Vacationers won’t be the only ones relaxing on Kauai this spring: Soon travel restrictions to the island will be relaxing, too!

Starting Saturday, March 26, 2022, the so-called “Safe Travels” program launched for domestic visitors back in October of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will officially be a thing of the past. This means that if you are planning to travel to Kauai from the continental U.S. for work or vacation on or after this date, you will no longer need to create a Safe Travels account, provide your vaccination status, and take a COVID test before leaving home. Visiting the Hawaiian Islands is about to get a lot easier.

In a recent televised address, Hawaii Governor David Ige announced that the state will end the current mandatory five-day self-quarantine program at midnight on March 25th, as well. This program does have exceptions for those who are fully vaccinated or who can provide adequate proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. Currently, travelers must upload documentation to the Safe Travels site before departure, in addition to handing over a hard copy upon arrival. (Note: Digital vaccination cards through AZOVA, CLEAR and CommonPass will now satisfy this requirement.) 

“We started the Safe Travels program to protect the health, lives, and livelihoods of the people of Hawaii. The program put in place safety protocols that included a multi-layered screening and testing approach that kept our communities safe during the COVID-19 surges that endangered the most vulnerable of our citizens,” Ige said. “But right now, we are seeing lower case counts, and hospitalizations are coming down.” 

Kauai County Mayor, Derek Kawakami was quick with his praise. “We thank our entire state who came together, made tremendous sacrifices, and overcame the greatest challenge our society has faced in recent history,” he said. “We thank Governor Ige, the state Department of Health, and all of our partners across the islands, for your leadership and guidance. Most of all, we thank all of our small business owners, essential workers, working parents, kupuna, and most especially our keiki – for your compassion and resilience to see us to this significant turning point!” 

Proceeding with Caution

Some restrictions will remain: Travelers arriving in Hawaii on direct international flights must still abide by federal U.S. entry requirements, including the need to provide up-to-date vaccination documentation and a negative COVID test taken within 24 hours of travel. 

Additionally, the islands’ indoor mask mandate will remain in effect. In fact, Hawaii remains the only U.S. state with a mask mandate in place—and no word if it will be lifted any time soon. 

“Many states dropped their mask mandates earlier in the pandemic, only to have to reinstate them once the Delta variant surged. Hawaiʻi maintained its mask mandate and our consistency helped to keep COVID case numbers and hospitalizations as low as possible during the surge. It is also one of the reasons Hawaiʻi has the second lowest death rate in the country,” said Gov. Ige. “We are watching disease activity closely across the state, the country, and globally, and we will adjust accordingly to keep our entire community healthy – from keiki to kupuna.”

Always Paradise

Even at the height of the pandemic, travelers continued to view Kauai as an accessible paradise and arrived by the plane load to take advantage of the myriad outdoor activities. So much so, in fact, that the Hawaiian government was compelled to issue a plea to the public in August of 2021 to please stay away as the islands’ hospitals and ICUs were bursting at the seams. 

While these issues are thankfully well in hand now, the loosening of the Safe Travels program means even more visitors will start booking flights and heading to Kauai. The islands will be busier than ever, so securing your travel and ancillary activities well in advance is a must. Dining reservations, event spaces, activities and tours will all get snapped up quickly.  

Airlines are well aware of this impending demand and are starting to add more and more flights to Hawaii. Delta just announced that it will be adding three new routes by the end of 2022. Southwest recently added direct flights to Kauai. The best route to Kauai is direct to Lihue from a West Coast or East Coast hub. If no direct flights are available, a quick hop from Maui or Honolulu can work nicely, too.

Koloa Landing Resort is ready to help you start planning ahead! Our friendly operators are standing by to get you booked before the crowds. And for the latest-greatest info on travel restrictions (or lack thereof!), please visit Aloha and welcome back!

Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort