With Hawaii slowly lifting their restrictions on tourism, now is the perfect time to go visit. But before you purchase that plane ticket, these are the Top 8 things you need to know first.
1. Pre-Clear: In order to visit Hawaii, you must first go online to travel.Hawaii.gov , set up an account and either upload a copy of your vaccination card or negative Covid results. You must also complete a health questionnaire and 24 hours (I did it right there in line because I wasn’t aware of this prior to arriving at the airport) before travel, you will be sent a QR code that you must present at the airport in order to board the plane for departure (You will be given a wristband indicating you have been cleared). This pre clear option streamlines the arrival process, otherwise you’ll have to do this entire process in the Hawaiian airport alongside all the other passengers who arrived from flights within the US that didn’t do it either.
2. Car Rental: Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiian Island chain and everything is fairly spread out, so renting a car is a MUST. Maui (and Hawaii in general) is currently in a rental car shortage, so I would highly recommend finding a car on Turo. I would also recommend a SUV for the various types of terrain you’ll drive through.
3. Haleakala National Park: This is definitely a must see place when in Maui. You’ll have the opportunity to see a Hawaiian sunset from ABOVE the clouds as once you drive to the top, you’ll be at about 10,000 feet of elevation. It is important that you 1. Dress for the occasion (temperatures are freezing at night) and 2. Arrive around 4:30pm for prime parking as the parking lot fills up usually by 4:45pm.
4. Whale Watching: Maui is one of the best Hawaiian islands to go whale watching on. With peak season being January – March, be sure you contact Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel for great small group tours. They’ve been in business for over 20 years and I would HIGHLY recommend them.
5. Pricing: Hawaii is CRAZY expensive, especially its food. Hawaii imports about 90% of its food from the mainland, thus driving up the cost the consumer must pay for it.
6. Road to Hana: This is arguably what Maui is most known for. The Hana Highway is one of the most scenic drives I’ve personally every experienced, but it is full of tourists. The key to conquering the Road to Hana is starting it in REVERSE. Why you ask? Because you’ll be going to opposite way against the traffic. What would take most 8 to 10 hours to do (many scenic stops along the way and TERRIBLE tourist driving), you can do in half the time by doing the drive backwards.
7. Get with a local: It is no secret that Hawaii is the ultimate tourist getaway. We know that and more importantly, they (Hawaii) know that too. Being that Hawaii is new to most visitors, they eager to sign up for a guided tour that EVERY LAST TOURIST WILL BE ON. You’ll make stops at various destinations and see nothing but tourists. Why? Because the locals know better. They know the “hidden gems” of Maui that can only be found with their help. (i.e. Hidden Waterfalls and secret Black Sand Beaches) Places where you’ll find few, if any, other people other than yourself and your local friend.
8. Sea Turtles: Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles make their home in Hawaii and while they are beautiful creatures that can be seen catching some sun on the shores of many beaches and underwater while you’re on a snorkeling expedition, they are HIGHLY illegal to touch (the fine is anywhere between $1000 and $10,000). Most locals don’t even want tourists getting close to them and will yell at and report you to the authorities, so keep your distance.