1st Quarter O’ahu Real Estate Update: We’re Just Gonna Wait

Real estate prices on O’ahu hit new highs in March 2022. The median single family home price peaked at $1,150,000 and condos peaked at $500,500. Both only took 9 days to go under contract. Meanwhile, single family home sales are down due to lack of inventory and buyers getting priced out of the market. With people heading back to the office from remote work, perhaps we’ll continue to see more condo sales as the year goes on and prices increase. 

Last year, when interest rates were 3%, a $3000 monthly payment afforded you over $600,000 in mortgage. At today’s rates with an increase to 5%, that same payment gets you a mortgage in the $500,000 range. Buyers who either got burnt out last year or said, “We’re just gonna wait for the market to cool off,” are now dealing with higher interest rates. Have prices come down? Nope. Many buyers are feeling the FOMO and paying $100,000 over the asking price. It’s crazy. 

So what should you do? If you’re a buyer, you just have to get in. Instead of searching for your 30 year home, make it a 3 to 5 to 7 year plan instead. Allow the home to appreciate, force you to save, and restructure the loan as you pay it down or leverage it to work towards that dream home. The graph above shows you how homes appreciate on O’ahu over time. Historically, it’s 4-5% per year. If you’re a seller who’s waiting for the market to rise some more, don’t wait. Get that home on the market and capitalize on the summer months ahead. Plenty of buyers are out there will be so appreciative of your property. Wait too long and you’ll be selling in a flat market stressing over why your property hasn’t gone into escrow in 2 weeks like your friends’ houses.

Okay…now for a story.

I was on the plane coming home from a little weekend getaway last week. I was reading Entrepreneur Magazine and finishing a Bikini Blonde (beer, that is) when a guy in the row behind me said, “So, you’re an entrepreneur?” I was in semi-vacation mode and in my opinion, I wasn’t the usual, sunny Maila I always am. He asked, “What do you do?” Thinking I’d never see him again, I replied in a monotone voice, “I’m a real estate agent.” That usually goes one of two ways: either people turn and run or they wanna know all about the crazy real estate market and when it’s gonna crash. Instead, he said, “Do you do videos on YouTube?” I thought, oh crap. I really should have been nicer. “Yes, I do” I said. The seat belt sign went off and everyone started to shuffle as we were deplaning, he said, “My wife and I watched all your videos before moving here from Colorado. We wanted to learn about the neighborhoods. Things got a little chaotic, not only as we were shuffling off the plane, but in my mind. People are actually watching my videos. What are they doing as a result? Do they watch them for the scenery? Do they know I’m a real estate agent? While I hope my videos help people, I want them to pick me to be their realtor! Why? Because I’m good at it. I love it. I genuinely helping people (although my helpful attitude in that very moment left little to be desired). I’m aint no saint. I like getting paid too. 

“My name’s Mike” he said, and shook my hand. I said, “I’m Maila. So nice to meet you.” 

And that was that. Probably should have handed him my business card, but he knows where to find me on YouTube. 

Fixer Upper in Honolulu’s Trendiest Neighborhood: Kaimuki

Fixer Upper in Kaimuki – One of Honolulu’s Trendiest Neighborhoods

Kaimuki is similar to what Brooklyn is to Manhattan and what Mar Vista is to Beverly Hills or Malibu. It’s a spillover neighborhood for those who want to live in Diamond Head or Kahala without the same price tag and with a little more of a rooted feel. Kaimuki is an older, established neighborhood responsible for precious kid time memories among the lower end of Baby Boomers and the top end of Gen X’ers. Some of the greatest Hawaiian musicians were raised in Kaimuki (or Palolo Valley, rather) like Ernie Cruz, Jr., Chino Montero, Ben Vegas, Troy Fernandez, Greg Sardinha, and everyone’s favorite – the Hawaiian Supah Man – Bruddah IZ. 

Homes in Kaimuki were built as far back as the 1930’s. The proximity to the the freeway and main surface streets as well as Waikiki and Diamond Head is unbeatable. Waialae Avenue and Kokohead Avenue presents a truly walkable block of quirky, fun shops and restaurants. Many trendy eateries have popped up like Pipeline Bakeshop, Via Gelato, Coffee Talk, and Kokohead Café. You can grab a nice bottle of wine from Tamura’s and a super cute charcuterie tray from Bubbly & Bleu. A local favorite, Fort Ruger Market is on the Diamond Head side and offers one of the best poke bowls in town. 

