The Samoan Fire Knife Dance is a breathtaking performance that visitors often look forward to when attending a luau. However, there is a lot more to this ritual than just a spectacular dance as it comes from centuries of tradition and is infused with lots of old-time lore and even personalization by performers.

It’s important to mention, though, that the fire knife dance is not at all a Hawaiian dance, and therefore is NOT showcased at the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau because we’re committed to keeping our shows truly traditional and accurate to our culture.

Where is the Fire Knife Dance from?

The Samoan fire knife dance originated in the South Pacific Island of Samoa and it was originally a war dance. The knife used in its performance even today is a traditional implementation of the ceremonial dances that came into prominence somewhere between 900 and 1200 AD, according to most Polynesian historians. 

In ancient times, the dance consisted of warrior gestures of victory in battle being displayed using a nifo oti (translated as “deadly tooth”), which was a wooden hand-held sword or club with boar tusks or shark teeth used to maim or injure enemies. 

The origin of the fire knife dance known today goes back to the ailao, which eventually became a traditional way for Samoan warriors to demonstrate their battle prowess with the performance of artful and complex movements. In its earliest days, this choreography was performed with a war club called anava, and some women —such as daughters of high chiefs— have been said to have taken part at some point. 

As warfare faded and became history, the Samoan war dance survived and the nifo oti became an important element in the Samoan Taʻalolo or gift-giving procession that honors special guests. Custom now demands in most formal occasions that the ornately decorated manaia (or prince) and Taupo (or princess) should lead taʻalolo processions, each carrying and twirling the nifo oti. This all keeps the tradition alive.

The Samoan Knife Dance Today

Back in the day, the fire dance was also performed to rhythmic chants or songs, but today that tradition has been mostly replaced with vigorous drumming on a variety of ancient and modern instruments which contribute to its popularity with most modern travelers. It is an energizing spectacle to witness, especially when there are more risky variations added to the dance by each of the performers.

The knife dance as it is best known nowadays —also called Siva Afi (siva means dance and afi means fire) or Ailao Afi— combines complicated acrobatics with twirling metal knives covered with cotton towels that are set on fire during the performance. 

Not many know that it was Uluao Letuli, a performer from American Samoa, who in 1946 added fire to the nifo oti. He is considered the father of the modern fire knife dance. He was also given the nickname “Freddie” because he could dance like Fred Astaire, so he had the skills needed to handle this new addition while keeping up the rest of the show. This revitalized the tradition and raised the bar for future performers.

The idea is said to have come to him while he was people-watching in San Francisco. Freddie was inspired by a Hindu fire eater and his baton-twirling daughter and decided to add fire to the knife dance routine. This dramatically increased the level of courage and skill required to perform an already difficult dance, making it even more impressive and compelling to watch. This new and exciting dance was an immediate hit, so Chief Letuli went on to perform it for many years after that. 

Nowadays, the expectation of seeing fire knife dances in luaus comes from the close familial ties between Polynesian and Samoan tribes and some homogenization of these dances as part of many islands’ cultures, but that does not mean they are part of all of our authentic traditions.

Where Can Fire Knife Dances Be Enjoyed?

Fire knife dance is usually reserved for the spectacular finale of those luaus where they’re performed. It’s considered to add some sizzle to celebrations and because the tradition has been passed down for generations, it’s rare to see a dance performance that’s the same as another, keeping things interesting, no matter how many luaus someone attends.

There’s something about the combination of music, athletic skills, and the dance of fire that’s mesmerizing to most. And in some shows, they even add extra props to keep the audience on their toes.

We will be forever thankful to Freddie Letuli for his immense contribution to the exciting Samoan Fire knife dance tradition which can be enjoyed in other Polynesian shows while our maui luau continues its own tradition of presenting only an authentic Hawaiian luau for all visitors to enjoy.

Is There a Hawaiian Fire Knife Dance At All?

No, although the traditional Hawaiian Hula dance is often performed along with fire knife dances during tourist shows, fueling the confusion.

Both dances are significantly different, even more than most people expect, not only because of the movements and music, but also due to the very distinct origins and meanings.

While the fire knife dance is a war dance, the traditional Hula dance is believed to have begun as a worship ritual dance to recognize genealogy, honor ruling chiefs, and honor gods like Pelé, the goddess of fire. It is said that the goddess Laka is the keeper of the dance now and that explains why this is the name most often heard when speaking about modern Hula dancing, if you’ve heard about the history of tradition.

