What’s New on Oahu > Dec 2021
*This is a copy of the Waikiki Beach Stays Monthly Mailer (sent out 30 Dec 2021). Click here to subscribe for future editions.
Welcome to Waikiki Beach Stays Monthly Mailer, the best place to keep up to date with everything happening on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
As 2021 comes to a close, we wanted to squeeze in one more update!
The highlight of December has been the return of direct flights between Hawaii and Australia on Hawaiian Airlines. This enabled me (Ashlee) to return to Sydney to spend Christmas with my family! I was lucky enough to fly in the Business Class Cabin on the way over. The lie-flat seat, amenity kit, first-class menu, entertainment and staff were all incredible.
BTW Hawaiian Airlines launched a New Year’s Sale with return Sydney, Australia (SYD) to Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) fares from AU$869 pp! Travel dates from 3 Feb-2 Apr 2022.
With the return of international travel to Hawaii, it’s a good time to summarize Hawaii’s travel requirements. The procedure for travel to Hawaii depends on whether you are a domestic or international traveler e.g. whether you fly into Hawaii from the US mainland and its territories (domestic) or another country (international).
- Domestic travelers from the US and its territories must adhere to the Safe Travels Hawaii program. This includes registering your trip online, uploading proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test with a Trusted Testing and Travel Partner within 72-hours of departure, and completing the Travel Health Questionnaire within 24-hours of departure. There is talk of tightening these requirements.
- International travelers on a direct flight to Hawaii must align with CDC federal international requirements.
- Non-direct international travelers entering Hawaii from a US state or territory are treated as domestic travelers and must adhere to the Safe Travels Hawaii program (as above). Please note, non-direct international travelers would still need to follow CDC federal international requirements for any initial direct flight into the United States.
*The above information is subject to change. It is also important that you confirm and abide by the travel requirements for your return flight and destination.
If you’re planning a trip to Waikiki next year, please download our free Waikiki Map 2022. It’s extremely useful, you can look at the star ratings of every hotel (the lower the star rating, the lower the price usually) and compare their resort fees and parking rates. It also highlights nearby attractions, grocery stores, farmers markets and our personal favorite places to eat and drink.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming trip to Hawaii please don’t hesitate to email us.
Hauoli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year in Hawaiian), may all your dreams come true in 2022!
Ash & Keli‘i
COVID-19 Hawaii Travel Updates
- As of 28 Dec 2021: There have been 104,597 cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii to date, resulting in 1,082 deaths. Average daily new cases 1,417 island-wide (1,216 Oahu, 93 Maui County, 36 Kauai and 72 Hawaii Island).
- Hawaii lifted restrictions on social gatherings, as well as gyms, bars and restaurants, on 1 Dec 2021. Proof of vaccination (or a negative COVID test result taken within 48-hours) is in place for indoor venues, along with the indoor mask mandate.
- Hawaii (like the rest of the world) is currently experiencing a COVID surge due to the omicron variant. This week was the first time Hawaii has seen 3,000+ new infections a day. It’s a “wait and see” approach as to whether restrictions will be reinstated.
- Honolulu has made Bounce’s list of “Top 10 US Destinations Where Staying In An Airbnb Is Cheaper Than A Hotel”. For groups up to 5-6 people, consider renting out our Airbnbs in Waikiki. They’re spacious 2-bedroom apartments with parking, and are great value when compared to booking multiple hotels rooms or a large suite.
- After 21-months, Hawaiian Airlines resumed service between Sydney (SYD) and Honolulu (HNL) in mid-Dec 2021. The flight operates five days a week and is 10 hours in duration. Click here for Australia to Hawaii travel requirements.
- Australia’s national airline, Qantas, restarted a large number of international flights this month including Sydney (SYD) to Honolulu (HNL) on 20 Dec 2021.
- The Consolidated Rent-A-Car (CONRAC) facility is now open at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). Take a short walk from Terminal 2 baggage claim or catch a shuttle to access car rental services from this five-story building including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Payless, Sixt and Thrifty.
- Aloha Motorsports, Hawaii’s premier motorsports experience company, has returned to the International Market Place. It has a wide selection of rental units ranging from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Polaris Slingshots and a 1966 Shelby Cobra.
