A vacation on the island of O‘ahu – also known as “The Gathering Place” – is best shared with friends and loved ones. Whether you are honeymooning, on a family trip, getting away with friends or exploring solo, following proper COVID-19 health and safety precautions to keep each other (and our local communities) safe is critical.
Preparing to Explore Responsibly
First, the basics: Keep face masks on or handy, follow social distancing guidelines, remember to wash hands frequently, and heed Honolulu county's latest health and safety protocols.
O‘ahu offers travelers a multitude of experiences and each lends its own adventure – no matter your party size. Staying in town? Rent bikes and cruise (with face masks on) through picturesque areas like Ala Moana Beach Park and the nearby neighborhood of Kaka‘ako, a vibrant, industrial community covered in murals by POW! WOW Hawai‘i artists from around the world.
Driving around the island? Pick up a car from one of our rental partners to venture beyond Waikīkī and indulge in world-famous coastlines, eat at unique mom-and-pop shops and restaurants, and choose from countless eco-activities. (Please visit your rental car company’s website for the latest COVID-19 protocols and updates.)
Avis and Budget, for example, are implementing enhanced protocols that include using EPA-approved disinfecting wipes, a 15-point checklist for cleaning and disinfecting every vehicle, contactless exits and social distancing throughout the rental process.
Regardless of your itinerary, flight attendant Heather Sanchez offers this advice: “Don’t forget to carry reusable items, like utensils, bags and water bottles, and reef-safe sunscreen, along with your hand sanitizer, when traveling. These small individual actions have a meaningful impact on protecting and preserving our island’s natural resources.”
Satisfying Your Cravings with Local Restaurants and Farmers
O‘ahu is home to some of the most diverse cuisine in the Pacific. Locally owned establishments, from restaurants and food trucks, to breweries and cafes, offer an expansive palate of flavors that capture the state’s “melting pot” culture.
"Hawaʻi's local restaurants have always supported local farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Our industries are interconnected and depend on each other. Without this relationship, we wouldn't have the diverse agricultural landscape we have in Hawai'i today," said Dean Okimoto, chairman of the Hawaiʻi Agricultural Foundation, a nonprofit sponsor of the Mākaukau Hawai‘i “We Are Ready” Campaign. "By choosing to dine-in or takeout from a local restaurant, you're not only supporting that business, but you're also supporting the farmers, ranchers and fishermen that grow, raise and catch your food, and the local community.”
A combination of feast and farm, Kahuku Farms is a staple lunch stop on your island tour. The family-owned business sells and incorporates its tropical crops, such as acai, banana and papaya into the menu of its farm café and store. Choose from refreshing acai bowls and smoothies, mouth-watering sandwiches, and more, or take home honey, jars of jam, and natural beauty products. Visitors can dine at socially distanced picnic seating with views of the thriving farm. Masks are required, and patrons should check the café’s latest hours and COVID-19 policies before visiting.
Experiencing O‘ahu’s Great Outdoors
If getting outside and experiencing Hawai‘i’s lush scenery is on your list, stop at Waimea Valley on O‘ahu’s North Shore and Kualoa Ranch on the eastern side. Waimea Valley immerses visitors in Hawaiian culture and lush greenery. Wander the paths of the valley with your masks on and find yourself towered over by centuries-old trees and surrounded by native flora and fauna, with the soothing sounds of birds and the river flowing to the mouth of Waimea Bay. Its open and shaded spaces are perfect for distancing your group, laying down a blanket for a lunch picnic, or joining a tour to further experience the property.
Kualoa Ranch, an iconic location to a handful of famous films, is another kama‘āina favorite. The 4,000-acre private reserve overwhelms visitors with its natural beauty, including jagged mountains, rolling hills, tropical farmlands, and an expansive coastal view with endless blue skies. Kualoa’s tours, from horseback riding to ziplining, are paired with opportunities to learn about the land’s sacred history and the preservation work to protect it for years to come.
Both Kualoa Ranch and Waimea Valley have readied themselves to welcome more visitors by reducing the size of their tour groups, training staff and installing signage to communicate protocols, requiring everyone to wear masks, and more.
“Waimea Valley is a wahi pana, a storied place, that also holds a wahi kapu, a space held sacred by our kupuna, or ancestors and is known for its healing powers,” said Richard Pezzulo, executive director of Hi’ipaka LLC, the nonprofit group that oversees and stewards the valley. “It is especially important to us to keep all who enter the Valley safe through contact tracing, multiple hand sanitizing stations, regular cleaning of high touch areas and we have over 300 acres of space to roam safely and keep the social distance requirements.”
Relaxing at your hotel
From the check-in experience to lounging by the pool, hotels have redesigned their operations to ensure guests can relax safely. Our hotel partners boast an impressive portfolio of health and safety protocols, from the check-in experience to the room cleaning process. (Please visit your hotel’s website for their specific COVID-19 protocols and updates.)
‘Alohilani Resort Waikīkī Beach has employed more rigorous cleaning procedures, installed hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass shields at check-in counters, added in-room personal protective equipment (PPE) kits with gloves, disinfecting wipes and a mask, and implemented social distancing measures so that all visitors can rest easy.
The hotel is a perfect one-stop-shop for vacationers looking to stay close to their property, which offers a panoramic view of Waikīkī, dishes up incredible meals and pūpūs (appetizers) at its Swell Pool & Bar and two on-site restaurants, Momosan and Morimoto Asia Waikiki, and is home to the “Light Monument” video art installation. The resort is also just steps from the beach with an infinity pool perfect for enjoying the sunset together.