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Easing Travel Restrictions

As more of Hawaii’s residents are vaccinated against COVID-19, Hawaii eases COVID-19 travel restrictions.  With the Hawaiian Islands at the top of many American’s must-visit list, the easing travel restrictions is good news.

Hawaii was hard hit by the pandemic, implementing more restrictions than nearly any other U.S. state.  However, starting July 8, the state has reached about 60 percent of its population vaccinated. With vaccination numbers increasing, travelers coming from other U.S. states can forgo COVID-19 pre-travel testing and arrival quarantine requirements.  If you have a vaccination card, upload it to the Hawaii’s Safe Travels website. You can also avoid quarantine by uploading a negative COVID-19 test, however certain restrictions apply.  More on the COVID-19 test is included later in this article.

Hawaii has also lifted COVIDS-19 travel restrictions for inter-island travel. However, some restrictions remain limiting the number of people allowed to gather.  The result is that restaurants are limited to 75 percent capacity.  You are unlikely to walk-in during peak meal times and get a table.  Likewise, activities like sunset cruises also have less space onboard.

Hawaii still requires mask-wearing in indoor public spaces. The state also requests people to socially distance themselves even on public beaches regardless of vaccination status.  The limitations should not dissuade you from visiting as the islands Hawaii is undeniably gorgeous and make a fantastic travel destination for individual travelers and families alike.

The key to having a successful visit is advanced planning and staying informed on the last travel restrictions.

Make Reservations Prior to Arriving

Airline availability and lodging may seem plentiful but do not be complacent.  Hawaii Dream Realty LLC is already at 80 percent occupancy in July.  The July occupancy does not consider time for the rooms to “air out” between guest stays as part of our safety standards.  If you thinking about renting a car, supply and demand has caused prices to soar.  Additionally, Waikiki has limited parking.  We have had many guests contact us because they were unable to locate a parking stall nearby their accommodation. We do not recommend that you rent a car for your entire stay.  Car rental companies are available in Waikiki and 808 Smart Cars is located in the Kuhio Village Tower II lobby.  Also, if you rent by the day, you don’t need to worry about parking.

Staying Informed on Changing COVID-19 Restrictions

As the population continues to vaccinate, Hawaii intends to ease all COVID-19  restrictions. However, our restrictions are subject to everchanging updates and entry requirements.  We recommend that you review the Hawaii Tourism Authority website prior to planning your trip and periodically prior to departing.

Pre-Travel COVID-19 Testing

Currently, a pre-travel COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of departing on the last leg of your trip is required to enter and bypass the mandatory 10-day quarantine, if you aren’t vaccinated. The COVID-19 test must be a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT).  The test must be administered by one of Hawaii’s Trusted Testing and Travel Partners.

All travelers must complete a health questionnaire and submit their proof of vaccination (or negative COVID-19 test results, if they aren’t vaccinated) on Hawaii’s Safe Travels website 24 hours before departure. Once you’ve answered the questions and uploaded your information, a QR code is emailed to you.

Along with printing a copy for peace of mind, know your Safe Travels website password and practice accessing your account on your phone, tablet or laptop. And make sure your device is charged as you will need to have it handy at the airport.  You will also need to provide your accommodation provider proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.

By staying informed and being proactive with your travel arrangements and itinerary, you will not have any surprises once you arrive and will be able to visit your favorite restaurants, luaus, and tours.

Oahu Vacationers Useful Links

You have options while visiting and below are some useful links for Oahu vacationers.

Phone Numbers

The area code for the state of Hawaii is (808).
Oahu Visitors Bureau: (808) 524-0722
Marriage License and Civil Unions: (808) 586-4545
Honolulu International Airport Visitor Information: (808) 836-6413
Camping Permits: (808) 523-4525 (county), (808) 587-0300 (state)

EMERGENCY INFORMATION

The City uses a multi-layered system to notify and alert residents and non-residents of disaster or emergencies. Ways the city will notify, alert, or warn you of disasters:

Nixle keeps you up-to-date with relevant information from local public safety departments and schools.

TEXT 96815 TO 888777 TO OPT-IN TO RECEIVE NIXLE ALERTS FOR HONOLULU AND WAIKIKI

HNL Info is Honolulu’s way to keep the public informed about traffic situations, weather advisories, events happening around the island, and much more. Residents and visitors customize their experience by creating an account and subscribing to topics of interest. Messages are received via push notification, e-mail, or text messaging. HNL Info is free of charge. Visit hnl.info and sign up for an account to begin receiving alerts.

Emergency Shelter

The City and County of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management offers emergency evacuation shelters. If possible, the Department of Emergency Management recommends that you shelter in place. However, if the shelters are activated, information about the Waikiki shelter is broadcast over local media and official social media sites during an emergency. If you do chose to evacuate to the emergency shelter, bring a three-day supply of food, water, clothing, medication, personal hygiene items, and a mat or cot for sleeping, since the shelters are not stocked with supplies.

Why do we say Waikiki awakens?  Well our occupancy is one indicator.  Other indicators are a return of street entertainers, beach sun bathers and ocean enthusiasts.  Additionally, business and hotels are illuminated, pedestrian and vehicle traffic increased, and luaus have reopened and are selling out fast. All support a strong rebound in Waikiki tourism that predominately focuses on domestic visitors with Hawaiian Airlines now offering direct flights from Ontario, Orlando, Long Beach, and Austin.

The average length of stay in February for all Hawaii visitors was 10.8 days according to the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. Most visitors opt to travel independently vice using a group tour or vacation package.  Interestingly, visitors who chose to telework from Hawaii tend to consider themselves on vacation.  With our beautiful summer weather and longs days, visitors have plenty of time for work, play and rest.

Contributing Factors

One contributing factor as Waikiki awakens is that Hawaii has the lowest rate of COVID-19 cases in the nation. Partially due to the fact that Hawaii has one of the highest vaccination rate in the United States. As of April 22, Hawaii was ranked seventh nationally. Almost half of the adult population in Honolulu participating in the vaccination program.

A second contributing factor is that some visitors need to break up the monotony of working from home with a change in environment.  This shift in visitor demographic has fueled the awakening with a different kind of visitor.  Discounted airfares and travel deals makes Hawaii a desired place to reside temporarily while teleworking.

Extended Stay Accommodations

Hawaii Dream Realty has several extended stay accommodations that are offered at a discount over our daily rental rates.  Extended stays are those stays that are a minimum of 30 days and typically include kitchens. Regardless all our rentals include broadband Internet.  Broadband Internet means our visitors have plenty of bandwidth for Zoom meetings and remote access to their work.

 

 

 

 

General travel safety and security tips are a key to an enjoyable travel experience. Due to heightened airline security measures and changing FAA policies and procedures, it is imperative you are as prepared as possible for your trip.

A significant increase in travel is expected over the summer at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). Travelers are encouraged to plan ahead if they will be making trips through these airports, especially during the peak times between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

General Travel Safety Tips

Make the most of any vacation by taking note of the following travel tips. We recommend that you print a copy of this list as a reminder to make safety your top priority. Also keep a printed copy of your domestic or international travel insurance plan just in case.

Travel Safety Tips at the Airport

Checking-In and Security Checkpoint

International Security Tips

General Security Tips

Whether you are traveling domestically or abroad, don’t become a victim.

The Return of a Waikiki Luau is an Encouraging Step for Hawaii’s Visitor Industry

The below article was authored by Allison Schaefers and published in the Star Advertiser on Sunday, March 13, 2021.

The return of a Waikiki luau is an encouraging step for Hawaii’s visitor industry

CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
Dancers perform onstage with backup musicians at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

The four Chavez sisters from Chicago were decked out in grass skirts for the return of Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort’s Waikiki Starlight Luau.

During the show, the girls, ages 5 to 15, got up and danced at their socially distanced table as mom Hilda Chavez took photos and videos.

“It’s been my dream to visit Hawaii and to attend a luau since I was their age,” Chavez said. “We decided to come to Hawaii to celebrate my daughter Karicia’s 15th birthday. Before I got here, I was second-guessing myself because of COVID and all the restrictions. But I don’t regret it for a second. Hawaii is doing all the right things, and I feel very comfortable.”

