It was the news we had all been waiting for – Hawaii’s Reopening! Governor Ige held a news conference at the Honolulu Airport last Wednesday to announce that Hawaii will reopen to domestic and international travel on August 1st, as long as visitors can show a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of departure. So, what does this mean?
Inter-island travel reopened without requiring a quarantine on June 16th. The 14-day quarantine is still in effect for domestic and international travel, and will continue to be in effect indefinitely. However, now there is another option for travelers outside the state. The model was taken from Alaska’s reopening this month. If a visitor agrees to take a Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure, and is able to show a negative result, they will be allowed to enter the state after August 31st without having to quarantine.
I feel like I am living in a pandemic bubble on Kauai. While the world continues to fight off the Corona Virus and the economy is at its breaking point, time seems to have slowed to a crawl on this little island in the Pacific. Our last confirmed case of Covid-19 was April 5th, bringing the total to 20. Our Governor and Mayor are very slowly and cautiously reopening aspects of society to residents, but the fear of allowing visitors back to the islands is visceral. Currently we have a 14-day quarantine for anyone (visitor or resident) arriving in Hawaii and vacation rentals are banned from operating. This, of course, breaks my heart as I have had to reschedule or refund 15 reservations so far. Waiting to hear each month if there is going to be another extension is stressful, to say the least.
It is hard for me to do what many here are doing, and that is to take advantage of this time to enjoy the island without crowds. The underlying reason always seems to crop up in my psyche. But, I will admit that not having helicopters and sightseeing airplanes flying overhead makes for some quiet and peaceful days. Being able to plan a trip to Lihue without considering Kapaa traffic is refreshing. And, quickly finding a parking space right in front of Foodland is Heaven! Yes, there are some advantages to having fewer people around.
The beaches are pretty idyllic as well. One trip to Ke’e found us at the end of the road sharing one of the most popular Kauai beaches with one woman and her son. Earlier Tom and I walked the stretch of Tunnels Beach passing a handful of people. SeaLodge Beach is generally empty and today we hiked down to Queen’s Bath (photo above) to find three local people searching for Opihi (Hawaiian shellfish) on the rocks. Yes, a few more people arrived before we left, but nothing like the numbers that are normally there when it is open.
The Hawaiian sea turtles were in abundance along the rocks and reef edge eating the algae that grows there:
It is a strange and unsettling time living with social distancing on Kauai. After all, being social is what small-town living is all about. I miss the hugs that have become our welcome greeting since moving to the Garden Island. I miss the barbeques, the dinner parties, the fundraisers. I miss having friends over to play cards. I miss playing pickleball.
Even though the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus on Kauai has remained at 21 since last weekend, with 17 recovering, the state and county orders are still in place as Oahu battles to lower the curve. Our night curfew is in place, most businesses are closed, very few people are working, and face masks are required when in public. Fortunately though, Governor Ige and Mayor Kawakami understand the need for residents to exercise. Outdoor activities are a huge part of life in an area of the world where weather is pretty perfect year round.
So, surfing, swimming and hiking are still doable as long as social distancing is practiced. With this in mind, on Sunday Tom and I decided to leave Bandit, our cat, and the hens behind for an afternoon of adventure. We drove to Honu Point, our vacation rental (now closed for business), parked, and hiked down the hill to Sea Lodge Beach. The last guests who stayed at the house told us about a waterfall they discovered. We were determined to find it.
As we approached the ocean, instead of going left to Sea Lodge Beach, we turned right. After climbing across some rocks and walking down the coast for a few hundred yards, we found what a lot of people want to see when coming to Hawaii, a beautiful waterfall.
Aloha to all of my subscribers: to past and future guests of our vacation rental, Honu Point, and to those who subscribe to find out more about the beautiful island of which I am lucky enough to call home – Kauai. This is, most definitely, the hardest blog post I have ever written. The coronavirus (Covid-19) is affecting every color of skin, every socio-economic level, and every walk of life. Kauai is not exempt. We are suffering too.
Because the first case on Hawaii came a couple of weeks after the virus hit the mainland, we did have a bit more time to prepare. Our governor and mayors of each county (island) acted quickly, enacting, first suggestions, and then orders, to prevent the spread of the virus. The first cases were travel related, either visitors coming to the islands or residents returning home. As feared, now some of the cases on Oahu are a result of community interaction with virus carriers. As of today there have been 224 confirmed cases in Hawaii and we had our very first virus-related death today.
