Living in Hawaii: What the Pandemic in Paradise is Really Like

My experience living in Hawaii during a global pandemic.

Max Kim, Contributor

Waking up at 6:45 in the morning every weekday due to the HSPT time zone is not necessarily something many people would want from online school, but for the opportunity to live in Hawaii for months on end, many people might find it worth it. The days of crowded Waikiki Beach flowing with tourists has been in the rearview mirror, with the pandemic restricting many from coming to the islands. I came to Hawaii to take care of my grandparents, as the pandemic hasn’t been easy on the elderly. However, the vaccine distribution on the islands is a bright spot for my family, with more at-risk people receiving their shots now.

But there’s a reason Hawaii has had fewer tourists coming in compared to other states and countries.  Hawaiian Airlines requires a negative COVID test from one of a few approved testing sites, but the tricky part is the 72-hour window. One’s COVID test is mandatory to come back within 3 days before flying, so there’s a chance you might end up missing your flight. I for one got my results at 3:30 AM on the day of my flight after shipping in a saliva test that we had to order online.

So yes, there are some conflicting issues on whether you will be allowed to board the plane. Done away with has been the mandatory 14-day quarantine implemented from March to November of 2020, which has been reduced to 10 days in a hope to jumpstart the economy. If you provide a place of residence and a negative COVID test like I did, you are not required to quarantine and free until your plane takes you back home. Personally, I quarantined 10 days in a back room at the family house to minimize exposure.

A hidden blessing in the pandemic is the opportunity to live anywhere in the world, given that most peoples’ schooling or work is done remotely. I have lived for the last 5 out of 7 months in Hawaii, which is beneficial for taking care of my family and enjoying the scenic views. While Hawaii is nowhere near as boisterous and popular as it was, the nature and calm of the islands now have a whole new side I have never seen, speaking from the point of view of somebody who has spent over 40 months of my 17 years cumulative on the islands with my family. Of course, drinking guava juice on a beach is not as convenient with masks nowadays, but during a global pandemic, it could be a lot worse.