Hawaii is Now Open to Tourists to Visit During the Pandemic

Carly Hoskins, Staff Writer

The months of February and March seem like years leading up to the highly anticipated spring break. For many at Miramonte, this break meant traveling to a new or loved vacation spot, a common place being the relaxing and coveted destination of  Hawaii. But with the timely and unfortunate arrival of coronavirus and mandatory lockdown to our country in March, students were stuck at home during this favorite week of the school year.  Instead, spring break was spent exploring local hikes or binging Netflix at home. Since March, the beautiful islands have still been blocked off to travellers or requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Finally, Hawaii, one of the most popular travel destinations for Orinda residents, plans to open again. 

Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, announced that, starting Oct. 15, United States travelers from the mainland will be allowed to enter the Hawaiian islands without quarantining for a 14-day period. Incoming “Haoles”, or non-native Hawaiians, must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test from the past 72 hours upon arrival. While Hawaii plans on opening up their islands on Oct. 15, the plan could very well change, as it did in August, September, and early-October, especially if Hawaii’s COVID-19 case numbers begin to rise around the new opening date. 

“If Hawaii opens up to the public with negative test results, my family will probably spend Thanksgiving break on the Big Island,” junior Dax Sherwood said. Vacations to Hawaii will look a bit different than normal because of social distancing rules.

Previous Hawaiian travel was allowed but with major precautions. Travellers were forced to spend 14 days in their hotel rooms or houses, not even allowed in any other part of their hotel, let alone the streets or beaches. After the quarantine was finished, they were safe to continue with their visit, but to many, this quarantine made their trip too expensive and not worth it. Without the mandatory recent negative test result, travelers would be forced to abide by the old protocol of quarantining for 14 days, but with them, they are allowed to vacation freely upon arrival. 

In addition to the proof of negative test results, travelers must complete a “Safe Travels” questionnaire. This is a series of questions concerning your health and the details of your trip to verify that you do not pose a health-risk to the islands. To leave the airport and begin your trip, you must provide verification of this completed questionnaire and your test results.

“My family was planning on going to Hawaii for spring break, and because of the travel ban, we ended up staying in Orinda. We made up for it in the summer by going on a roadtrip to Minnesota!” junior Thomas Quinnild said. During the summer, families of Orinda adapted to Hawaii’s travel ban by exploring other parts of California and the U.S. by car. Unfortunately, Hawaii was out of the picture for anyone not willing to endure the 14-day quarantine.

“If we are still distance learning in January, it is possible that my family will stay in Hawaii longer than winter break and do online school from there,” senior Hannah Klein said. Klein’s family owns a house on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“It was kind of a pain to get here because we had to get tested prior to landing in order to not do the 14-day quarantine. When we landed, we had to get tested again at the airport. The lines were really long, and we had to wait there until we got our results back,” freshman Clara Grenning, whose family traveled to Hawaii after Oct. 15, said. 

Lifting this travel requirement for Hawaii will likely mean a great influx of travel to the islands this fall. The cost of flights from the Bay Area to the islands in late October and November are substantially lower than normal, with roundtrip rates starting at around $400. With school online, students have the ability to learn from anywhere with an internet connection. Families now have the freedom to travel for long periods of time without worrying about disrupting their children’s education.

Now that the state has successfully opened up to the public and has a secure system of checking for COVID-19, a great number of Lamorinda families might take advantage of rare low prices on flight and stays by vacationing there this fall and winter during holiday breaks or even during school. Even with long lines and numerous tests, the amazing destination is definitely worth it. Families will finally get to make up for their lost spring break getaways or long-anticipated summer treat. Now that Hawaii has finally reopened, the relaxing beaches and beautiful views of Hawaii will be too tempting for some families not to consider a trip there.