What’s New on Oahu > May 2021
*This is a copy of the Waikiki Beach Stays Monthly Mailer (sent out 22 May 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.
We just got back from an incredible week in Ko Olina. Staying out on Oahu’s west side was the perfect holiday for us, and the Four Seasons Resort Oahu deserves every one of it’s five stars!
But there’s no place like home, and we’re enjoying being back in the 96815 zip code of Waikiki. The Waikiki Beach maintenance project is wrapping up after fourteen weeks, ahead of schedule.
The width of sand between the Royal Hawaiian Resort and Kuhio Beach Park (by the ocean pools) has essentially doubled. This is the second time in a decade the sand has been replenished, and it will likely continue to happen every five to ten years.
The beach is looking fly! Check out the before and after photos here.
In other Waikiki news, a Hawaiian monk seal pup has been born on Kaimana Beach (at the east end of Waikiki). Kaiwi and Lōliʻi, as they’re known, are still in the area. Always observe marine life from a safe distance.
We’re excited to be approaching the peak of Hawaii’s summer (Jun-Aug). We’ll see less Humpback whales as the season comes to an end (Dec-May) but more Hawaiian green sea turtles as nesting begins (Apr-Sep).
Travel to and around the Hawaiian Islands is ramping up!
Hawaii is focused on the vaccine rollout, roughly 41% of the population are fully vaccinated. According to The Johns Hopkins University vaccine tracker Hawaii is number six in the nation for those fully vaccinated.
Our Governor has eased restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers flying inter-island, they’re no longer required to pre-test or quarantine. Please note, this exemption is ONLY for people who received their vaccine in Hawaii.
This program has created a sudden surge in demand, so big that it overwhelmed Hawaiian Airlines booking system. Locals are happy to be able to move freely around the islands again – 9,000+ people have already used the ‘inter-island vaccine passport’.
We hope the program widens to include our U.S. mainland and international travelers in the near future! #fingerscrossed
Ash & Keli‘i
COVID-19 Hawaii Travel Updates
- As of 19 May 2021: There have been 35,726 cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaii, resulting in 494 deaths. Average daily new cases are 76 island-wide. There have been 1,042 cases island-wide in the last 14-days (Oahu 819; Maui County 148; Hawaii Island 56; Kauai 19).
- 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 and Taiwan) 72-hours prior to the final leg of their trip, and get a negative result returned prior to boarding their flight. An online Travel and Health Form must be completed and temperature screening at all Hawaii airports. Note, these are umbrella rules for the State of Hawaii, in addition, each island has its own entry and arrival protocols to follow. For example, Maui has a post-arrival COVID-19 testing program for transpacific travelers.
- Oahu remains in Tier 3 of the Honolulu Reopening Strategy.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its mask recommendations for vaccinated people, stating fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. However, when in Hawaii the State law still requires people here to wear masks (whether vaccinated or not) at all indoor public places and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible.
- Hawaii continues to face a rental car shortage and subsequently the cost of car hire has also increased. When tourism disappeared, a lot of vehicles were shipped from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland hence the low inventory. We suggest booking your rental car as soon as you possible with Discount Hawaii Car Rental.
- NCIS: Hawaii will be filming a series on Oahu, set to premiere during CBS’s 2021-2022 schedule. The show will feature the first female Special Agent in Charge. Based at NCIS Pearl Harbor, she and her team will balance duty to family and country, investigating high-stakes crimes involving military personnel, national security and the mysteries of the island itself. We’re excited! If you’re interested in Hawaii film industry updates, we recommend following Reel News Hawaii.
- The Central Pacific Hurricane Center predicts Hawaii will have a quieter 2021 hurricane season (Jun-Nov) with only two to five tropical cyclones (below average). Note, Hurricanes are rare to make landfall in the islands (the last big one to hit was Hurricane Iniki on Kauai in 1992).
- There’s a change to the way you dial telephone numbers within Hawaii. Callers are urged to start adding the ‘808’ area code to the front of all local phone calls (previously it could be omitted). This new 10-digit local calling format will become mandatory on 24 Oct 2021.
- On 6 May 2021, United Airlines began flying a new daily route from Orange County (SNA) to Honolulu (HNL). United is the only carrier to operate a non-stop service on this California-Hawaii corridor.
- Southwest Airlines expands it’s U.S. Mainland to Hawaii services. Flights departing from Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, Las Vegas, Oakland, San Jose, and Long Beach will travel direct to cities including Honolulu (Oahu), Kahului (Maui), Kona (Hawaii Island) and Lihue (Kauai). The Points Guy has laid out all of the details.
- Air Canada, Canada’s national airline, announced a new, non-stop routes launching in Dec 2021. They already had non-stop flights to several Hawaiian Islands from Vancouver, but they are adding flights from the eastern part of the country including direct flights from Montreal-Honolulu (12 Dec), Toronto-Maui (18 Dec), and Calgary-Honolulu (18 Dec). They will also resume service from Toronto-Honolulu (17 Dec), Calgary-Maui (18 Dec), and Vancouver-Honolulu, Maui, and Kona (various dates).
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Honolulu Airport has launched the Simplified Arrival Program (facial recognition technology) in an effort to streamline the international arrival process. The touchless system works by taking a photo of the passenger, then comparing it to a government-issued photo such as a passport or visa. It replaces the Automated Passport Control kiosks.
- Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort has soft-opened after completing the first phase of it’s $80M renovation. The second phase will be finished by end of the year.
