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Travelling to Hawaii during Covid!  /_uploads/images/Covid-hawaii-flower.jpg


Let me start off by saying my experience travelling to Hawaii at the beginning of January this year was nothing but positive! Sure, I was a little nervous as I hadn’t flown anywhere since March last year, and I would have preferred not to have COVID testing… but with the assistance of my Travel Advisor, and equipped with the information that I needed to follow, it was relatively pain free! I have provided a number of resources below… but first, here are the steps that my husband, York and I followed:

  • I booked my flight with Maritime Travel to travel from Vancouver to Honolulu early January. For the month of February, WS will be flying to Honolulu, Maui & the island of Hawaii (Kona) weekly from Vancouver & weekly to Honolulu & Maui from Calgary

GOOD TIP: Pre-assign your seat at time of booking to enable to you to have a better choice of location onboard.  There may be a charge, pending the fare type you have purchased, but it is worth it.  There are some exit rows with more leg room, or some configuration that may work best for you and your travelling companions.

Currently, WS has a ‘Flexible change or cancellation’ policy, where there is no fee to change or cancel flights if booked before February 28, 2021.  The full value of your cancelled flight will be credited to a ‘Travel Bank’ which is valid for 24 months from the date of issue.  In addition, Westjet offers no-charge COVID-19 insurance coverage for travel to and from the US until August 31, 2021.

  • My Travel Advisor provided me with contact information for the CarePoint Medical Clinic (see information below) and I secured an appointment for a molecular PCR test that coincided with my flight time (within 72 hours of my scheduled departure). I received an email approximately 36 hours after my test with my test results. They indicate most results are provided within 24-48 hours. I have provided additional options below.
  • I downloaded the ArriveCAN app on my phone and followed the directions – providing the Canadian government my flight information. Once completed, it will provide you with an ArriveCAN Receipt. Have this handy when you check-in for your flight as the Airline Check-in agent will ask to see this. This is what the ArriveCAN Receipt will look like:
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  • The next step is to set up a Safe Travels Hawaii account on the travel.hawaii.gov website. Instructions are below. Download your PCR test results on this site, which MUST be done prior to departing Canada. Full details are below (to avoid quarantine when travelling to Hawaii). When you download the ‘one page PDF’ of your negative PCR test results, you will see this (screen shot below) & receive a ‘QR Code’ (sent to your email). I am sure I am not the only one that didn’t know what a QR code was… it looks like a bar code like this:

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    - You will be required to show this QR code to the officials upon entry into Hawaii.
    - You will be required to show this screen shot of your negative COVID test from the travel.hawaii.gov website (as above) to any hotel front desk when checking in.
    IMPORTANT TO NOTE:  The /_uploads/images/Covid-hawaii-travel-exempt-yes.png does NOT show up until the Hawaiian government officials have scanned your QR Code at the airport upon arriving in Hawaii. It will show ‘pending’ until scanned. So, you will need to go back into the travel.hawaii.gov site before checking into your hotel… you can do this upon arrival, using their WIFI if necessary!

GOOD TIP: Do a screen shot of your ArriveCAN Receipt & the QR code that is provided once you complete your profile on the Safe Travels Hawaii site. ‘Save’ these two to your Photos. That way you don’t have to rely on finding these again and/or using your Data upon arrival in Hawaii. The screen shots worked perfectly… even when the Hawaii officials scanned the QR code.

In addition, when the travel.hawaii.gov profile has changed to ‘Yes’ from pending… screen shot it then, as other entities may ask for this… such as golf courses, some restaurants (although few) and possibly excursions.


Last step before departure:

  • Check-in for your flight on-line - 24 hours in advance! Have your Nexus Card and/or passport handy and be ready to provide the address of where you will be staying in Hawaii.
Now, I am ready to travel! The above sounds like a lot, but everything is pretty straight forward and easy to navigate through, but give yourself time to get the paperwork out of the way!


At the airport:

Travel during COVID looks different! Activity is much less as there are far fewer flights. Not all of the services and amenities will be open. In Vancouver, there was one Hudson’s News location open and Tim Hortons, but many shops & restaurants were closed, including Starbucks in the Trans-border lounge. Depending on your flight time, Duty Free may be closed.

Face masks are required while in the airport and on the airplane.

GOOD TIP: Pack some snacks and consider eating prior to arriving at the airport. Ensure you don’t pack liquids as you can purchase these at the airport at Hudson’s or Timmy’s.