However, the definitive origins of the traditional hula dance are somewhat still disputed as there are several local legends depicting possible different origins. One thing is certain, though: They are all magical stories, just like the dance itself!

Hula wasn’t originally performed to entertain, but to preserve culture and stories. For this reason, unlike fire knife dancing, hula variations and modifications were discouraged and dancers were expected to teach it in the same way they had learned it themselves.

Additionally, not all Hula dances are created equal nowadays. There are two main types of Hula dance still performed today, which are the hula kahiko (the ancient) and the hula auana (the modern), and while they are very different, they are both stunningly beautiful and unique.

What are the traditional dances performed at Old Lahainā Lūʻau?

The Old Lahainā Lūʻau show includes traditional hula dance (kahiko), modern hula dance (auana), and Tahitian dances. There are usually multiple performances throughout the evening, so visitors can enjoy different styles, costumes, and stories told through dance. The Tahitian dance in the show recognizes the migration of the first Hawaiian settlers who came from the Marquesas and Society Islands. If it’s at the top of your list to see a fire knife dance show, be sure to confirm it will appear in the luau you are attending.

You want to wear the right combination of confidence and comfort.

Maui luaus are special events for people of all ages and cultures, which means that you want to dress comfortably and appropriately for the occasion. There is no one right way to dress at luaus; rather, it’s about wearing clothes that represent the Hawaiian culture while also being appropriate for the event (leave the malo and pa’u to the dancers). There aren’t a lot of clothing choices when it comes to these parties, so just make sure you’re comfortable enough to have a good time in and that your outfit will look great against a sunset.

Hawaiian attire is always the way to go, which usually includes muumuu dresses, skirts, leis (which you’ll get as you enter most Maui luaus), aloha shirts, shorts, and slippahs (or flip-flops). Any of these choices represents the islands well! Some men like to wear souvenir shirts from Maui if there aren’t a lot of aloha shirts available. The only thing we recommend avoiding would be beach clothes (swimsuits are meant for the daytime).

Traditional Attire

What would people wear to a luau back in the day?

Traditional luau parties in ancient Hawaii were attended only by men, as men and women did not eat together. At these traditional feasts, the attire was a malo (loin cloth) made from kapa adorned with other items from nature to represent their rich culture. 

With the introduction of clothing, as we know today, in 1776 when Captain Cook arrived at these islands, modern styles of clothing were introduced and worn to luaus. 

At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, traditional Hawaiian luau outfits are worn by our staff and hula dancers to provide authenticity to Hawaiian traditions. These stunning outfits represent what ancient Hawaiians wore throughout history. 

Luau Outfits for Guys

Get buttoned up in a nice new aloha shirt or flaunt a local tee.

Guys tend to dress up a little more than the ladies at a luau, which feels like the opposite of the usual. At Maui luaus, a guy’s clothing can be anything from khakis and a polo to Bermuda shorts and an Aloha, or Hawaiian shirt. Everyone knows that Hawaii is HOT and pants are not a requirement for this event, though some Maui luaus have a more formal vibe.

Even long board shorts and a Maui t-shirt are acceptable to wear for an informal and fun evening by the ocean. Don’t forget to wear your “slippahs,” too! Olukai and other brands offer some comfy leather options with great arch support. A lot of people on-island call these their “going-out slippahs” and don’t wear them to the beach.

If you want to accessorize, puka shell or Maui hook necklaces are popular jewelry choices for men. You can find beautiful pieces carved from cow bone or whalebone on Front Street in Lahaina.

Shopping Options: Just wander through any clothing store and you’re bound to find an aloha shirt you like. For a bargain hunt, check out the used shirts at a local thrift shop or the Maui Swap Meet that happens every Saturday morning.

Luau Outfit for Ladies 

Rock a dress, shorts or skirt and shirt or whatever makes you feel good.

The traditional luau outfit for ladies includes a dress with beautiful Hawaiian patterns – from flowers to palm trees, or more simple designs. For ladies, strapless dresses or shirts with skirts are appropriate attire for a regular luau. For a more formal luau, a more fitted dress with sleeves and more traditional patterns is an ideal choice.