Kauai, and it’s leadership under Mayor Kawakami, has been extremely proactive in keeping the virus from being spread throughout the community. As of yesterday, we have had twelve cases; all travel related. Six people with confirmed cases have recovered and returned home. The six remaining are residents who traveled back from the mainland. Five are in isolation at home and one has been hospitalized. Last Thursday, March 26th, a 14-day self-quarantine order was issued for anyone arriving in Hawaii, both visitors and tourists alike.
Update as of September 5, 2019: Parking reservations may be made one month in advance. There are three time periods for parking reservations: 6:30 to 12:30, 12:30 to 5:30, and 4:30 to sunset. For each time period the cost is $5.00. If all three time periods are available, you may reserve all three for $15.00 and park from 6:30 AM to sunset. If you arrive prior to 6:30 AM, leave the parking reservation under the windshield for the parking attendant to see. The shuttle is now $15.00/person.
The road is open! There is no better way of knowing how the new regulations work than to actually drive there and that is just what my husband and I did one morning in June (we have since been back a second time). We left our house in Princeville at about 7:15 AM. We had a smooth ride, breezing through Hanalei and crossing the bridges on the north end of the bay. It was a beautiful ride as we passed the enormous amount of work that has been done over the last 15 months since the 2018 flood.
I have been hearing a lot about these two Kauai driving guide apps lately. I must admit I have not downloaded them to my phone to check them out, but people are raving about them on social media. I did look them up and they both get good reviews. They might come in handy as you drive around the Garden Island.
Both apps use your device’s location abilities to play the commentary AUTOMATICALLY. Once you download the app to your device over Wi-Fi, no data, cellular or even wireless network connection is needed while traveling. Anyone can use them with no need for roaming data – even when visiting from another country.
It is like traveling with a local tour guide in your car!
The reasons are clear but the timing is questionable. The State Department of Land and Natural Resources announced on Monday that new parking fees at Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park will start on Friday, June 28, 2019. It is unclear how the parking will be managed but no reservations will be required.
Visitors will be charged $5.00 per vehicle for parking. One $5 ticket gets you into all four lookouts: Waimea Canyon, Puu Hina Hina, Kalalau, and Puu o Kila. For those on a moped or motorcycle, the cost will be $1.00 per person. Pedestrians in the two state parks will be charged $1.00. There will be fees for commercial vehicles and tours as well. Residents, with a Hawaii driver’s license, will not be charged.
Weather and surf reports vary tremendously depending on the time of year and your location on Kauai. During your tropical vacation you may find yourself in an area where it is raining or the surf is not to your liking. You wonder what it is like on the other shores of Kauai’s coast. Following is a list of websites and phone numbers that may help you determine the best place to spend your day.
If you want to see exactly what an area is like, at any given time, the best way is to check out the various live web cams that are around the island. Currently there are six on the north shore, five on the south shore and two on the east shore. When clicking the link to each camera, you will be taken to the website which hosts the web cam. The map at the bottom of the page shows the specific locations of each camera. This allows you to see the current weather at thirteen spots around Kauai.
So many visitors come to Kauai for a very special occasion: engagement, wedding, anniversary, maternity, milestone birthday, family reunion, or last hurrah before the teenage/young adult children start busy lives of their own. Others are simply celebrating the “trip of a lifetime.” Kauai’s scenic backdrop makes for some beautiful portraits. But, a selfie can only goes so far. Why not hire a Kauai photographer instead? I happen to know of three you might want to consider.
Of course there are many Kauai photographers of which to choose. I decided to feature these three because I have seen their photographs on social media and from what each of them say it seems like their personalities would lend itself to a fun, relaxing photo session. They all seem passionate, confident and willing to work with their clients to create beautiful portraits and, in one case, videos. All three will go just about anywhere on the island to find the perfect location (and weather) for your photo shoot. So, may I introduce……
Researching the differences between full face snorkeling masks and traditional snorkeling equipment has been a real eye-opener for me. Thousands of visitors each year hit the beach with snorkel gear in hand. Who doesn’t want to see what lies below the ocean surface? Heck, many have never even been in the ocean before. Warm water, tropical fish and sea turtles make for some impressive vacation memories.
But, unfortunately, for many reasons, this Hawaiian experience can be very dangerous. In fact, from 2008 to 2017, in the state of Hawaii, there were 183 drownings which occurred during snorkeling. 93% were non-Hawaii residents. More Hawaii visitors die from snorkeling than from motor vehicle crashes, aircraft crashes, falls or homicides combined. We want you to be safe!