Chavez’s decision to book travel to Hawaii wasn’t only about safety; she also wanted reassurances there would be opportunities for the family to do only-in-Hawaii things once they got here. The first-time visitor to the islands said that for her it would have been unthinkable to visit Hawaii without attending a luau.

Hawaii Visitors

The resumption of the Hilton luau on March 5 and others across the state sends a positive message to visitors like Chavez that while the COVID-19 pandemic still has the world in its grip, the state is on the road to normalcy. Visitor industry experts say that’s key to recovering Hawaii tourism, which was still down more than 80% from January 2020. Economists predict it will be 2023 before arrivals even come close to 2019’s 10.4 million visitors.

Still, Toni Marie Davis, executive director of the Activities &Attractions Association of Hawaii, said the return of luau is a encouraging step for Hawaii’s activity operators and attractions, which have been the “hardest-hit segment of the visitor industry” during the pandemic. She said hosting large gatherings such as luau also serves as a dress rehearsal for the eventual return of meetings, conventions and incentive travelers, who often book group events.

Jay Talwar, chief marketing officer for the Hawai‘i Visitors &Convention Bureau, said the state’s ability to manage COVID-19 has made it easier to market, but once visitors have decided to travel, “having more experiences, especially iconic ones, gets them over the last hurdle. It helps sell Hawaii.”

Re-opening of Hawaii Attractions

Davis said Hilton Hawaiian Village is one of the last luau to open on Oahu, Hawaii island and Maui. Kauai’s luau still haven’t reopened due to stricter COVID-19 travel rules. However, she said, some Kauai luau venues are discussing plans to reopen after the county rejoins the state’s Safe Travels Hawaii program April 5.

“I’m confident visitors will have a great experience in Hawaii, and it will be greater when everything reopens,” Talwar said. “But to me what’s really positive about the news that luaus and other things are opening up is that it means people in our community are able to go back to work.”

Valerie King, general manager of Sea Life Park, said luau are such huge draws that the attraction, which reopened March 6, actually relaunched its luau back in December.

“We were sold out on opening day, and we’ve been able to bring back two-thirds of our food and beverage staff,” King said. “We’ve done so well that starting March 17 we are adding a fourth day.”

Afatia Thompson, president and owner of Tihati Productions Ltd., Hawaii’s largest and longest-running entertainment company, said the March 5 show — the company’s first at Hilton Hawaiian Village in about a year — was a sellout.

Top Destination Attractions

“All the surveys show that the top two things that visitors want to do when they visit Hawaii is go snorkeling and attend a luau,” Thompson said. “We’re glad that they’ve found a way to allow luaus again. It’s part of who we are, and it’s part of how we share our aloha.”

Prior to the pandemic, Tihati Productions ran 14 shows across the islands and issued weekly checks to about 1,000 performers. With the reopening of the Hilton Hawaiian Village luau, Tihati is running five shows again, which has allowed the company to bring back about 100 performers, some 16 for the Hilton Hawaiian Village show alone.

Debi Bishop, Hilton Hawaiian Village’s managing director, said the Waikiki Starlight Luau typically attracted more than 400 guests prior to the pandemic. Bishop said social-distancing requirements meant March 5’s sold-out show numbered just 150 guests. Still, it supported jobs for 21 food and beverage workers. She hopes strong demand will allow her to bring back more.

“The luau is the No. 1 attraction booked at our resort,” Bishop said. “We’re sold out for the first two weeks. We hope that continues and we’ll be able to add another night.”

But growing the experience in the middle of the pandemic isn’t only contingent on demand. New procedures at the Waikiki Starlight Luau and other luau across the state prioritize safety, which costs more.

“Everyone has had to get pretty creative to make it work,” Davis said.

King said Sea Life Park’s luau has seen a greater number of kamaaina and repeat travelers than in the past.

“When we opened, there wasn’t much to do at night,” King said. “More luaus have opened, but we are still doing really well, even though it’s not as profitable as it was before the pandemic.

Safety Remains a Priority

“We used to be able to host 680 visitors at our luau; now we are restricted to 250 so that we can space everyone out,” she said. “We can’t do buffet dinners anymore, so we have a lot more labor and expenses.”