You’ll be adorned with a beautiful, fresh flower lei when you get here, but know that it’s also common to wear a flower behind your ear. If you wear the flower on the right side, it means you’re looking and if you wear it on the left, it means you’re taken. It’s a great way to show you’re single and ready to mingle without shouting it to the world!

When it comes to shoes – use comfort as your tool to make your choice! Stilettos are a no-no since most Hawaiian luau parties take place on grass, sand, or dirt. Wear your flip-flops (“slippahs”) or some cute flat sandal or wedges. You’ll be especially grateful you wore sturdy shoes after a couple of fruity drinks.

Shopping Options: A great resource to find these clothes would be Mahina in Paia (which also has Luau outfits for kids). Other shopping options are Maui’s Best in Lahaina and Ross.

Luau Outfits for Kids

Cute matchy-matchy or comfy-comfy?

The number one rule for kids is to make sure they are comfortable. You don’t want to be fussing all night with your child’s clothes that are “too ugly/tight/stiff/etc.” Too loose is an issue, too, because they could get caught by a stray palm tree or bush. Be sure to have your kids try their outfits on ahead of time to ensure there won’t be any complaints.

One of the sweetest options we see is a whole family wearing matching aloha print outfits. Dad in a shirt, mom in a dress, and the kids beaming right beside in the same print. And, bonus, you can use your Hawaiian luau photo as your holiday card!

At Maui luaus, little boys usually wear t-shirts or aloha printed shirts, shorts, and sandals to complement their outfits. You can find any of these kid’s clothing at any store on the island that sells clothes, like Walmart, Target, and Ross.

How dressed up do you want to get?

Nobody likes to feel over—or underdressed for a party.

Not sure how formal your Hawaiian luau is? Check out photos of previous guests on the luau Yelp page, website, or social media. You can usually find photos of people having a great time and usually wearing bright, cheerful prints. There are some more formal events, however, so if you’re not sure, you can always call them up and ask how formal the luau is.

CASUAL

The more low-key Maui luaus tend to be ok with bikini tops and board shorts. Strapless or sleeveless dresses are always welcome, and slippahs are a requirement (well, not really, but they’re very common)! Even the most formal luaus won’t be stiletto-friendly!

SEMI-FORMAL

A slightly more dressed-up version of a luau outfit for ladies would be a dress with sleeves, a skirt and top combo, or for a postcard-worthy picture, you can wear matching outfits for the whole family. There’s no such thing as a “formal” Hawaiian luau since it’s really just one big party. Try not to stress about the way you dress and just have fun!

We hope you found this guide helpful in planning your perfect outfit for a night of eating Hawaiian food, listening to soothing music, and watching the history of the islands take place on stage. At Old Lāhainā Lūʻau, our luaus are usually held daily during sunset hours, making for a stunning show and breathtaking photo opportunities for the whole family in their Hawaiian luau outfits. We are excited to host you and your family for a night you won’t soon forget. Old Lāhainā Lūʻau prides itself on Maui-style entertainment and onolicious (delicious) cuisine while keeping a strong focus on Hawaiian culture.

A luau is a Hawaiian celebration that includes food, drinks, and entertainment consisting of dance and music. When you look at that description it sounds like a party, and that is basically what a luau is. What differentiates a luau from just a normal party?

The First Hawaiian Luau

For thousands of years, Polynesians held consumption of food as a sacred ritual. When eating, there would be prayer and thanks given to various entities that allowed for the meal. Men ate in separate quarters and ate certain foods that were restricted from women and children. Other foods were reserved only for the gods and ceremonial presentation.

With the introduction of Christianity to the Hawaiian population in 1819, a large feast was planned by the urging of Kuhina Nui (Queen Regent) Kaahumanu, and her stepson, Kamehameha II, to abolish the ancient laws and temples of worship. Also, in direct defiance to one of the sacred kapu (forbidden laws) of mixed dining, the feast included the enjoyment of food and drinks in the company of both men and women, along with entertainment. This is believed to be the first Hawaiian luau. 

Cooking Methods

Besides cooking smaller food items on an open flame over coals, Hawaiians steam their large amounts of food in an imu (underground oven). Taro, sweet potato, breadfruit, pork, fish, chicken, and pre-wrapped food items, like laulau, were cooked in the imu. 

