Visiting Maui during COVID

February 20, 2021/Jonathan Rundle/0 Comments

Thinking of traveling to or visiting Maui during COVID? Just wondering what it’s like to travel right now and want to live vicariously through me? This is the blog post for you.

Pre-flight COVID testing

To travel to Hawaii, you’ll need to complete a COVID test from one of their approved vendors. We chose Vault Health, which was about $120 per test. 72 hours before travel, I connected via Zoom video chat with a healthcare professional who walked me through taking the test.

The negative test result PDF needs to be uploaded to the Safe Travels Hawaii web portal, where you fill in all of your travel details, including where you’re going to stay. If you don’t get tested, this portal will also make you check in each day to verify your location (that you’re in quarantine). The mandatory quarantine without a negative test is 10 days.

Additionally, you’re supposed to download the Aloha Safe Alert app to track your whereabouts and notify you if you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID.

With these protocols, I felt more at ease when visiting Maui during COVID.

The flight

Whitney and I flew Hawaiian Airlines’ basic economy class, knowing the flight would be less than full. And it sure was. On the way there, the flight was 35% full; and on the way back, more like 20% of capacity. Masks stayed on for the whole flight except for times where travelers were eating or drinking. People did seem to adhere to the rules.

At the Maui airport

There isn’t any protocol at the departure airport, but once you land in Maui, you’ll have to stand in line to provide your ID, your negative test result, and the QR code that links to your “Safe Travels Hawaii” health profile. Hawaii recommends a printed version of the QR code to avoid any technology hiccups in line. It took about 20 minutes to get through this line.

Maui Airport COVID line

The beaches

Hotel capacity is way down over the norm (below 50% of capacity according to KHON news), so fewer people are on the island in general.

Everywhere we visited, people kept their distance at the beach. Even at busy beaches with smaller stretches of sand, everyone stayed at least 6 feet away. If you’re especially concerned about space, pick a big, wide, sandy one like Kaanapali Beach. The closest person was easily 20 feet away at this big, but popular, beach.

Kaanapali Beach

Find lonely activities

If you’re really hoping to get away from people, go do some stuff far away from the maddening crowds. Our excursions included a trip to the Haleakala summit at Haleakala National Park.

Haleakalā National Park during COVIDHaleakalā National Park during COVID

I have a national park pass because I love visiting the parks. The road to the top is a lot of fun (if you like curvy, scary roads) and the summit was not at all crowded.

Haleakalā National Park during COVID

Like many trips we take, I rented a motorcycle to get my lean on. The process was quick, easy, and mostly done online at EagleRider Lahania. Whitney and I put our knees in the breeze on the mostly empty Kahekili Highway. This road hugs the coastline of North Maui and transitions from two-lane to single-lane blacktop with blind hairpins and unforgettable views.

Get out and do your own thing safely if visiting Maui during COVID.

Visiting Maui during COVID

Eating in Maui during COVID

Eating in restaurants is allowed in Maui during COVID, but it’s not something we did often. In fact, I splurged a little extra for lodging with a nice lanai and a view, knowing full well we’d use it more than we normally would. And use it we did.

Maui during COVID

Most of our evenings ended here on the lanai with takeout from all of our favorite restaurants (and our own alcohol from Safeway!) We could watch the whales breaching in the distance as the sun dipped behind the island of Lanai. All while enjoying peace and quiet, each other’s company, and saving a few bucks, too.

Maui dinner during COVIDWest Maui SunsetWest Maui Sunset

We did eat in some restaurants though and found it to be safe. We had drinks at the Ritz-Carlton one night, lunch at Lahaina Pizza Company, lunch on the outdoor patio at Leilani’s on the Beach, and lunch at Flatbread Company in Paia.

Eating out in Maui during COVID

Our takeout favorites were Miso Phat Sushi, Paia Fish Market, the Fish Market Maui, breakfast from The Gazebo (the line is pictured below), to-go breakfast sandwiches and coffee from Hawaiian Village Coffee, and finally the Hula pie from Hula Grill. When you take-out, visiting Maui during COVID is just like being at home – just with fresher seafood!

Eating out in Maui during COVIDMaui during COVID

Where we had concerns

Boat cruises. We took a sunset cruise and a whale watch cruise while visiting Maui during COVID. The whale watch mandated masks the entire time but there were lots of people congregating together to see the whales and some people who simply could not manage to keep their mouths and noses covered. The sunset cruise did not mandate masks once underway.

Maui boat cruise during COVIDMaui boat cruise during COVID

Each operated at a reduced capacity. We didn’t feel unsafe or at risk, but these concerns are something to think about if you’re especially risk-averse or in a category that needs to stay away from COVID.

Maui whale watch during covid

Hiking. We took a short hike to the Iao Valley State Park to see the Iao Needle. The path is not wide and social distancing is not possible when passing people coming up or down the path. While yes, I know we’re outside, the proximity to others makes it necessary to mask up. Many visitors did not have masks on at all, even when passing by others on the path.

Iao Valley during COVID

The same story can be said for our hike to the Nakalele Blowhole. Again, we’re outside but the path does get confined at points and the blowhole is a popular stop. This means lots of people milling around, huffing and puffing their way up the hill. Many people in the area did not wear their masks, which I consider… fucking rude.

Nakalele Blowhole hike

Visiting Maui during COVID

If you are considering visiting Maui during COVID, I hope this post helps explain what you can expect. Answers to all of your Hawaii travel questions are here. Keep tabs on COVID data in Hawaii by visiting Hawaii’s COVID-19 information hub.

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