What’s New on Oahu > Jun 2021
*This is a copy of the Waikiki Beach Stays Monthly Mailer (sent out 22 Jun 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.
And a lot has happened in just four weeks…
Most noticeably, Hawaii’s tourism recovery is occurring at a high speed.
The State of Hawaii expects visitor arrivals to hit 6.6 million this year; that’s 64% of arrival numbers from 2019! Those figures are mind-blowing, especially considering international tourism has yet to return in any significant way.
You know Hawaii’s bouncing back when the celebrities start to roll in. Justin and Hailey Bieber recently hired mopeds from our good friend Nathan at Hawaiian Style Rentals and were spotted cruising ‘round the island.
Whether it’s a moped, scoot coupe or bicycle, two-wheels are an excellent option for sightseeing right now because Oahu continues to face a rental car shortage.
A lack of rental cars is just one of the obstacles travelers may face as we adjust to this massive wave of demand. It’s becoming harder to get seated at restaurants without a reservation, and major tours (like ziplining on Kualoa Ranch) are booked out months ahead, along with most luau on the island.
Our best advice, plan your next Hawaii vacation well in advance! You can pre-book your accommodation, airport transfers, car hire, and tours via our website. And don’t forget to make dining reservations, the OpenTable app is great for that.
There are more changes to come. We don’t see this momentum slowing down.
- Right now, 57% of Hawaii’s population is vaccinated. Incentives have been introduced to entice unvaccinated residents to get the ‘jab’.
- Hawaii no longer requires face masks to be worn outdoors.
- Traveling inter-island is ‘back to normal’. There are no inter-island pre-testing or quarantining requirements.
- The Hawaii Safe Travels program now allows Hawaii residents who were vaccinated in the State of Hawaii to return home from the U.S. mainland without any travel restrictions (e.g. no need to pre-test or quarantine).
- When Hawaii reaches 60% vaccination rate, the Hawaii Safe Travels program will accept vaccination cards issued on the U.S. mainland. This move will allow travelers who are fully vaccinated in America to travel Hawaii without travel restrictions (e.g. no need to pre-test or quarantine). Until this time, the Hawaii Safe Travels program is still in place and must be adhered to.
- When Hawaii reaches 70% vaccination rate, our Governor David Ige has suggested that all pandemic-related restrictions will be lifted, and the Hawaii Safe Travels program will be terminated. This is estimated to occur sometime around October.
If you’re visiting Hawaii soon, please do so with patience, understanding and respect. You might like to connect deeper with Hawaii through various malama (care) programs. Travel partners are offering opportunities to engage in mindful travel while in Hawaii, these enriching experiences will allow you to gain a real connection to the land, ocean and people. For more information, visit gohawaii.com/malama.
Ash & Keli‘i
COVID-19 Hawaii Travel Updates
- As of 21 Jun 2021: There have been 37,367 cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaii, resulting in 513 deaths. Average daily new cases 39 island-wide. There have been 632 cases island-wide in the last 14-days. Hawaii’s COVID-19 cases continue to trend down!
- Hawaii remains open to visitors thanks to the Safe Travels Hawaii program! In order to bypass the State of Hawaii’s 10-day mandatory self-quarantine, travelers must take a pre-travel COVID-19 test from a trusted testing and travel partner (available on the U.S. mainland, Canada, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and French Polynesia) 72-hours prior to the final leg of their trip, and get a negative result returned prior to boarding their flight. In addition, a Travel and Health Form must be completed online along with temperature screening at all Hawaii airports. Note, these are umbrella rules for the State of Hawaii.
- Oahu has moved into the less restrictive Tier 4 of the Honolulu Reopening Strategy.
- Hawaii continues to face a rental car shortage. We recommend booking early with Discount Hawaii Car Rental. They have no booking fees or cancellation penalties, no prepayment and reservations are guaranteed.