The imu is a pit dug in the ground normally about 5-6 feet wide and 2-3 feet deep; however, dimensions vary based on the amount of food that goes in. Kindling, then larger logs, then round porous rocks are placed in the imu and lit. After the rocks get hot, a layer of banana stumps are placed on the rocks, then the food items. Banana and ti leaves cover the food items, then several damp woven mats cover the imu. Dirt is then placed completely over the mats and the food cooks for anywhere between 8-12 hours, depending on its heat and contents.  

The History of the Luau

Hawaiian luaus were held to celebrate special occasions and mostly centered around food. Prior to the first westerner, Captain James Cook, arriving in the Hawaiian Islands, Hawaiians did not have the resources to produce metal and lacked the luxury of eating with utensils. Because they ate with their hands, food was prepared in a variety of ways. 

Fish and poi were the main foods eaten, as they were most abundant. Fish were eaten raw or cooked over coals or in the imu. Poi, the staple Hawaiian food made from taro that is steamed and mashed, has always been a favorite dish. Hawaiians enjoy eating other items such as breadfruit, sweet potato, banana, pork, chicken, and other delicacies from the ocean, including seaweed, limpets, and urchins. 

Hawaiians have long enjoyed awa, a calming drink used for ceremonial purposes, and often for recreational use. A distilled spirit created in Hawaiʻi is okole hao, made from the ti root. 

In the mid 1800’s, commerce and agriculture boomed in Hawai’i, which brought an influx of immigrant workers to work in the sugar cane and pineapple fields. These immigrant workers brought their culture and foods with them. Hawai’i then became known as “the melting pot of the Pacific” and from that point on, luaus includes a diverse menu of ethnic foods from around the world. 

Where did the word luau come from?

Before the word lūʻau was used to reference a party or feast, ancient Hawaiians used other words like pa’ina (party) or ahaʻaina (feast). In the mid 1800’s, people around the world heard of the Hawaiian islands, and a group of media writers were invited to experience and write about this beautiful place. 

A luau was prepared for them, where one writer asked, “what is this?” meaning “what is a luau?” or “what do Hawaiians call this type of gathering/celebration?” The host misunderstood thinking the writer asked what was the food in front of them. It happened to be a dish called luau, the name of the taro leaf, similar to spinach. That writer went on and shared that a Hawaiian party is a luau!

Our Maui luau brings people together, offering a full evening of food and entertainment for Old Lāhainā Lūʻau guests to have an unforgettable night. Wondering what to expect? Great food, unmatched entertainment, and an unforgettable cultural experience.

The Best Maui Luau: Old Lāhainā Lūʻau

On the scenic Lāhainā coast, we have proudly entertained thousands of guests for over 30 years (since 1986). This popular Maui luau features some of Hawaii’s hula dancing legends, singing sensations, and award-winning musicians. The big meal features traditional Hawaiian fare such as kālua pork, poi, and fresh limu (seaweed), along with an incredible spread of desserts. If you’re looking for a vegan luau, let us know and we’ll bring you some delicious meat-free options. 

The stage at Old Lāhainā Lūʻau is a show in itself. For decades, it has featured what many say is the most beautiful and unique show backdrop in all of Hawaii. Watch live as the sun sets over historic Lāhainā Harbor, and then stay after dark to experience one of the world’s only true luau evening shows under the stars! With ono (delicious) Hawaiian food, hula dancing, and music that entertained our ancestors, our Maui luau provides something special for everyone.

What food is served at this luau?

As mentioned above, some of the food is traditionally cooked in an underground oven, and some foods are prepared in a state-of-the-art kitchen on our stunning property. Due to current Maui COVID restrictions, the buffet option has beenreplaced with a taste of EVERYTHING delivered right to your table, restaurant-style. 

This authentic Hawaiian luau starts with crispy kalo (taro) and sweet potato chips with flavorful kalo hummus to dip them in. Enjoy a fresh local green salad with a breadbasket side and honey-guava butter to spread on top. Dive in for an ono sampling of Hawaiian food with generous portions of kālua pig, laulau (bundles of pork and taro leaves), fresh ahi poke, and salty lomilomi salmon that goes perfectly with freshly pounded poi. For a sweet palate cleanser, try the silky coconut haupia and sweet kulolo. 

