For Christmas 2020, my family made the decision to follow through with our vacation plans to visit Kona, Hawaii, for a week of “Mele Kelemaka” on the Big Island. The decision was not made lightly, and we seriously debated going, but we followed all of the guidelines and safely made it to the island on December 16th.
It took a lot of planning to get to the island. We had to do much more than the usual “where to stay” and “what to do” research for our trip. The new COVID-19 policies almost deterred us from taking the trip, but we persevered, and figured out what we needed to do to get there safely.
While doing our research we found others facing these same frustrations and hesitations, so I wanted to share exactly what we did to get to Hawaii safely.
*Please note that things may change before you arrive on the Island. We arrived December 16th, but things are constantly changing, so check Hawaii.gov to make sure you are up to date with current guidelines.
Step One: Figure out Which Island To Visit
Each island has different restrictions. Before we booked our flights we had to research each one to see where we wanted to go. We figured out where we should go by looking at different government and local websites (like HawaiiCovid19.com) to see how things were looking and learn about current restrictions.
For example, Kuai had a mandatory 14 day quarantine requirement regardless of test results, so we did NOT want to book there!
Here are a few resources that we found helpful:
Step Two: Get The Correct COVID Test on The Correct Day
Scheduling our appointments and getting tested was by far the most stressful part of this process. All of these pandemic precautions are so new to everyone that we were all worried about doing something incorrectly. There is a lot of different information out there, and there were a lot of things we could have done wrong, but luckily, we figured it out and did everything correctly.
Essentially, we needed to find a testing facility near us that was on the Hawaii list of official providers and get the test within 72 hours of our arrival to the island. For us, this meant we needed to be tested after noon on Sunday for our Wednesday flights.
We chose to get tested at Walgreens and had back up appointments scheduled at Go Health Urgent Care, because both provided results within 24 hours, but Walgreens had appointments scheduled 3-days out where the urgent care was first come-first served. This gave us plenty of time to get our tests on the calendar and eased some of our concerns.
We arrived at the drive-through pharmacy window for our appointments, and all we had to do was show our confirmation emails and drivers licenses to the pharmacist. We confirmed for the hundredth time that we were getting the correct test to enter Hawaii before the pharmacist handed us our swab. Once we were handed our sterile swap, we swabbed our noses and handed them back. It was very easy!
Only about an hour later, we all received emails letting us know that we all were NEGATIVE! It was a major relief. Now, we had to prove it to get on our flights!
Step Three: Uploading Results and Declaring Our Travel
Once we had our emailed negative test results, we created traveler profiles on travel.hawaii.gov. 24 hours before our flight, we logged in and answered all of the required questions. They asked us to upload our negative results, take a health questionnaire, and declare our travel plans to the state. This was the easy part.
Step Four: Showing Your Code in The Airport
We landed on the island and kept our fingers crossed that everything would go smoothly.
It turns out that we were randomly selected to be tested again. We didn’t expect to get tested when we landed, because we had read that only 25% of people were being tested upon arrival, but it seemed like our entire plane had been chosen to be tested again.
In the meantime, we picked up our luggage and our rental car and drove to our Airbnb. In that time, about an hour had passed and none of us got a call!
We had successfully and safely all made it onto the island!!!
We were so relieved that we had all made it to Hawaii without incident! From here, our vacation and our relaxation was set to begin.
One of my absolute favorite things about Colorado is the mountains. They are what draw most people to the state, but I love them not only for their beauty or fantastic skiing but for their geological make up.
I know. Totally nerdy, but what's inside and underneath the mountains amaze me more than anything else I have had the opportunity to explore. The Continental Divide, to me, provides a window into the world below us, and the most relaxing manifestations of that world are hot springs.
Waters from the surface seep down so deep into cracks between tectonic plates that they are heated by the magma of our Earth's interior. To me, that is absolutely mind blowing! I cannot see and learn enough about these places, yet I have only been to about a dozen of the state's 93 geothermal areas!
Even though I have only begun to scratch the surface, I want to share the locations I have been to, because each one is much different than the others! The Resort and Spa locations are listed first followed by Natural Springs. Each features directions from Denver, the cost of admission, and a little bit of my experience.
You can read more about all of the hot springs and much more from across Colorado on my Colorado Travels Page, here!
Resort and Spa Hot Springs
Since the hot spring waters have to travel such far distances underground to be heated, many of the pools host lots of sediment and minerals from the porous rocks they flow through. These mineral rich waters have been a part of Colorado's history for centuries. Native American tribes believe some spring waters are full of healing powers while others are considered sacred.
Over the years, these waters became large tourist destinations. To protect many of the springs and their fragile surrounding areas, safer soaking areas were created for large crowds of people to come.
These areas often boast board walks, designated man-made pools, and other amenities. These are now the most common kind of hot spring you will find in Colorado, and I've listed the locations I have been to.
The Springs Resort and Spa was the very first hot spring I went to in Colorado! It holds a special place in my heart for not only that reason but for the fact that I had the ENTIRE spa to myself. It was because of a snow storm, but it was still very relaxing and enjoyable.
Located in Pagaso Springs in Southern Colorado roughly 5 1/2 hours from Denver.
Cost $35 for adults to enter.
Click here to see more of my experience, or visit their website to book!
Indian Hot Springs is the closest spring to Denver that I've visited, and I cannot lie: It is one of my favorites. The indoor hot spring pool area doubles as a green house for huge tropical plants that surround the turquoise water. Plus, the geothermal caves are an incredibly therapeutic experience!
Located in Idaho Springs off of Interstate 70 roughly 45 minutes from Denver.
Cost $18-20 for adults depending on the day and $33-34 with access to the steam caves. Indian Hot Springs offers more amenities as well.
Click here to see more of my visit, or visit their website to book!
Strawberry Park Hot Springs was another spring that I visited during a downpour of snow, but is was pitch black and the middle of the night! Strawberry park stays open very late into the night, and after dark, clothing becomes optional. It is the perfect place to soak after a long day of skiing!
Located near Steamboat Springs about 3 1/2 hours from Denver.
Cost $15 for adults, and no children are allowed after dark.
Click here to see more of my night at the spring, or visit their website to book!
Iron Mountain Hot Spring is nestled in the side of the red walls of Glenwood Canyon and provided John and I with the best views of almost any hot spring I had been too. We went on a hot, summer day and enjoyed our time soaking along the banks of the Colorado River.
Located in Glenwood Springs about 3 hours from Denver.
Cost $25 for adults and children to enter.
Click here to see how we spent the day in Glenwood Springs, or visit their website to book!
Desert Reef Hot Springs was an oasis on a blustery day in the desert of the Pike's Peak region in Colorado's southern foothills. Clothing becomes optional at the single, large pool after 6 p.m.
Located in Florence, Colorado, in the Royal Gorge Region about 2 hours from Denver.
Cost $20 for the day.
See more about my experience here, or visit their website!
Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa boasts 22 different pools ranging in temperature and size. A girlfriend and I spent the entire afternoon exploring each and every pool and deciding which ones we liked best.
Located in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado, about 2 hours from Denver.
See more about my visit here, or watch my YouTube video below.