– What’s it like to travel right now in Hawaii. I’m Chris, this is the Traveling Princess. We just got back from O’aho. Actually, we’re here right now. By the time you see this video we’ll be back so you can see it on YouTube. We’re going to tell you everything you want to know about how things are different in O’ahu. If you’re traveling here this summer. But before I tell you what it’s like actually different in Hawaii.
Let me tell you what’s different about the airline experience getting here. We flew out of John Wayne, Orange County Airport. United just started offering new flights this year this summer direct from Orange County, California to O’ahu. We got the flights for about two-hundred fifty bucks each pretty good deal. We bought seats for me. Osee girl, and our eighteen month Traveling Princess. Note, I have never traveled with so much stuff in our life. This is our first time traveling with a toddler more about that will be coming soon in our video all about tips for traveling with toddlers.
So the first thing that was different about this trip for us to Hawaii is this the only trip we’ve gone to Hawaii where we’ve had to get a COVID-19 test before we go. So Hawaii has this list of trusted providers that you have to get a test with. And they range in price. We’re members of Kaiser Permanente, which is a HMO health insurance organization. And they actually have a location a few miles from our house. So we went to Kaiser seventy-two hours before our trip to Hawaii. We stayed in our car. We got our nasal swabs, twenty-four hours later we got our COVID-19 result. It was negative. And so then we went to the travel.hawaii.gov website, uploaded our information.
When we went to the United check-in counter we printed our boarding passes. We checked in our luggage. And when we did that, then they asked to see our QR codes and they verified our QR codes there at the airport in Orange County, and then gave us these United wristbands. And they said with these wristbands you can bypass the QR code checks at Honolulu airport. That was pretty nice. And I’ll get to more about why that was so nice later. So now boarding the plane United’s is back to it’s usual boarding process with the group numbers and priorities and all those sorts of things.
As we walked onto the plane a flight attendant was handing out disinfecting wipes. That’s a new one. And of course, everybody was merry, wearing masks. Once the flight boarded and the door was closed the flight was about sixty percent full I would think in normal times, flights to Hawaii would be almost a hundred percent full. So this was generally less full than most of the flights I’ve taken in the past to Hawaii.
On the plane, they were doing drink service with a cart but the food service was significantly limited. They were handing out an all in one snack bag to people that included pretzels, the Biscoff cookie, and sanitizing wipes, and a water all in one bag. For Buy On-Board, they didn’t hand out menus. They had a QR code, you could scan. They were not taking cash or credit cards on the plane. They were requiring you to register your credit card in the United app or on the United website before you fly to then purchase things on the plane. We didn’t actually do that, but the new check-in experience does prompt you to register a credit card, so you can buy on-board.
If you are expecting to buy food on-board on United then make sure you register a credit card ahead of time. The other new thing on the plane is in the bathrooms, in addition to the soap they also had a hand sanitizer dispenser right next to it. We didn’t have any significant mask altercations. None of the passengers on our flight were punching the flight attendants. I will say that the mass compliant was decent. The flight attendants would remind people occasionally.
Some people were probably wearing their masks a little less than they should. So after a smooth five and a half hour flight, we landed in Honolulu airport. When we got off of the jet bridge we were greeted by a military officer who wanted to take our Traveling Princess’s temperature. He didn’t take our temperature but he did take our baby’s temperature. I guess that worked out well. So we were allowed to continue through the airport.
Now, as we walked out of the terminal where the United flights are there then became some lines and signs about have your QR code ready. There were a whole bunch of line stanchions set up on the right hand side, but they looked at our wristbands and sent us to the left and said, go on with things no problem. Which was nice, because those lines looked like they could be quite long to scan the QR codes at the airports. Not all airlines are doing this and not out of all airports, but some airlines out of some airports are doing the pre-clearance there. So if your airline is offering it, your airport make sure you take advantage of it. So you don’t have to stand in line when you get to Hawaii.
Now, if you pass the QR code checks, the general vibe of the Honolulu airport was pretty much dead. A lot of the stores and restaurants were closed or they had limited hours. We picked up our baggage as we usually do headed across the street to pick up our rental car. The rental car lines were unusually short compared to previous years. I know there is whole rental car shortage and there are stories about people getting here and not having rental cars available for them. That wasn’t a problem. We got our rental car with Hertz that we booked about four months ago.
For six days, we paid four-hundred and fifty dollars. I tried to look at what the rates are like a week or two ago. They were all sold out. So they weren’t even booking cars. So if you’re planning a Hawaii vacation make sure you book a car well ahead of time because the rates are pretty crazy but we did get our rental car, no problem. They gave us a Ford Explorer, which is a huge car which is kind of tough to drive in Honolulu um but it was nice to put all the baby gear in it. So then we drove our Ford Explorer towards Waikiki and stopped at our favorite Zippy’s for some Hawaiian plate lunches. Now the experience at Zippy’s was different because there was no dine in at all. Everything was takeout.
In Hawaii, They are currently allowing dine-in but not all restaurants are actually allowing dine-in. So Zippy’s is one place that was just to go. So we got our Zippy’s to go we ate in the car. It was still pretty tasty. Made our way to the Hyatt Regency in Waikiki, where we checked in our room wasn’t quite ready, but as we were checking in, they asked to see our QR code on the Hawaii safe travels website. Actually, they wanted more than the QR code. They wanted both Osee girl and I on our cell phones to log in to the Hawaii Safe Travels website, and show them the page that has the QR code and the flight information.