After some entertainment, enjoy coffee and/or tea with pineapple upside-down cake and house-made ice cream. Drinks are free-flowing throughout the night for guests 21 and up. Guests who are vegetarian or have food sensitivities can let staff know and they’ll be taken care of.

Can guests experience a vegan luau or vegetarian luau?

Old Lāhainā Lūʻau cooks up masterpieces to delight our customers, including our vegetarian and vegan friends. If you prefer a plant-based life, that’s not a problem—you won’t be eating kālua  pig, but our chefs always cook up some great vegan-friendly options for our non-meat eaters. Visit us for a vegan luau that will make the meat-eaters jealous! Let us know ahead of time that you have guests who prefer meat-free options and we’ll facilitate a lovely vegan luau.

Are there drinks at a luau?

Fruity tropical drinks are one of the most enjoyable parts of an evening under the stars for those over 21 years old (be sure to bring your ID). Feel free to sip tropical beverages such as the Blue Hawaiian and Lava Flow that will put you in the mood for celebrating. Old Lāhainā Lūʻau also provides local beer options, wine, and cocktails made with premium liquor.

What is a luau evening of entertainment like?

Expect music, dancing, and aloha from our Maui luau staff. When you go to a luau there is always entertainment, like Hawaiian dancing performances by hula dancers and slack-key guitar music played in the old style or modern acoustic interpretations of traditional songs. Before COVID-19, there were cultural interactive stations, which are currently not happening. Instead they are shared as a presentation on stage during meal time, hopefully returning in the near future. 

Hula Dancing is what people think about the most when they think of a luau. The hula is so deeply connected to Hawaiian culture that it’s hard not to be moved by even just one performance; and there are usually many throughout the evening, with different styles being showcased. These incredibly talented performers have been practicing their moves since youth and it shows with effortless, mesmerizing dancing.

Music to groove or relax to by award-winning musicians, ukulele players, slack-key guitarists, and soulful singers from the local community, fills the air and reminds you to enjoy the simple beauty around you.

What is a luau appropriate outfit?

It’s fun to get all dressed up for a luau, so make sure you pack your best aloha shirt or dress, as well as shoes that are easy to walk in on grass (e.g., not high heels). Maui residents typically only go in Hawaiian clothing during special occasions like weddings, but visitors are seen in aloha shirts and sundresses regularly. Wear something cool, comfortable, and bright!

A luau is an opportunity for all of us to share what makes Hawaii unique, and how we preserve our culture. A luau draws people together, melts away all barriers, lays down racial differences, economic levels, gender, and religion. All are equal at the luau; everyone laughs together and enjoys each other’s company, united by love and aloha. Please join us for a magical, tropical evening at Old Lāhainā Lūʻau and we’ll show you what a Maui luau is truly supposed to be.

Hot sun, gentle ocean breezes, warm saltwater brimming with sea life. Visiting Hawaii right now sounds like a dream…but then again, there’s still a worldwide pandemic happening. 

As the pandemic winds down in the U.S. and travel begins to open up in some areas of the world, tourism is picking up and more people are taking all that money they saved and packing up to see the world…well, at least the safer parts. Hawaii is being inundated with tourists, which is great but can be confusing when you’re not sure what the current Hawaii travel restrictions are.

The only predictable thing right now is that things are unpredictable and changing constantly. Our goal at Old Lahaina Luau is to provide some calm in the storm of information by keeping you up to date with travel information, Maui COVID restrictions, and fun, safe ways to have a smooth vacation in Maui, even with the Hawaii travel restrictions 2021 brings. 

Hawaii Travel Restrictions 2021 Update: A Few Highlights

(as of July 8, 2021)

There are currently three ways to get into Hawaii:

  1. VACCINATED = NO PRE-TEST 
    As of July 8th, 2021 U.S. mainland travelers who are fully vaccinated can bypass quarantine (as long as there have been 15 or more days since the final dose). You will need to upload a photo and have proof of vaccination on hand while traveling.
  2. NOT VACCINATED? TAKE A PRE-TEST
    Skip quarantine by taking a pre-travel test (paid for by you) and a rapid post-arrival test (paid for by Maui County). The test must be from one of our state-approved providers and taken within 72 hours or less before your final flight to Hawaii. For those visiting Maui from the U.S. mainland or abroad, test results must be uploaded before flight departure.
  3. OPT TO QUARANTINE
    If you are not vaccinated and choose not to take a COVID-19 test before departure, you can complete a mandatory 10-day self-quarantine and shelter-in-place until it’s complete. You’ll need to check in on your smartphone or computer each day.