- ESPACIO The Jewel of Waikiki, Hawaii’s ultra-exclusive hotel will re-open 1 Jun 2021. Offering nine three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom suites (each one occupying an entire floor), ESPACIO features personalized amenities and service. Guests will enjoy preferred reservations at Mugen, the acclaimed Japanese-French restaurant on-property that also re-opens 1 Jun 2021.
- Halepuna Waikiki pushed back their re-opening from April to 1 Jul 2021. Sister property Halekulani has embarked on a revitalization project property-wide and plans to re-open 1 Oct 2021.
Restaurants & Bars
- The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club has opened a new “Surfjack Shop” coffee spot replacing the old Olive & Oliver. We can confirm the coffee and cup art remains on point at this location.
- Lokahi Brewing Co. opened a brewery and taproom in Honolulu. They opened with a choice of six beers and one seltzer. Four of the beers are Lokahi creations including a hazy IPA, a hefeweizen, a honey macadamia nut brown ale and a lager. In addition to Lokahi’s brews, there are three other taps designated to supporting other breweries. For food, they’re partnering with a local food truck.
- Oahu’s Miro Kaimuki, was named as one of the best new restaurants in the world by Condé Nast Traveler (just a dozen establishments across the globe made the cut). It offers contemporary French-inspired cuisine with a Japanese sensibility featuring a seasonal 5-course prix fixe menu (from $70 pp) with fine wine pairings (from $35 pp). They also host a prix fixe Sunday brunch (from $36 pp).
Tours & Activities
- Download the Shaka Guide Oahu app, plug your earphones into your cellphone, and take yourself on the Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour. Starting at the Royal Hawaiian Center and heading south to the Duke’s Kahanamoku Statue, this self-walking tour highlights Waikiki’s key landmarks. For example, learn the history of the Kapaemahu Healing Stones, four sacred stones in an enclosure next to Honolulu Police Station.
- Waikiki Trolley, Oahu’s hop-on-hop-off bus and trolley system, returns 15 Jun 2021. It will begin shuttling visitors on three routes, the Pink Line (Ala Moana Shopping), Blue/Green Line (Ocean/Diamond Head) and Red Line (City Arts District).
- Pearl Harbor National Memorial has transitioned to a touch-less ticketing system managed by www.recreation.gov, there is a $1 service charge to reserve tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial program. Same-day free tickets are no longer available at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Click here for more information and advice. Alternatively, book a Pearl Harbor Sightseeing Tour.
- The Battleship Missouri Memorial will be restoring its full operations schedule beginning Memorial Day weekend (29-31 May 2021). The Mighty Mo will be open to visitors daily, 8am-4pm. While on board, check out the new “Missouri in the Movies” exhibit showcasing artifacts from a number of films that the USS Missouri was featured in (on show until 31 Aug 2021).
- There is a new online system to reserve an entry time into Hanauma Bay. This system allows the public to select an educational viewing show time two days ahead of their planned visit. Time slots are available in 10-minute increments between 7am and 1:40pm (Wed-Sun only), and can be made for up to 10 people at one time. Each user will receive a confirmation via email, which they will be required to bring to the park as proof of reservation (you must present identification that matches your reservation). Currently, reservations are made free of charge with entry and parking fees ($3 for non-residents) collected inside the nature preserve.
- T Galleria by DFS in Waikiki has permanently closed. It was the only place on Oahu (outside the Airport) to buy goods without having to pay some or all Hawaii local duties and taxes. Total bummer! Hawaii investors acquired the 75,000-square-foot retail space and plan to redevelop it.
- Oahu Honey Company opened a shop at Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewers Street. They support the sustainability of Hawaii’s agriculture and the conservation of local honeybee by producing locally sourced and raw Hawaiian honey.
- Park West Fine Art Museum & Gallery is opening this month at Waikiki Beach Walk. It’s a free-to-the-public art experience, browse incredible works from artists like Pablo Picasso, Peter Max, Michael Godard, Mark Kostabi, and more. Founded in 1969, Park West Gallery is the world’s largest art dealer, known for its live auctions and galleries on cruise ships and at luxury vacation destinations across the globe.
Festivals & Events
- The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky’s Fourth performance at the Waikiki Shell from 7pm on 21-23 May 2021 (this weekend!). This event is part of the Sheraton Starlight Series and has a limited capacity and in-person audience.
- Forever Plaid, a musical presented by Diamond Head Theatre, runs between 28 May to 13 Jun 2021. The story is a touch goofy but if 1950’s vintage songs (like Chain Gang, Catch A Falling Star and Rags to Riches) are your thing, you’ll love it!
- Hoomau Hawaii Market, a craft fair event featuring Native Hawaiian businesses and products, will be held at the International Market Place from 12-13 Jun 2021.
- 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 20 Jul 2021 to mid-August. Tickets on sale now.
- 2-Hour Sunset Cruise in Waikiki from $73.72 per person (save $23.28)
- Private Circle Island Sunset Photo Tour from $239.58 per person (save $59.90)
- 3-Hour Swim’n’Sail Experience in Waikiki from $90.70 per group (save $16.01)
- Your Private First or Last Day Tours from $336.75 per group (save $112.25)
- Stand up Paddleboard Yoga in Waikiki Beach from $40 per person (save $10)
- Use promo code ADMIRER for an exclusive discount with Hawaiian Style Rentals
- More Oahu Tours Deals & Discounts
*Subject to change/terms and conditions apply – please refer to the individual businesses for full details.
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Image Credit: Shutterstock/Jason Yoder