And I’m going to tell you just a little bit more about the hotel experience and then I’ll tell you about the rest of Hawaii. So the hotel itself, the check-in lines were long because they had only two check-in counters open. I think they’ve got less staff due to the pandemic and everybody was still arriving in three o’clock at the same time. There was no valet parking only self parking, which is annoying because the parking structure here is really lousy. We would’ve valet parked, (baby cooing) actually we self, parked. And then at the check-in desk, when she said, “Hey are you self parking with us?” And I was like, we did but I think we’d really like to valet park
When we come back, she’s like, ah, yeah, about that. Yeah, we’re not doing valet parking, like, Hmm, okay. They asked if you know we want housekeeping every day, every couple of days, every four days we opted for every day. So they are doing daily housekeeping, at least at the Hyatt Regency. Now across the hotel, many things are still closed. Many restaurants are still closed. Many shops in the hotel are open limited hours. The breakfast buffet is now full service, so instead of serving yourself, they serve you. They also offer a takeout option. If you dine in at the breakfast buffet then they were doing a temperature checks. And they also asked us to do a contact screening where we filled out our name and information.
The Traveling Princess back here has decided she wants to be in the video. We just finished breakfast here on the balcony. And she was like, Papa, why am I not in this video? Well, now you are Traveling Princess. Now that we’re finished with the flight experience, getting to Hawaii. Let me tell you what it’s like actually here in Hawaii. And coming into Waikiki, the traffic, there’s still traffic. Actually, there’s more traffic than we thought. I think people are now starting to come back to work.
So traffic is starting to get busy again. Getting to Waikiki, we thought it would be empty and nobody was here. But as soon as we started coming down that main street we saw lots of people on the beach. Lots of people on Waikiki’s main business district. When we checked into our hotel, we found the parking garage to be quite full long lines at check-in, and so even though there are no Japanese tourists here even though Hawaii is open to the Japanese. There aren’t any Japanese tourists cause they have to quarantine when they go back home. There’s still a lot of tourists from the mainland, probably because it’s cheap and so a lot of people want to come here.
Although a lot of the businesses and the restaurants are still closed, which makes the ones that are open, get extremely busy the Eggs and Things in Waikiki the Morrow Gamay Udon had lines that went all the way down the block, because there’s about half as many seats in those places as there used to be. Our favorite place to eat in Waikiki, Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin we usually have no problem eating there. If we get there at opening or get there at three o’clock we got there ten minutes before they opened and they told you we had to come back in two hours because everything was on a reservation basis.
We found a lot of the restaurants we would go to would do temperature checks. They would ask us to fill out information about our name and our phone number, like contract tracing. Sometimes people ask us to do it on a phone. Sometimes people ask us to hand write it. It was really hit or miss how they did it and actually some stores were doing temperature checks too. So overall, most thing like the big tourist attractions like Diamond Head right here, it’s open. The beaches are open.
Probably the best thing, if you’re planning a trip now is that um you don’t have to wear masks outside. Masks are only required inside, but you’ll still see a lot of people out on the streets wearing masks, maybe cause they had them on. cause they went out of a store maybe they feel more comfortable. So it’s about fifty-fifty people outside that are still wearing masks. Now a lot of people ask me about live entertainment and there is still some live entertainment in Waikiki out here at Duke’s on the Beach there’s a live band. at the Westin Moana Surfrider there was a live band, but what we didn’t see, we didn’t see the typical hula performances that are everywhere, in front of the Hyatt there’s usually hula performance. Ala Moana there’s hula at some of these shopping centers, you’ll see fire knife dances.
The torches that are usually on, on Waikiki beach the public ones on the beach. They are not on, there’s a few torches here at the hotels that are on, but it just doesn’t have the same amazing lively Hawaiian vibe where you just like walk into a mall, And you’re like, oh my gosh, there’s someone like dancing with fire, but it is busy and at Duke’s, we heard there were some people waiting for a table for three hours.
So if there’s some places that you want to eat at definitely make a reservation or you might be waiting a really long time for your table. Now overall, although things were busy we had to wait in line to eat. Things were limited. We had to wait in line to get into stores. We still really enjoyed our Hawaii vacation. Just plan for things. If you’re coming to be a little bit more island time because due to the pandemic things take a little longer. It takes longer to get through the airport. It takes longer to pick up your rental car. It takes longer to check in. It takes longer to eat places. And also restaurants, shops, open later and close earlier. In Waikiki, lots of things were opening at noon and closing at five. So if you do come make sure to plan to get to things as they were open.
For example, Diamond Head right here the last entry is usually four-thirty, due to the pandemic, the last entry is now four P.M. Well if you enjoyed this video, you might enjoy watching some of our other videos on Hawaii. In particular, you’ll find our video right here, all about this hike, all about hiking Diamond Head or our full playlist right here.
As usual, we won’t say goodbye because we’ll see you in one of these videos. Since we’re in Hawaii, we’ll actually just say “aloha.” (wind blowing) (baby cooing)