At the Waikiki Starlight Luau, lei making and other Hawaiian crafts are now done tableside. Group hula lessons are socially distanced, as is seating. Instead of buffet service, guests are served plated dinners. They must wear face masks except when eating or drinking at their designated seat.

The usual lei greeting from stunning Polynesian performers has been nixed. Guests are now offered a squirt of hand sanitizer. Guests are also encouraged to pick their own lei from a table filled with the colorful garlands.

However, those changes were hardly noticeable. Once the show began and the stage filled with hula and fireknife dancers.

Just like that, it felt like Hawaii again.

Christmas in Hawaii was inspired by past blog posts from Megan Shute. Megan is a professional write who resides on Oahu. She compiled photographs from social media that supports Oahu’s local attractions and features Christmas time in Hawaii.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it’s officially the Christmas season. When you think of a traditional holiday season, the Hawaiian Islands are probably the last place to cross your mind. After all, you won’t find freezing temperatures or snow here, unless you head to the summit of the Big Island’s Mauna Kea, that is. However, Christmas in Hawaii is pretty incredible, and here are eleven reasons why.

Surfing Hawaiian Santa is so much cooler than regular Santa

Santa can shed his big, red suit and clunky boots in this tropical climate and don a festive Hawaiian shirt instead – or simply not zip up his suit.

Christmas in Hawaii - Surfing Hawaiian Santa is so much cooler than regular Santa

Cliff/Flickr

Make a “snowman” on the beach.

You won’t have to worry about your sandman melting though you might have to worry about your creation being swept away with the tide…

Christmas in Hawaii - Make a "snowman" on the beach

Scott Schiller/Flickr

Witness Santa arriving on an outrigger canoe

Because everyone knows that reindeer don’t thrive in a tropical climate. Santa arrives on Waikiki Beach by outrigger canoe.

Christmas in Hawaii - Witness Santa arriving on an outrigger canoe

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort/Facebook

Experience the beautiful lights that adorn Honolulu Hale

The beautiful light displays at the Honolulu Hale will be up through January 1 and are an absolute must-visit in the Hawaiian capital.

Christmas in Hawaii - Experience the beautiful lights that adorn Honolulu Hale

Kyle Nishioka/Flickr

Drive thru a holiday wonderland at Aloha Stadium

Enjoy a leisurely drive through a Christmas landscape.

Christmas in Hawaii - Drive thru a holiday wonderland at Aloha Stadium

Provided by Honolulu KHNL

 Blast the AC while drinking hot chocolate

It may be 80 degrees outside, but we can pretend we live in a winter wonderland, can’t we?

Christmas in Hawaii - Blast the AC while drinking hot chocolate

Dave Dugdale/Flickr

See someone surfing in a Santa hat

What’s better than a holiday trip to the beach?

Christmas in Hawaii - See someone surfing in a Santa hat

Paul Oka/Flickr

See blooming poinsettias and decked out palm trees

Did you know that poinsettias can grow as tall as trees in Hawaii, and that they bloom near December 25?

Christmas in Hawaii - See blooming poinsettias and decked out palm trees

Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr

You never have to worry about bad weather changing your holiday plans

There will be no blizzard that forces you to miss your annual family holiday celebration in Hawaii.

Christmas in Hawaii - You never have to worry about bad weather changing your holiday plans

Sam Posnick/Flickr

Christmas dinner is followed by a trip to the beach — wearing Santa hats and leis, of course

Because we want to be festive AND still enjoy our days off at the beach. Besides, what’s better than a holiday trip to the beach?

Christmas in Hawaii - Christmas dinner is followed by a trip to the beach — wearing Santa hats and leis, of course

Rob Bertholf/Flickr

Telling other “Mele Kalikimaka” instead of “Merry Christmas”

Bing Crosby said it best: “Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas to you.”

Christmas in Hawaii - Telling other "Mele Kalikimaka" instead of "Merry Christmas"

Daniel Ramirez/Flickr

Hawaiian Christmas music is quite unique

What other states in America can say that they have completely unique Christmas tunes sung by the famous Bing Crosby?