- Accommodation prices just went up… expect a 3% Oahu transient accommodations tax (OTAT) in addition to the current 10.25% transient accommodations tax (TAT). This 13.25% tax rate applies to all forms of accommodation on the island.
- Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort’s $80M renovation won “Best New Resort & Major Renovation in Hawaii” by the TravelAge West. Phase 1 included upgraded rooms and suites, new poolside furniture and artwork installations.
- MacNaughton, a Hawaii-based company that owns Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head, has just added Waikiki’s Hotel Renew to its portfolio. They intend to upgrade the boutique property and increase service offerings.
- UnCruise Adventures commenced operations in Hawaii at the end of Nov 2021 with a 100% full vaccination and testing requirements for all guests and crew. UnCruise operates Hawaiian Island adventure cruises on an intimate 36-guest boat.
- Large cruise ships are set to return to Hawaii in Jan 2021, with several scheduled to make port at Honolulu harbor. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises are some of the cruise lines with Hawaii in their itineraries.
- Royal Caribbean has new open-jaw sailings to and from Hawaii in 2023. Six sailings will either begin or end in Hawaii with stops to various island stops along the way.
Restaurants & Bars
- Hawaii’s iconic Liliha Bakery has opened their 4th location on the Grand Lanai of the International Market Place. It’s a Waikiki must-eat restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also stop by to grab a bakery treat, like their famous Coco Puffs!
- Herringbone Waikiki has reopened on the Grand Lanai at the International Market Place and is dishing up California coastal cuisine. Hit them up for dinner, daily Oyster Hour (4-6pm) or weekend brunch with flowing tropical mimosas.
- Kani Ka Pila Grille, a full-service poolside restaurant at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, has reopened with more outdoor seating, a larger stage and a new menu. This is Waikiki’s premier venue for live Hawaiian music by local performers.
- Nature Waikiki has opened in the old Paris Waikiki space on Seaside Avenue. This restaurant centers around sustainable island French cuisine. They aim to reduce their impact on the environment while supporting farmers that purvey local products.
- Find Sato Seafood, a brand new poke-focused shop on Kuhio Avenue. Choose a variety of poke bowls with fresh marinated fish, rice, salad and toppings.
- Donut King Hawaii has open it’s third shop on Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki (opposite the International Market Place). This is not a chain, it’s a locally owned business and their donuts are very popular. I’m a fan of their raspberry donut, and they’re known for their maple bacon donuts. You can also get croissants and other goodies.
- Hawaiian Cane Juice is now open at the Royal Hawaiian Center, find them in a kiosk at the entrance by The Royal Grove. Calamansi (lime), lilikoi (passionfruit) and pineapple are a few seasonal flavors you can have in your cane juice.
- Foodland Farms Ala Moana Center has a new cocktail bar, ELEVEN (named in honor of the center being Foodland’s 11th store). This is the second bar set within the supermarket, it features handcrafted cocktails, small plates and desserts.
- There’s a cute new Aloha Pineapple Cafe open on Diamond Head’s Monsarrat Avenue (15-minutes walk from the east end of Waikiki). It’s the perfect spot to grab a pre- or post- crater hike coffee, smoothie bowl or egg salad toast.
- A charcuterie shop Bubbly & Bleu has opened in Kaimuki (10-minutes drive from Waikiki). By day, pick up everything you need for the perfect meat and cheese board including local products like Manoa chocolate and Kailua honey. By night, learn how to build your own charcuterie kit or experience a chef’s table dining event.
- If you love a good brunch experience, head to Podmore in Downtown Honolulu. They offer an epic Full English Breakfast with fried eggs, bacon, pono pork sausage, black pudding, potatoes, mushroom, baked beans, tomato and fried bread.
Tours & Activities
- For fun and positive-impact activities in Hawaii check out local non-profit travel2change. This organization connects Hawaii travelers with unique volunteer opportunities across Hawaii’s islands.
- In the interest of public safety, boat tours to the USS Arizona Memorial at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial have been suspended due to issues with its shoreside dock. There is so much more to explore at Pearl Harbor, click here for tour options.
- For do-it-yourself GPS Audio Tours, download the Shaka Guide Oahu app. You can plug your earphones into your cellphone and take yourself on the Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour. If you’re hiring a car on Oahu, check out the self-drive itineraries including the East Oahu Shoreline Drive and Grand Circle Island Tour.
