What’s New on Oahu > Jul 2021
*This is a copy of the Waikiki Beach Stays Monthly Mailer (sent out 23 Jul 2021). Click here to subscribe for future editions.
The wave of holidaymakers continues…
Hawaii is reaching higher vacation rental and hotel occupancy levels than pre-pandemic and attractions are seeing a record-number of visitors. For example, Diamond Head had over 70,000 hikers in May, that’s 20,000 more than the same period in 2019!
And the biggest news this month? Hawaii’s travel rules have loosened.
American travelers who have been fully vaccinated in U.S. (starting on the 15th day after their last dose) are now able to bypass the state’s quarantine and testing requirements. For everyone else, the mandatory 10-day quarantine period can be avoided by following the pre-travel testing program. For details, check hawaiicovid19.com/travel.
Oahu has also moved into Tier 5 which means business and social activities have also relaxed. You can hold indoor social gatherings up to 25 people and outdoor social gatherings up to 75 people. However, the indoor mask mandate remains in place.
As of mid-July, an estimated 58.6% of all Hawaii residents were fully vaccinated. It’s understood that once the state reaches a 70% vaccination rate, all pandemic-related restrictions will be lifted.
With the destination busier than ever, our advice remains the same – plan your next Hawaii vacation well in advance!
If you need any help, check out our website where you can pre-book your accommodation, airport transfers, car hire, tours and activities, and more. And don’t forget to make dining reservations, the OpenTable app is great for that.
Speaking of dining, we’re thrilled to introduce the Oahu Eats Guide. Don’t leave the most delicious part of your Hawaii holiday up to chance!
Let Ashlee, aka The Hawaii Admirer, take the guesswork out of where to dine on Oahu. We have a launch offer of 25% discount available until 31 Jul 2021. For more information, to download a sample or purchase your copy, click here.
Ash & Keli‘i
COVID-19 Hawaii Travel Updates
- As of 20 Jul 2021: There have been 39,486 cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii to date, resulting in 523 deaths. Average daily new cases 113 island-wide (79 Oahu, 10 Maui County, 7 Kauai and 17 Hawaii Island). The vast majority of cases and hospitalizations now are among those unvaccinated.
- Hawaii is open to visitors via the Safe Travels Hawaii program, with new exceptions now in place.
- Travelers entering Hawaii from the U.S. and its Territories who have been fully vaccinated in the United States (or its Territories) may bypass quarantine without a pre-travel test (starting on the 15th day after their second dose). The vaccination record must be uploaded to Safe Travels or printed out prior to departure and hard copy in hand when arriving. This program does not cover international travelers.
- Other travelers must continue to take a pre-travel COVID-19 test from a trusted testing and travel partner (available on the U.S. mainland, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, French Polynesia, South Korea and Philippines) 72-hours prior to the final leg of their trip, and get a negative result returned prior to boarding their flight in order to bypass Hawaii’s 10-day mandatory self-quarantine.
- There continues to be a rental car shortage on Oahu. To avoid disappointment we recommend booking early with Discount Hawaii Car Rental. They have no booking fees or cancellation penalties, no prepayment and reservations are guaranteed.
- Concourse will add up to 11 new gates (the first concourse expansion in 20 years). The Terminal 2 restrooms are being renovated, the airport directional signs are being updated, and three pedestrian bridges are being replaced. In addition, a brand new $400M Consolidated Rental Car Facility is set to make hiring a car at the airport more efficient.Electric scooters have just gained approval to operate in Hawaii. Go X scooters are available to rent in Waikiki with pick up and drop off at 17+ locations including the International Market Place. Scooters cost $1 to activate and 88c for each ensuing minute, or can be used with daily, weekly and monthly plans.
- Electric scooters have just gained approval to operate in Hawaii. Go X scooters are available to rent in Waikiki with pick up and drop off at 17+ locations including the International Market Place. Scooters cost $1 to activate and 88c for each ensuing minute, or can be used with daily, weekly and monthly plans.
- Southwest Airlines launched Hawaii service in 2019, anticipating 2020 would be a growth year but the pandemic put a pause on those plans. 2021 is looking brighter for the airline, they’re ramping up Hawaii service with the launch of additional flights between the Islands and San Diego, San Jose, Long Beach, and Oakland, as well as new routes connecting Hawaii to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.
- Turtle Bay Resort reopened on 1 Jul 2021 following a property-wide renovation. Changes include renovated guest bungalows, a redesigned lobby and pool deck, the addition of Native Hawaiian plants, and new dining concepts including Alaia restaurant, a lobby café, and bar. Additional updates to the guest rooms are still to come, due to be completed by next July.
- Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra has undergone a multimillion-dollar refurbishment including updates to the lobby, business center and meeting spaces. Changes to the lobby include upgraded furniture, décor and lighting, as well as a custom mural created by Hawaii artist Kamea Hadar. The pool deck has also be revamped, now features fire pits, cabanas and a refurbished deck.
Restaurants & Bars
- A la carte dining concept Café 410 has replaced the buffet-style Plantation Cafe at Ala Moana Hotel. They serve a mix of breakfast staples including a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, eggs benedict, pancakes, loco moco, acai bowls and avo toast. Every order comes with fruit and pastries for the table.