  • Check-in at least 2 hours in advance of your flight. Have your ArriveCAN Receipt ready along with your passport to show the Airline Check-in staff.
  • When passing through security, you will come across this sign, and there is an over-head ‘temperature check’ that you may completely miss… but your temperature will be taken.

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  • Nothing different going through Customs… they will check your passport and boarding cards. Now that you are through Customs, make your way to the gate. Masks are required the entire time you are in the airport, unless you are at a food establishment and actively eating or drinking.
  • Boarding flight – face masks are required
  • During flight – face masks are required unless you are actively eating or drinking. There is very limited service while onboard, and the ‘buy onboard’ has been suspended on some airlines. Best to come prepared with some snacks to see you through!

Arrival in Hawaii:

GOOD TIP: Plan your transportation in advance. Taxis are available, but an UBER generally costs less and they have better protocols for dealing with COVID (ie: cleanliness of cars between rides, etc). If you booked a WestJet Vacations package, they generally offer transportation or you may purchase this in advance. Your Maritime Travel Advisor can assist you in booking a car, particularly if you are flying to Maui or Kona or staying outside of the Honolulu area on Oahu. We stayed in the Ko Olina area on Oahu (40 minutes outside of Honolulu), so a car was a must!

  • Have your QR Code screen shot ready for Hawaii officials upon arrival!
We were through security and heading for our UBER within 20 minutes… so very streamlined and well organized!

IMPORTANT: If you do NOT have your QR Code, you will be required to quarantine in Hawaii for 10 days… no exceptions!


During our stay:

We stayed 15 days on Oahu… starting with 2 nights in Waikiki (took an UBER from the airport) and 13 nights in the Ko Olina area, about 40 minutes outside of Honolulu. We picked up a car rental on the morning of Day 3 by taking an UBER to the car rental location at the airport. Some rental locations in other centres have limited hours or have not re-opened just yet.

We had an amazing time, and restrictions are similar to what we experience at home. Wearing masks is mandatory when walking through hotels or shops and when arriving at restaurants and going to your table. While in Waikiki, 90% of folks were wearing a mask walking along Kalakaua Avenue (the main shopping area in Waikiki). The law in Hawaii is that you are required to wear a mask when you are unable to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. Masks are required in State Parks, but not in other areas… like on the beach, hiking or sightseeing where social distancing can be easily adhered to. Outside of Waikiki, there are less crowds, so social distancing is much easier, and less masks required.

I felt completely safe during my entire trip and there was never a time when I felt uneasy or uncomfortable! The COVID cases are very low in Hawaii and the Hawaiian government has done a very good job in keeping it that way.

What to expect at hotels – Masks are required when walking through the hotels, in elevators and until you arrive in your room. Some facilities and amenities may be limited. In both hotels we stayed in, the pool areas were fully operational as well as the fitness facilities. Some hot tubs were closed, and some have put restrictions on how long you can utilize the pool area or pool time or fitness facility time needs to be pre-booked with their activity’s staff.

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What to expect at restaurants – Masks are required when entering a restaurant, until you are seated. Many restaurants have been closed during COVID, but most have re-opened since mid-December. Although most allow drop-ins, I would recommend reservations when you can to avoid disappointment as there is limited seating due to social distancing. Most Hawaii restaurants are available on ‘Open Table’, or have a reservation system on-line.

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Uh-oh… I think there is a theme here! I was in search of the best Mai Tai… and I have to say, Merriman’s on Maui & the MonkeyPod on Oahu are hard to beat!!


What to expect with activities – Some excursions have yet to be re-opened, but snorkeling has always been a Hawaii favourite. If you are an avid snorkeler, I would suggest you bring your own gear this time around. There are activities on the beach with many resorts – such as paddle boards, kayaks, banana boats, catamaran tours, etc. You may want to have your Travel Advisor check with the hotel on available activities. I am an avid hiker… so I enjoyed many hikes on Oahu – check the AllTrails app for opening and closures. Most hikes are available now, but state parks may have limited days/hours. The Diamond Head state park was only open Thursday through Sunday… and if you go, make sure to have a Dole Pineapple Whip or smoothie!!

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What to expect in general – Beautiful spaces, less crowds, fewer on the beaches & boardwalks, beautiful blue skies & sunshine, warm trade-winds and Hawaiian hospitality. The locals survive on tourism, and they are very happy to see tourists back!