- There’s a new Hawaii-based ride-share service in town! Unlike competitors Uber and Lyft, Holoholo has fixed up-front costs and a no-surge-pricing policy. There are five transportation modes: holoholo (standard one-to-four-person ride), Assist (special help such as for wheelchairs), Military (a driver that can access bases), Green (eco-friendly vehicles) and XL (up to six passengers in an SUV). A luxury mode is also offered at a premium price.
- Duke Kahanamoku Beach, one of Waikiki’s seven beaches, has been ranked the #6 Best Beach in America 2021 by ‘Dr Beach’. It’s also one of our favorite spots, along with the salt-water lagoon nearby. It’s the widest section of sand on Waikiki Beach, known for a calm ocean thanks to a protective offshore coral reef. Aqua cycles, air mats and tubes, boogie boards and kayaks are available to rent from the nearby Waikiki Beach Activities hut, making this a fun area for water play.
- New laws aimed at protecting Hawaii’s marine environment have been established. Hawaii visitors will be charged a $1 per person fee, collected by commercial ocean operators, to help fund Hawaii’s ocean conservation efforts. Additionally, non-Hawaii residents will be required to purchase a marine recreational fishing license in order to fish, with revenue generated going towards sport fish management. It will take about one year for the rules to go into effect.
- Movers & Shakas opened applications for its next cohort of 50 professionals to work remotely from Hawaii this October. It’s partnering with Outrigger to provide an ‘Olympic Village’ of accommodations in Waikiki. The chosen members will receive free roundtrip flights, and will be required to volunteer their time with a local nonprofit or startup. Members are responsible for paying their own accommodations.
- From 7 Aug 2021, Hawaiian Airlines will resume flights between Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and Tahiti’s Fa’a‘ā International Airport. Flights had been suspended since Mar 2020.
- Hawaiian Airlines will not be restarting its OHANA by Hawaiian passenger service between Honolulu and the islands of Molokai and Lanai. For inter-island flights to these islands, the best option is Mokulele Airlines (Southern Airways Express).
- On 6 Jun 2021, Southwest Airlines began non-stop flights from Las Vegas to Honolulu (Oahu) and Kahului (Maui) in Hawaii.
- United Airlines has upgraded it’s Hawaii-bound flights with larger wide-body jets outfitted with lie-flat Polaris pods and some premium economy recliners. United offers many flights from the U.S. mainland into Hawaii, including direct flights from San Francisco (SFO) to Honolulu (HNL), Lihue (LIH), Maui (OGG) and Kona (KOA).
- WestJet, Canada’s second-largest airline, is increasing its services to the Aloha State. From Dec 2021, WestJet will operate 57 weekly flights on ten non-stop routes from Canada to Hawaii.
- The White Sands Hotel in Waikiki is wrapping up a large renovation. They have revamped 94 rooms and one-bedroom suites, updated common areas, and created a new eatery called Hey Day Cafe. The property design is a throwback to vintage Waikiki with ‘60s and ‘70s vibes, but with modern conveniences.
- Norwegian Cruise Line operates Hawaii’s only end-to-end Hawaiian Islands cruise. The itinerary onboard the Pride of America ship sails to four islands in seven-days. Sailing departures look to resume in Nov 2021.
- Starting from 25 Sep 2021, Princess Cruises will once again take guests to the Californian coast, Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico and Hawaii. The Majestic Princess, Grand Princess and Ruby Princess ships include Hawaii in their itinerary.
Restaurants & Bars
- Hey Day Cafe has opened in the newly renovated White Sands Hotel in Waikiki. The owners also run popular Fete restaurant in Downtown Honolulu. The Hey Day menu is farm-to-table with ingredients sourced from farmers and purveyors on Oahu. The centerpiece of Hey Day is a large, circular poolside bar with hanging swing-chairs.
