Travelling in a Pandemic: Honolulu, Hawaii

The last time I was in Oahu, Hawaii I was about 5 years old. It was 2009, and the only thing I can seem to remember from that trip were the double rainbows and holding fistfuls of wet sand, blissfully screaming, “fish poop!” while running on the beach. In my little bubble of Littlest Pet Shop and Lucky Charms, I can’t say that I was aware of what kind of struggle the world was facing at the time. Although, I never knew of air travel besides one where you had to take your shoes off at TSA checkpoints, and be meticulous on how much liquid was in your tiny shampoo bottle. Neither did I realize that these were all put into place for a reason, to me it was completely normal. My parents would always reminisce about how you could’ve walked loved ones right up to the gate and how you never had to take off a jacket or belt. And in today’s circumstance, that is facing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, air travel is facing a whole new set of challenges to keep people in the air. Especially alongside an infectious disease that is well known for traveling through…well, the air. 

Daniel K. Inouye Airport mask required sign, Photo by Tara Nguyen 

In desperate need of some time away, my family made the decision to spend a few days on Oahu in Honolulu for spring break. When we were weighing out the pros and cons, like is it even ethical to be traveling and how would it benefit us without it affecting the people around us? What provided us with the most peace of mind at the end of the day was that all travelers going to Hawaii had to have a negative test result within 72 hours of departure.

Photo by Tara Nguyen 

As for the actual traveling, that’s where it got a little more stressful—for me at least. Considering this was our first time traveling on a plane it was somewhat nerve wracking to be on a completely full flight to Honolulu. We took Southwest Airlines and they tried their best with making sure everyone was keeping their masks on at all times, and yes, they will tell you to fix it if it slides under your nose when you’re sleeping. 

With that being said, what we experienced in terms of restrictions wasn’t all that different from how it is back home. The beaches were often packed but most people tried to keep their own social distance away from others, and walking around with a mask was often a norm. There wasn’t any formal regulation as far as I could see but other beachgoers were respectful of our space and there wasn’t a problem with anyone getting a little too close for comfort. 

However, something that wasn’t too familiar to back home was how some restaurants had you fill out contact tracing forms upon arrival. Sure, restaurants in the Bay Area do often ask this of their patrons but it’s not nearly as common as it was there. They usually just asked a name, phone number, and time of when you showed up. As for the dining itself, masks were definitely a norm, I didn’t whip out any measuring tape but tables were generally eyeballed to be 5-feet apart, and reservations for any sit down restaurants is definitely recommended. 

Fire Control Station closed from public use on Diamond Head, Photo by Tara Nguyen 

For our short time there the only outdoor activity we did besides surfing and bumming it on the beach was hiking at Diamond Head. Now this is where we probably saw the most amount of regulations and restrictions. The popular tourist-pacted trail was no stranger to signs reminding you to keep your mask on the whole time as well as a few staircases and observation rooms being closed to visitors. 

However nice and relaxing traveling may be, we also always have to remember to tread lightly. Sure, things have been lightening up but COVID-19 is still dangerous and the only way to keep you and your friends and family completely safe is to stay home. That being said if you do choose to travel, be sure to get tested, do your research on local protocols, and be mindful of your surroundings.

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