O’ahu’s Back on the Wave Campaign

Oahu Waikiki Back on the Wave Header
We all play a vital role in fighting COVID-19 and keeping our island safe. Hawaii Dream Realty LLC also does their part to reduce risk to our community, ohana, and guests.  More recently, the company joined Oahu’s “Back on the Wave” campaign.

While safe practices were already in place, the company volunteered to complete the City and County’s health and safety survey. The survey affirmed the company’s safe health practices.  The campaign provided training, personal protective equipment, sanitizer, and signage. While visiting look for the custom Back on the Wave signage at storefronts. Wherever you find the sign, inside you will see the steps they are taking to fight COVID-19.  All in an effort to keep residents and visitors safe.

China has always been a welcoming part of Hawaii’s visitor demographic.  So when the virus first appeared back in November 2019, the company took action prior to the March 2020 shutdown of Hawaii’s tourism.  Today our processes and procedures are more formalized than they were at the start of the pandemic. But we have always made our guest’s and Staff’s safety and well being a top priority. Plexiglas partitions, social distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of gloves, the use of face masks, allowing rooms to “air out” for three days between guests, and the use of sanitizing cleaners are all standard practice.

Best Price from a company that supports Oahu’s Back on the Wave Campaign

We have served Hawaii’s tourism industry since 2015. In the past, we predominately relied on third party booking partners such as Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com and others.  On Airbnb you can find hundreds of reviews on our properties and Staff.  More recently, we established an Oahu Vacation Renters Marketplace making our properties bookable at comparable rates but without all the third party booking fees. We guarantee the lowest booking costs when you book directly with us either through the WaikikiStay.com website, as a walk-in visitor, or via phone. Be confident that you are getting a great deal, and with Oahu’s Back on the Wave Campaign, that you will be safe.

Hawaii Welcomes Visitors

As the main hub of the Hawaiian Islands, it is no wonder Oahu is the most visited island. Hawaii serves up big city fun in a small island setting.  The Hawaii re-opening is just in time for the winter surf season. In other words, visitors can once again enjoy the best tropical venue the Unites States has to offer.

Waikiki BodyboardingWinter Surf Session

Hawaii may be synonymous with surfing, but Oahu’s North Shore has earned special bragging rights as a hang 10 mecca. Whether guests head there to watch the waves or carve a few of their own, the destination offers unparalleled surfing thrills.  The North Shore is just a one-hour drive from the world famous Waikiki Beach.

The North Shore of Oahu comes to life in the fall and Oahu is opening its doors to tourism after seven months of lock down.  This seven mile miracle offers country living at its finest with tons of shops in historical Haleiwa town, outdoor activities, and beaches. Above all, in the wintertime, the North Shore is known for its picture perfect waves.

Hawaii Re-opening Test Program

Of course, the Hawaii re-opening still has concerns over COVID. Albeit the percentage of positive cases in Hawaii remains in the lower single digits. Similarly, Hawaii ranks in the lower percentile relative to the other states. Therefore to mitigate this concern, the Governor has implemented a testing program. The program allows visitors to arrive and test out of the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.  Travelers must taken a Food and Drug Administration-approved COVID-19 test from a CLIA lab.  The test result must be negative and within 72 hours of traveling to Hawaii in order to bypass a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine.

Hawaii Dream Realty LLC OfficeFor the Hawaii re-opening, an accepted pre-arrival test is required of all arriving passengers who want to bypass the quarantine. The testing includes children of all ages. However, travelers who do not receive the results of their pre-arrivals test in time must stay in quarantine until they get their results back. The program is expected to expand the locations where travelers can get tested. Initially testing is available through CVS Pharmacy and through Kaiser Permanente.

Hawaii Re-opening Promotion

Hawaii is also actively working to safely open hiking trails, parks, attractions, restaurants and retail.  To promote the re-opening, we are offering a discount available through bookings on WaikikiStay.com.  Use promo code SAVE10 and get our low price guarantee. We offer a great selection of Waikiki vacation rentals for all budgets and family sizes. Our rentals are all right in the heart of Waikiki and all within walking distance to the world famous Waikiki Beach. Our vacation rental properties are privately owned and vary by amenities, building, square feet, number of guests, improvements, and views.