- Opal Fields has opened in Waikiki’s International Market Place. Staffed by gemologists and award-winning jewelry designers, they specialize in fine Australian opals, along with precious gems and diamonds.
- IT’SUGAR opened at Ala Moana Center in Nov 2021, marking the brand’s first store in Hawaii and 100th store in America. The “candy department store” sells hundreds of confections, and is known known for giant candy like a 1-pound Snickers bar and a 5-pound gummy bear.
- Find BTS Pop Up, a shop selling merchandise from K-pop group BTS, on the 2nd floor of Ala Moana Center near Target. It’s slated to remain open through 26 Mar 2022. It features 250 different products based on their album, Map of the Soul: 7, and has a music video space and photo opportunities.
- Uniqlo Ala Moana has launched a service to print custom designs on t-shirts and tote bags. In addition to designs from local artists, customers can submit their own creation for printing. Check out it’s Hawaii-exclusive clothing line while instore.
- Ward Village, between Ala Moana and Downtown Honolulu, has new tenants including Rock Candy Hawaii (crystal shop), MO MedSpa (non-invasive medical aesthetic treatments), Studio the Vibe (indoor photography studio) and Logos Bookstore of Hawaii (Christian bookstore).
- Ka Makana Alii, a shopping center in Kapolei (60-minutes drive west of Waikiki), has added a new jewelry boutique, Ocean Creations, and a frozen desserts shop that combines ice cream with sweet cereals, Milky Cereal Bar.
Festivals & Events
- New Year’s Eve Fireworks by Grucci returns to Waikiki Beach to usher in 2022. For more information, including a map of the fireworks site, click here.
- Hawaii Opera Theatre plans to return to live performances in the new year with Re-Emerging: HOT Live in Concert (28 & 30 Jan 2022), The Tragedy of Carmen (18 & 20 Feb 2022), Opera Ball 2022: The Butterfly Emerges (26 Mar 2022) and Madame Butterfly (8, 10 & 12 Apr 2022).
- Broadway in Hawaii is bringing Broadway to Honolulu this upcoming 2022-2023 season. Book tickets to see Beautiful The Carole King Musical (19-24 Apr 2022), Jersey Boys (13-25 Sep 2022), Hamilton (7 Dec-29 Jan 2023) and CATS Let The Memory Live Again (13-18 Jun 2023).
- The Honolulu Museum of Art’s Artists of Hawaii Now exhibition celebrates world-class artwork from contemporary artists of Hawaii exploring some of the most urgent issues of our time and place. On display through 16 Jan 2022.
- Box jellyfish (stinging invertebrates) tend to appear in Oahu’s ocean 8 to 10 days after the full moon. According to the Waikiki Aquarium Box Jellyfish Calendar, the 26-28 Jan 2022 has a high probability of a box jellyfish arrival event.
- Honolulu Festival, scheduled to run 11-13 Mar 2022, has been cancelled for the third year in a row due due to the ongoing pandemic. The festival usually draws thousands of visitors from around the world including a large Japanese contingent.
- Click here for a list of events and businesses temporarily closing and rescheduling due to COVID cases surging.
- BYOB Sunset Cruise off the Waikiki Coast from US$44.57 per person (save US$11.15)
- Ultimate E-Bike Adventure, North Shore from US$108 per person (save US$27)
- Diamond Head eBike Group Ride from US$47.20 per person (save US$11.80)
- Honolulu Airport & Waikiki Hotels Private Transfer by Luxury SUV (up to 5 people) from US$120 per group (save US$30)
- Book Resort Pass Waikiki pool, cabana, spa and amenity passes! Search “Honolulu”
- Book More Oahu Tours
*Subject to change/terms and conditions apply – please refer to the individual businesses for full details.
Shop Hawaii Style
- Helpful Hawaii Travel Items
- Oahu Revealed: The Ultimate Guide to Honolulu, Waikiki & Beyond
- Leahlani Skincare
- Catherine Weitzman Jewelry
- SurfShack Puzzles by Hawaii Independent Artists
Image Credit: Waikiki Beach Stays/Ashlee Galea