- Fat Cheeks Hawaii are moving to a new location at Ward Village (15-mins drive from Waikiki). They’re known for gourmet lobster rolls, cajun crawfish, shrimp or crab rolls, clam chowder and shrimp bisque.
- The Social Honolulu has opened in a new location at South Shore Market in Ward Village (15-mins drive from Waikiki). Enjoy game time specials while cheering on your favorite American sports teams here.
- Poai by Pono Potions has opened in Chinatown. This cafe serves coffee, tea, lemonade and cocktails made with Pono’s flavored syrups, created using Hawaii-grown ingredients. Ulu and Kalo Bakery provides gluten-free baked goods here, like ulu banana bread and kalo fudge brownies.
- STRIPSTEAK Waikiki on the Grand Lanai at International Market Place has reopened. It’s a modern American steakhouse with Asian influences by Chef Michael Mina. Highlights include chilled seafood, hot stone A5 wagyu, vegan signature dishes and steaks from the char-broiler.
- Waikiki’s Duke’s Lane Market & Eatery celebrates its 4th anniversary this month. It features the award-winning BASALT restaurant, Island Gourmet Coffee, Spitfire Rotisserie & Flatbread, Chill tea bar and gelato, and an onsite bakery. Enhancements include a patio extension to allow more outside seating.
- Tropics Bar & Grill, a casual beachfront eatery at Hilton Hawaiian Village, has reopened with a refreshed breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. The large patio area affords al fresco dining, where diners can enjoy beautiful views of Waikiki’s widest stretch of beach.
Tours & Activities
- Popular Oahu snorkeling destination, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, has increased its entry fee for non-local visitors to $25 per person (up from $12). Entry will remain free for residents with valid identification, all children 12 and under, and active-duty military members. Parking rates will remain at $1 (locals) and $3 (non-locals) per vehicle. All proceeds go toward maintenance, education and research. Tour access has been reduced, however, round-trip transportation from Waikiki is available.
- Voluntourism programs focused on sustainable tourism are gaining popularity. Hawaii visitors can spend part of their vacation doing service projects or an off-the-beaten-path activity that helps the community via the Hawaii Tourism Authority Malama Hawaii program.
- Waikiki Aquarium has reopened after a year-long closure. The aquarium will enforce COVID safe protocols including a daily cap of 80 visitors. We recommend reserving your admission ticket ahead of time, to avoid disappointment.
- After a 15-month pause, the Waikiki Trolley is back! This hop-on-hop-off bus and trolley system shuttles passengers throughout Waikiki, Honolulu, and East Oahu on three routes. A new kiosk has opened from 8am-5pm inside the Waikiki Shopping Plaza or book tickets online.
- The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) recently announced the closure of the Maunawili Falls Trail as of 15 Jul 2021. The closure is expected to be for two years and includes the trailhead near the Maunawili Estates subdivision.
- Pali Lanes (a local bowling alley) in the town of Kailua on Oahu’s East Coast has shut its doors after 60 years in business due to the pandemic.
- There’s a new stores popping up at Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki. Harbor Vintage (a locally-owned vintage clothing shop) opened 1 Jul 2021. Hawaiian Cane Juice (freshly pressed sugar cane juices with fruits) returns Aug 2021 and Australia-based Gelatissimo (a gelato shop) opens in Oct 2021.
Festivals & Events
- Beach Walk Market, an evening market at Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewers Street, is an open-air collection of local vendors and farmers market favorites. They’ve added a second evening, now on Mondays and Wednesdays 4-8pm. Kumu Hula Blaine Kia also performs live Hawaiian music at Waikiki Beach Walk, on the plaza stage every Tuesday 4:30-6pm.
- Beyond Van Gogh The Immersive Experience is on at the Hawaii Convention Center. This event features 300+ Vincent van Gogh’s iconic artworks, brought to life in a 3D world. It has been extended through 26 Sep 2021 due to overwhelming demand.
- Hawaii Symphony Orchestra brings a series of events to the Waikiki Shell including Music of Queen on 7 Aug 2021 and Rhapsody & Rachmanioff from 13-15 Aug 2021.
- Kualoa Ranch is hosting Mana Honua, a unique fun run course set in the beautiful valley of Kaaawa on Saturday 31 Jul 2021. Register online for the 1 mile with the keiki (kids) or the 5K or 10K.
- The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival has announced its return in 2021! Book a range of culinary experiences and hands-on activities featuring local and visiting chefs. Events slated to take place on Hawaii Island 1-2 Oct, on Maui 7-10 Oct, and on Oahu 14-24 Oct.
- Napoleon Dynamite Film & Panel at Hawaii Theater Center on 5 Nov 2021. This unique evening includes a screening of the Napoleon Dynamite movie followed by a moderated discussion with cast members Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Efren Ramirez (Pedro) and Jon Gries (Uncle Rico).
- KailuaTown Farmers Market, showcasing over 64 local vendors and 15 farmers, has a new address at the Enchanted Lake Center. Find it in front of Kailua Cinemas on Sunday from 8am-12 Noon.
- Private eBike Diamond Head Ride & Hike from $135.68 per person (save $33.92)
- Private Half-day Manoa Falls Hike and eBike Ride from $143.10 per person (save $15.90)
- Waikiki Hotel Pool Passes
- More Oahu Tours & Activities
*Subject to change/terms and conditions apply – please refer to the individual businesses for full details.
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Image Credit: Shutterstock/Adventures Of Jess