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And amazing sunsets:
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Returning to Canada:

Starting on January 7, 2021, air travellers are required to provide proof of a negative Covid test. See below for full details, along with reference to the Government of Canada website and COVID testing sites on Oahu, Maui & the island of Hawaii.


Now the specific details, links and helpful resources you will need to take the stress out of planning your Trip to Hawaii, during COVID

Pre-flight testing for Hawaii https://www.westjet.com/en-ca/travel-info/covid-testing#hawaii

Guests originating in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta travelling on a WestJet operated flight to Hawaii can now get tested for COVID-19 prior to departure, eliminating quarantine time upon arrival. We’ve collaborated with testing partner LifeLabs in British Columbia and Ontario to offer State of Hawaii-approved pre-departure testing. In addition, we are working with laboratory partner DynaLIFE to offer pre-departure testing for travel to Hawaii from Alberta. A negative COVID test within 72-hours of departure will exempt the guest from the state’s required 10-day quarantine.
Testing is not required for children under 5.


Labs & fees:

  • Guests in Alberta, book a DynaLIFE test for a fee of $150
  • Guests in Ontario, book a LifeLabs test for a fee of $199 plus tax
  • Guests in BC can book a test for a fee of $250 plus tax at the following LifeLabs partner clinics:
    o Bon Voyage Medical – Coquitlam, BC
    o Iridia Medical – Vancouver, BC
    o Care Point Medical Clinic – Vancouver, BC. Care Point is an approved State of Hawaii testing entity for WestJet & Air Canada passengers & is the facility that I used when travelling to Hawaii.

To avoid quarantine when travelling to Hawaii, guests must:

  1. Set up a Safe Travels Hawaii account for each travelling adult at travel.hawaii.gov

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  2. Take a test at a DynaLIFE (AB), LifeLabs (ON) or LifeLabs (BC - see above) participating pharmacy or clinic location within 72-hours of their flight departing to Hawaii
  3. Complete the Travel Health Questionnaire and upload a PDF copy of your negative test results on Safe Travels within 24 hours of their flight departure to receive a personalized QR code
  4. Display the Safe Travels QR code and negative test result from DynaLIFE or LifeLabs during boarding
  5. Complete the final screening process upon arrival into Hawaii by showing the personalized QR code, negative test results, government ID, and be prepared to demonstrate their method of communication for the daily health check-in (i.e. cell phone)
  6. Enjoy Aloha!

Important
All guests traveling to Hawaii are required to complete the Hawaii Safe Travels form and have a personalized QR code to present, regardless of the intent to complete a pre-arrival COVID testing process.

If a negative test is not uploaded or manually verified prior to departure, guests will be required to quarantine for 10 days on arrival.

 See Hawaii entry requirements

All links (as outlined in this information page) are found by clicking on this website:
https://www.westjet.com/en-ca/travel-info/covid-testing#hawaii 


Returning to Canada
COVID-19 testing required for people flying into Canada – starting January 7, 2021, air travellers 5 years of age or older are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular PCR test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada. In addition, a 14 Day Quarantine or Isolation is still required. For complete details on the Government of Canada site, see:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html


Hawaii - COVID-19 Testing and Screening

Testing sites recommended by the State of Hawaii – https://hawaiicovid19.com/testing-isolation-quarantine/ I was on Oahu and used the facility at the Honolulu airport, run by the Kidney Foundation – which was great!

Oahu:

The National Kidney Foundation Hawai’i Consortium through an agreement with the City and County of Honolulu now offers a simple process to test for COVID-19.

Available for $125 per person

  • Adults and children over five years of age can be tested
  • No appointment necessary
  • The cost for the screening is $125. This includes a doctor's order provided by the NKFH Consortium for the COVID-19 test only
  • Payment for COVID-19 screening is required at the time of service by credit or debit card
  • You will be notified with your lab results in 3-6 hours and information on next steps if your lab results are positive
  • Interisland Pre-Travel Trusted Testing Partner

MUST Pre-Register at kidneyhi.workplace.lumisight.com

TIP: Testing site is at the Honolulu Airport – Terminal 2… far end next to Baggage Claim 31. Park in the Terminal 2 Parking lot and follow directions below:

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Maui:
https://mauinuistrong.net/covid-info/testing


Island of Hawaii
https://coronavirus-response-county-of-hawaii-hawaiicountygis.hub.arcgis.com/pages/covid-19-testing

  • Facilities change pending demand. See above link for sites available & mobile testing sites.<

I hope you find these resources, tips & general information helpful to travel to Hawaii during COVID.

Mahalo!
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