- Hawaii’s beloved bakery and diner-style restaurant, Liliha Bakery, is opening it’s fourth location on the 3rd floor of the International Market Place in Waikiki. In the meantime, you can visit the Macy’s at Ala Moana Center store. It’s a no-brainer for an iconic breakfast, lunch or dinner. Fuel your shopping day here with the best hot cakes on the island, and don’t leave without tasting a coco puff from the full-service bakery!
- Hawaii Chef Chai Chaowasaree has a launched a new restaurant at the Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach Hotel, Kalo Hawaiian Food. It’s the only dedicated Hawaiian food eatery in Waikiki. Try authentic dishes including kalua pig, laulau, lomi salmon and poi. It’s open for dinner nightly, and will commence breakfast from 1 Jul 2021.
- J. Dolan’s, an Irish pub in Honolulu’s Chinatown, famous for it’s handcrafted New York-style pizza, is expanding to a second location at Kuono Marketplace in Kahala. Just like the original spot, it will specialize in hand-crafted pizzas, including classics like their margherita and pepperoni, as well as build-your-own pizza options.
Tours & Activities
- The Manoa Falls Trail has reopened for public use after a 2-year closure for safety improvements. A rockfall mitigation fence was installed next to the falls. Crews also widened the trail for two-way traffic, resurfaced the trail bed, and created new steps. This 1.6mi (2.5km) roundtrip hike, a short drive from Waikiki, is ready for you to enjoy! It’s a fairytale setting with century-old trees and an enchanting bamboo forest, the backdrop of TV shows and films including scenes from LOST and Jurassic Park.
- Iolani Palace has added Tuesdays back on the schedule, now open Tue-Sat 9am-4pm. It was the official residence of Hawaiian royalty from the time of King Kamehameha II through to the last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani. Iolani Palace in Downtown Honolulu is a National Historic Landmark and the only palace on U.S. soil. Book a self-guided audio tour or one of the many docent-led small-group tours.
- Bishop Museum has a new exhibit “Pow! Wow! The First Decade: From Hawaii to the World” featuring large scale murals, on view until 19 Sep 2021. While you’re there explore the world’s largest archive of natural history specimens, plants, cultural artifacts, and artworks of Polynesia.
- Last month I mentioned T Galleria by DFS in Waikiki had permanently closed. While the building is still boarded up, DFS Group has publicly rejected media suggestions that it is ‘departing’ from Hawaii. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
- The Disney Store at Ala Moana Center, the only one in Hawaii, is closing on 14 Jul 2021. It’s one of several Disney stores that are shutting down nationwide as they transition out of brick-and-mortar retail and into online sales.
- Aloha Confectionery, a family-owned sweets shop at Ala Moana Center, has permanently closed its doors. It was located near Target on the third level of the outdoor mall’s Mauka Wing and specialized in cookies and cupcakes.
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.
- Beyond Van Gogh The Immersive Experience is coming to the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. It’s an in-depth event featuring 300+ of Vincent van Gogh’s iconic artworks, brought to life in a 3D world. It opens 2 Jul 2021 to mid-August.
- Hawaii Symphony Orchestra brings a series of events to the Waikiki Shell including West Side Story & More from 9-11 Jul 2021 and Music of Queen 7 Aug 2021, as part of the Sheraton Starlight Series.
- Kualoa Ranch is staging their first event post lockdown! Mana Honua is a unique fun run course set in the beautiful valley of Kaaawa on Saturday 31 July 2021. Register online for the 1 mile with the keiki (kids) or the 5K or 10K.
- 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).
- Turtle Snorkeling Adventure (Boat Tour) from $101.60 per person (save $25.40)
- Waikiki Sunset Sailing Adventure from $63.20 per person (save $15.80)
- Private North Shore Sunset Photo Tour $212.05 per group (save $37.43)
- Private South Shore Sunset Photo Tour from $179.53 per group (save $19.95)
- Use promo code ADMIRER for an exclusive discount with Hawaiian Style Rentals
- 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/Ryan Tishken