Since March 26, when all the islands of Hawai’i shut down to non-essential travel, we’ve missed you, our guests.
A lot has changed since we last hosted visitors to our islands.
Like the rest of the world, we’ve battled the Covid-19 pandemic with mixed results. The initial shutdown was successful in keeping the case counts low, but the economic impact was more devastating than any other state in the U.S.
Hawai’i relies heavily on tourism. Thousands of people were suddenly unemployed when hotels, tours, activities, restaurants and bars were all forced to shut down. Even when the local economy opened back up in May, the lack of tourism dollars put extreme pressure on all businesses (like ours) that are directly- or indirectly- tied to tourism.
When the local economy did open up, case counts started to rise, as they did everywhere. But Hawai’i is a special place, and our island home offers a natural defense from the virus spreading when flights in and out are restricted.
So Hawai’i has been fortunate, relatively speaking. Only Vermont and Alaska have recorded fewer Covid-19 related deaths, and as of this writing, Hawai’i has the lowest number of cases per 100,000 over the last seven days.
The biggest reason for this success is our community. From the beginning, our residents have taken Covid-19 protocols seriously. We have practiced “kuleana”, the Hawaiian word for “responsibility”.
We ask that you practice “kuleana” while you’re here too. We love sharing our island’s beauty, cluture and history with you. We simply ask that you show us the mutual respect by adapting to our high standards of social responsibility so we can continue to welcome guests after you’ve gone home. A big mahalo to you for your cooperation!
Some other things have changed since March; some of them less reported and positive.
For starters, our ocean waters are clearer than they’ve been in a long time. University of Hawai’i marine biologists at Haunama Bay monitored the water for several months after the popular snorkeling area closed and found remarkable improvement in the water quality and the presence of marine life. It is currently open to a limited number of visitors each day. If you like snorkeling, there has never been a better time to visit this remarkable bay. It’s like swimming in a giant aquarium.
Even now, many beaches are populated by “bait balls”, large schools of fish that are swimming very close to shore as a result of fewer humans in the water. These bait balls have generated more shark sightings than usual, as sharks follow the bait balls into the shallow waters to feed.
Of course, the main reason for the improved water clarity is that our beaches are less crowded! You’ve chosen to visit Hawai’i at a time when you’ll be able to experience our world-class beaches at their best.
Not only are the beaches less crowded, but so are the roads. Nowhere will you enjoy the drop in traffic more than Oahu’s famous North Shore, where two lane Kamehameha Highway could not handle the traffic when visitor counts were pushing six million Oahu visitors annually. We’ve included a long feature story on the North Shore in this issue because there has never been a better time to visit this special place.
Lastly, if you’re staying in Waikiki, enjoy the less crowded sidewalks, the friendly locals who are happy to see you, and the restaurants and shops that have re-opened to serve you!