 

Experience Hawaii’s Cuisine

To experience Hawaii’s cuisine is to experience Hawaii’s culture. People from different countries, cultures, and religions fill our world. However, one universal bridge ties us all together. The universal bridges is food.  Food fills bellies and imparts a feeling of nourishment upon us all.  Furthermore, food crosses language barriers and opens hearts.

Local Grinds

The cuisine of Hawaii is also referred to as local grinds. Our local grinds continue to evolve with influence from chefs from all over the world. Micro farms and aqua culture farmers deliver fresh and unique island foods daily. The island foods provide a true farm to table experience with a fusion blend to tantalize the taste buds. The selection of restaurants represents the cultural diversity found in Hawaii. Enjoy beautiful views, beach side locations, romantic and fun ambiances, lovely and elegant settings, creative and innovative menus, and great food from Hawaii’s restaurants that accommodate all price points.

Experience Hawaii's Cuisine - 4 rice bowls filled with locally caught fish, farm fresh vegetables, and crispy wanton..

Experience Hawaii’s cuisine is to experience Hawaii’s culture. Pictured are four rice bowls decorated with locally caught poke, farm fresh vegetables, and crispy wanton.

Taste some of Hawaii’s favorite ono delicious foods including Kailua pig wrapped in ti leaves cooked in an underground imu oven. Try some fresh cubed fish known as poke served in with variety of sauces and seasonings.  Yearning for some fast food Hawaii style then go for a bowl of Saimin. Saimin is an inexpensive broth with noodles similar to Japanese ramen.  Eat your Saimin with chopsticks and then pick up the bowl and drink the broth.  Subsequently, on the sweeter side, indulge in a malasadas deep-fried dough rolled in sugar best eaten warm.  Finally, dig into an authentic Hawaii shave ice desert, a flavorful tropical cocktail. In summary, to experience island cuisine is to experience Hawaii.

Where to Eat

Finally, if you are looking for restaurant suggestions, our  mobile app includes a selection of Waikiki restaurants. Each restaurant includes a link to the menus, locations and contact information.  We update our local restaurant lists as we discover fun atmospheres and ono dining worthy of your time.

The Aloha Spirit

Hawaii’s unique charm comes from the Aloha Spirit. Aloha means the spirit of love, and is commonly used as hello and goodbye. However, Aloha also means compassion, kindness and giving. But the Aloha Spirit encompasses more than Aloha as it embodies Hawaiian values:

In summary, the Hawaiian value provide the foundation for a respected and treasured culture.

Hawaii is more than the physical beauty of the land, sea and sky.  Hawaii is a community with a long and fascinating history that continues to be felt in many ways. The people are happy and happy people are friendly people.

Discover Hawaii

Discover more about Hawaii by visiting the Bishop Museum or the Polynesian Culture Center.  Our Waikiki Bucket List offers more suggestions to help you discover Hawaii. The more you discover about Hawaii’s past, the more you understand modern-day Hawaii.

The past is still a vital part of the present in Hawaii.  Enrich your experience of the culture by experiencing the people and the spirit of aloha during your visit.  In doing so, you are helping to keep history alive.  Explore the traditions of the past that are still prevalent in the culture of Waikiki and Oahu’s small towns.

Kuhio Village Towers Hawaiian Blessing

Kapuna bless Kuhio Village Towers through traditional chant and ceremony. The towers memorialize the Hawaiian Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole who was a prince of the Kingdom of Hawaii. A coalition of American and European businessmen overthrew the kingdom in 1893.

Chanting

The early Hawaiians had no written language but they developed chants. As a result, chants recorded the genealogy of chiefs. Chants also are used during blessings and are a highly evolved verbal communication. Chanters remain an important member of Hawaii’s society. They preserve history and legend.

The Hawaiian Blessing is a traditional ceremony to bless new homes, canoes, businesses, babies, and food. The blessing calls upon great powers to assist in the safety, well being and success of the new creation. The blessing also cleans and clears the way of any conflict or negative experience that may have occurred in the past. The ceremony, performed by a spiritual leader, draws a community together to participate in honoring a new beginning.