We have traveled to Hawaii six times now, and we hope to someday own property here – we love it THAT much. And not just because it’s a beautiful tropical paradise that smells like happiness and makes our souls soar as soon as we step off of the plane, but because — okay, those reasons are accurate, and enough, quite frankly. If I had to describe Hawaii in one sentence I’d say “Hawaii makes me want to be a better person in every way”. That’s how good it makes me feel. Truly.
We have been to Maui twice, Kauai twice, and The Big Island twice. Never to Oahu because it seems “big city” and that’s something we don’t want on vacation. However…we hope to island hop there at some point for a day or two to see many important and interesting things to experience there.
We have friends who live on both Kauai and the Big Island. Maui, being our first island, holds a very special place in our hearts. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the islands as we flew over them and my first tropical beach experience on Baldwin Beach on the north shore of Maui. White sand, blue water — literally a dream.
We’ve done some tourist-y things but mostly we like to go to Hawaii with our only real solid plan to be to begrudgingly catch our return flight home. We have parasailed, snorkeled molokini crater, seen lava as its flowing, been on hikes, snorkeled in the dark with manta rays, and a few other things. We have stayed directly on the shore, in cabins in the forest, with friends next to rooster farms and otherwise (oh I’ll never forget those roosters), and had views of golf courses and partial ocean views. We love all of these places in different ways.
This is not a post about all things warm and fuzzy but more of an obligatory post about trying to get here right now, in this state of the world. We have joked multiple times that it feels like we are traveling to the warm version of Russia.
I understand and respect Hawaii protecting their people and land – truly – but the science is flawed and it’s nowhere near a seamless hassle-free inexpensive experience.
Luckily, I’m a rule follower who will pay for convenience. This being said we paid $170 each for a covid-19 test two days before we flew out. We both already had covid and I know, we don’t know if we can get it again, whatever. We had to drive an hour+ north of where we live to get these tests administered (missing work, etc) and anxiously (or not anxiously) wait for the results. Shout out to Carbon Health – not for being the cheapest but for the guarantee and delivery of our results before 2pm the day before we flew out.
Just getting the test is the tip of the iceberg. You also need to fill out a form on a website with information detailing your trip. Then, once you get your results you load the PDFs to your trip and a QR code is created. This code is what you show every Tom, Dick, and Mary at the airport to grant you access to paradise. Many websites for the airlines and otherwise say to print this and that and so on, this is not necessary. However, each island and airline is different which makes things even more confusing and each airline partners with different labs. It is, what I would call, a massive stressful shitshow.
Luckily, like I said, I will pay for convenience and guarantee so we got here with the “minimal stressors” I mention above and $340 less in our pockets, but that was NOT necessarily the experience other people traveling at the same time as us had. Not at all. And I want to share cliffs notes to their stories so people are aware of how this can go.
I want to give a special shout out to Alaska Air for legitimately being the company with the BEST customer service I’ve ever had. Every single individual I’ve ever talked to has been helpful and kind and they consistently go above and beyond. I appreciate this even more after the experience my friends and parents had trying to get here flying with another airline. Guess which one? 🤣 Not all of it is terrible, matter of fact, Manager Tim at the Portland airport helped my mom in tremendous fashion. (Thank you Tim!) but before his assistance I will say, this airline and the lab they partnered with would have had hell to pay if it had been me they were dealing with. I handle stress a lot different than my mother, in just about every bad way possible.
Sure, the initial tests through the contracted lab this particular airline used were cheaper and much more conveniently located but the lab LOST THE TESTS. Read that again…
Then they were audacious enough to finally call and reimburse everyone the day they were at the airport to leave. WHAT?! In what world is this ok? The tests were administered two days ago.
Lucky for our friends, they could get a rapid test at the airport – my parents, however, had to wait another day to fly out. Oh and did I mention when traveling to the big island you also get another rapid test upon arrival? As if that matters at all. They said “what if you got it on the plane”….just don’t even get me started with my rant on this particular sentence – *face palm*
Even more note worthy, when traveling to Maui if you want to get local discounts (also called Kama’aina) while on your vacation, you can “opt-in” for another test two days into your trip. What?!?
Kauai’s rules are the most strict and make the most sense, however, it did stop us from traveling there this time.
Oahu is the most chill, and the most crowded, so I’m not sure it makes sense in the vision of trying to protect the island and its people but as a visitor I wish every island followed their ways 🤣
Last but not least. If you have been on an island 3 days and were cleared before you left you can travel freely between islands, I believe. It’s all very fluid and confusing. So, by the time you read this, the rules are probably different.
The cost is what it is but the convenience is seriously lacking. So, if you want to go to Hawaii, get your ducks in a row and plan to follow rules you might hate. Plan for mistakes outside of your control and a potential of delayed travels or inconvenience. To us, it’s worth it. We love it there and will do just about anything to arrive on their sandy shores as long as both are living and breathing.
I also want to stress, we love Hawaii, and I fully encourage anyone with an inkling to see it…GO! I will support this beautiful place and their choices till I die, but go into it knowing it might be a hassle….a worthy hassle…but a hassle no less. The visits to the islands dropped 71% after covid. Tourist money is one of the largest (if not the largest) industries there, so GO!
Till next time friends, stay beautiful, and visit Hawaii – you will love it.