So, in a nutshell, the latest Hawaii travel restrictions update announced that as of July 8th, 2021, fully vaccinated visitors from the U.S. (ages 12 and up) no longer need to have a negative COVID test to get into Maui. Also, as of June 15, 2021, inter-island restrictions have ended between all islands, meaning you can travel between islands with proof of vaccination. The hope is that once Hawaii reaches the target of 70% vaccinated residents, they may be able to end the Safe Travels program altogether.

Current Maui COVID Restrictions: What to Expect on Island

Here’s a list of the most recent Maui COVID restrictions and what that means to you (as of June 15th, 2021). These rules include all Maui County islands; Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.

  1. Social Gatherings
    When you’re indoors, you can gather in groups of up to 10 people and up to 25 people outdoors. Multiple groups can gather if there are 6 feet in distance between them. This doesn’t apply to events, schools, etc. that have people ensuring that COVID protocols are being followed.
  2. Face Coverings Required Indoors
    Be sure to pack plenty of masks, as they’re still required when indoors by all people ages 5 and up (except when eating or drinking at a restaurant). No masks are required outdoors (as of June 15, 2021), however, Old Lahaina Luau requires all guests to continue wearing face masks when not sitting down and actively eating and/or drinking.
  3. Exposure Notification System
    All residents and visitors to Maui County, are urged to download the AlohaSafe Alert app or another Google-Apple Exposure Notification System app or enable their exposure notification setting on their mobile device, just in case.
  4. Physical Distancing
    Please continue to keep at least a six-foot distance from all people that are not from your household. This can be a challenge in congested areas, like Lahaina’s Front Street but we ask that you respect others’ personal space and wear a mask if outdoors in crowded areas or step aside to let others pass while keeping your distance. 
  5. Limited Occupancy
    Many restaurants and shops will be limited on how many people they can have indoors at one time. Please read all signs and peek inside to see if you can go on in or if you need to wait for others to exit first. The shop or restaurant owner can help you if you’re not sure. Please be patient, as we’re all just trying to get through this time safely.
  6. Keeping it Clean 
    You’ll find complimentary hand sanitizer out at most stores, restaurants, and activity locations, though it never hurts to carry your own. And you can bring bottles of up to 12 oz of hand sanitizer on the plane now. Employees that handle a lot of customer items, like cash or credit cards, are expected to be using hand sanitizer regularly.
  7. Disinfecting 
    Rest easy and know that businesses disinfect all high-touch surfaces, such as shopping carts, conveyor belts, counters, handles, knobs, and other high-touch surfaces multiple times throughout the day. Bring disinfectant wipes with you if you want to have the convenient option of wiping down your own surfaces.
  8. Clear Signs 
    You’ll see clearly posted signs at the entrance of each business letting you know about required face coverings, not to enter if you have a cough or fever, or are feeling ill, and maintaining a six-foot distance from others.

You can find the full text of the most recent Maui COVID restrictions on the Maui county website

Travel Tips for the Latest Hawaii Travel Restrictions Update

Follow these tips to get to Maui safely and smoothly during COVID.

