onto the island to quarantine for 14 days.

For hotels, their employees and other island businesses just getting their feet back, it means another long season awaits, without any visitors. View From The Wing reports the Grand Hyatt Kauai has chosen to close for the foreseeable future, due to the total uncertainty around local laws and future restrictions.

Kauai’s safety fears are more understandably placed than others. Kauai has very few ICU beds available on the island, and even a handful of serious cases could create real dilemmas and resource strain. However, with Kauai’s Mayor Derek Kawakami running for Governor of Hawaii, many do see the move as a calculated political play, too.

What This Means For Hawaii Travel

Kauai has gone their own way, going against wider policy for arrivals into Hawaii which allow visitors with negative covid-19 tests to enjoy trips from day one. With 14 days of mandatory and strongly enforced quarantine, there’s niche demand for travel to the island at best, which means many resorts and restaurants will close.

When, and if, they open again is anyone’s guess. The issue with ever changing entry rules isn’t whether they’re correct, but how they impact future demand. It can take months for word to get out that a destination is happy for visitors again.

Hawaii Beach

Kauai’s previous plans for a shorter quarantine with a second test would offer a much increased layer of safety to Hawaii’s broader requirements, but also give travelers a chance to experience the island. Previous plans meant guests could quarantine at their resort, with monitoring to ensure they didn’t leave the property. Once a second test was taken, they’d be sprung from the quarantine.

For the immediate future, anyone not wishing to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival should leave Kauai out of their travel plans, and head for a different Hawaiian Island, or perhaps a different destination entirely. Or of course, until vaccines start to become more widely distributed, perhaps stay at home. We’re so close.

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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  1. Open Kauai now for people who test negative no visitors what to be in Kauai mayor’s jail cell no one is here or has jobs

  2. we just pulled the plug on our 10 year anniversary trip planned for 12/25 to Jan 9- who in their right mind would spend $7-8 thousand to sit in a hotel room for two weeks? Very disappointing; why not pre and post arrival testing with a 3-5 day quarantine?

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