  1. PROTECT YOUR VACCINATION CARD
    If you haven’t already done so, put and keep your vaccination card in a special place that is protected from wear and tear. DO NOT laminate it, but you can put it in a removable clear plastic sleeve. Be sure to take a photo of it on your phone, mark it in your favorite photos, and e-mail it to yourself or your family so you have backups. Always keep your card with you while traveling around Hawaii.
  2. PRINT A BACKUP
    Your health care provider or third-party vendor that gave you your vaccination will have a record they can print out for you (or one that can print from home on your health care provider’s website or app if they have one). Not sure where to find it? Call the provider where you got your vaccine and ask! It never hurts to have backups to your backups! Go ahead and text and e-mail it to yourself again so you have access to your COVID vaccination records wherever you are.
  3. PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS
    Now that you have proof of vaccination, plan your trip, and know that tourism is high right now, and going on the off-season (September to November) might be a better experience. Check with your favorite airline about any extra Hawaii travel restrictions 2021 is bringing and how that may impact your travel times.
  4. CREATE YOUR SAFE TRAVELS ACCOUNT
    This is the place you’ll be uploading the photo of your vaccination card ahead of your trip. Everyone in your party 18 and up will need to log in to travel.hawaii.gov and create their own account. Children under 18 can be accounted for under an adult’s account. Follow the simple instructions and you’ll be on your way to Hawaii, stress-free! You’ll need to fill out some basic information, upload a photo/scan of your driver’s license, and a photo/scan of your vaccination card. 
  5. TAKE THE 24-HOUR HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE
    Visit your Safe Travels account within 24 hours of your departure time and complete the health questionnaire to get your QR code (the black and white boxy barcode) that will help you get approved for travel once you’re at the airport.
  6. GET TESTS SCHEDULED FOR CHILDREN UNDER 12 WITHIN 72 HOURS
    At this time, to the best of our knowledge, children ages five (5) and older who aren’t vaccinated will need to follow the current pre-travel testing protocol. This means that children 5-12 who are not eligible for vaccination and children 13-17 who have not been vaccinated, would need to pass a COVID test within the 72-hour pre-travel test timeline.
  7. BRING MASKS AND SANITIZER FOR TRAVEL
    Pack plenty of clean masks to switch out every few hours (they can get stinky!), antibacterial wipes, and hand sanitizer to keep your space clean
  8. ENJOY AND RESPECT
    You made it to Maui during COVID! That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from the pandemic. Please keep wearing your mask, washing your hands, and distancing to protect our island and local residents.

Still have questions about the Hawaii travel restrictions 2021 brings?
Call this helpful center with friendly local people standing by to help answer your COVID travel questions. It’s open 8:00 am to 4:30 pm HST Monday through Friday at (808) 270-7855.

Maui COVID Restriction FAQs

Do I need to wear a mask in Maui? 
On May 25, 2021, Governor David Ige issued an amendment to the 19th emergency proclamation lifting the mask mandate for all individuals outdoors, effective immediately. Mask wearing is still highly recommended outdoors, when in large groups. Old Lahaina Luau requires all guests to continue wearing face masks when not sitting down and actively eating and/or drinking. The indoor mask mandate remains unchanged.

What if I lost my COVID vaccination card? 
No problem, just contact your health care provider (or place where you got vaccinated) and ask for your Vaccination Administration Management System (VAMS) printout for another form of proof. Some provider websites or apps provide your VAMS for easy printing from home, as well. If you’re already approved through the Safe Travels website, you’re good to go!

What should I bring to Maui? 

  • Pack items that will make for a more comfortable flight, like snacks (though you’ll need to eat any fresh produce by landing), an empty water bottle to fill up, and light clothes for sunny Maui weather. 
  • Besides having proof of vaccination, you want to have all necessary medications and prescription glasses or contacts for yourself and family members. 
  • Bring fun things to stay entertained, especially if traveling with children. A couple coloring books can go a long way (for you OR the kids).
  • Make sure to pack clean masks to switch out every few hours, wipes, and hand sanitizers to help avoid the spread of COVID.

Do I have to take the post-arrival rapid COVID test if I’m fully vaccinated*?
Maui’s post-arrival rapid testing program at Kahului Airport has ended, as of June 4, 2021. There is no longer any second (post-arrival) test required for travelers at this time.

International travelers will still need to take a test before leaving (as stated by the Safe Travels Program) to receive the travel quarantine exception. When deboarding the plane, your proof of vaccination will be confirmed by an employee, then you’re free to explore the island.

*Fully vaccinated means that you have received either both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine and it has been at least 14 days since your final dose. Proof of vaccination can be through your original CDC vaccination card or by showing your certificate of vaccination from the Vaccination Administration Management System (VAMS) from the CDC.

What about traveling to Maui with kids?
When traveling with keiki (children), keep these tips in mind:

  • Children two years and up must wear a mask at the airport, during boarding, through the whole flight and while getting off at their destination. 
  • Minors (children under 18) do not need to have their own Safe Travels accounts, you can add them to an adult’s account as a minor.
  • If you’re visiting from the U.S. Mainland, children under five do not need to quarantine or take a pre-travel test.