Fixer uppers are common as homes have been passed down through generations. Many buyers these days are looking to preserve the old charm rather than knocking them down and building monster houses. Although, you’ll find your fair share of those monstrosities in Kaimuki too. 

The streets are lined with mature trees. It’s definitely a townie neighborhood, but what a treat to have a house with a yard within the hustle and bustle. It’s classic, yet trendy; old, but new; evolving, yet familiar. 

Check out the following blog from Dwell Hawaii for additional and valuable information. 

We Bought A House. It Needs Work. NOW WHAT?!

Special mahalo to Trevor Drinen of Signature Inspections Hawaii for his expertise!

Buying a home in Hawaii is a dream. It can also be HUGE disappointment, not only because of the cost, but because anything around the median price of a million dollars is going to be small compared to what you can get on the mainland. It will be 40-50 years old, won’t come with an acre or more of land, it won’t have a basement, is on post and pier foundation, might be on a hillside if your priority is an ocean view, or might be on sand if you want to be by the beach. All of this means, it will more than likely need renovating and on going maintenance. Don’t forget we are a tropical climate all year long with rain, wind, and sun beating down on the roof and paint. It’s often not until we get the home inspection report that the disappointment is realized and then we’re at a crossroads. Will the seller repair the things that have been deferred? What’s an actual safety or structural concern that the seller really should fix? But in a seller’s market, good luck having them do anything. Ohhh! But I really want this house! Now what? 

First, it takes skillful negotiation on your real estate agent’s part, but sometimes no matter how good they are at negotiating, some sellers simply won’t budge, especially if they accepted your offer before a higher offer came in or if they have a comparable offer in back up position (which they almost always do on Oahu). Very rarely, some sellers are hoping you cancel so they can move on to the next buyer, although that is never encouraged by a real estate agent as it automatically places a stigma on the property. But if there’s a backup offer waiting in the wings, they are more than likely calling the Seller’s Agent daily asking, “How’s your escrow going? Do my buyers still have a chance?” In the case of buying my house, the negotiation was won by me up front. We didn’t pay too much over asking and the terms in our contract were too good to pass up. That also meant there wasn’t much room left for them to fix or credit anything. 

Our home inspection was disappointing revealing foundation settlement, unevenness in the floors, leaks in the roof, and wood rot in the siding and beams. The number one issue: water. No surprise. As a matter of fact, that is the number one issue owning a home in Hawaii with the amount of rain and moisture we have. 

Problem: water.

Solution: divert. 

Sounds pretty simple right? It actually is, as long as you educate yourself, prioritize, set a budget, and find the right team to do the work. Home renovations will always take longer and cost more than you think. It’s not a perfect process. 

If I had a dollar for every burned out buyer trying to buy a turn key, move in ready home who said, “What about a fixer upper? That could be fun,” I could buy myself a nice pair of shoes. My question: fun? In what way exactly? If you think buying a home is stressful, buckle up during renovations.

The goal is not to scare anyone, but rather, to acknowledge the fear. The most courageous and experienced home owners, builders, flippers, and renovators will tell you, “Everything is correctable. No house is perfect. Every house needs maintenance.” When buying a home, your home inspector will likely not find things that you’ll find after living in the home for a few months. He or she is there for half a day. Don’t blame them if something isn’t discovered. It’s also easy to blame the previous owner. Don’t do it. Sometimes they really didn’t know there was wood rot on the siding by the exterior stairs because they never used that entrance. They went through the garage. But they left you with a really nice kitchen! Not everyone’s priorities are the same. 

If you own a house in Hawaii, maintain it. In the very least in Hawaii, keep water and termites away. If you’re buying a house…just buy the house. It’s scary. It’s courageous. You’re going to be ok. Prioritize, set the budget, and let the professionals do their thing. You got this! And when you wake up in the morning to birds singing and chirping, the smell of fresh coffee, and another 72 degree day, you’ll be so glad you did. 

Oahu Housing Inventory Is Low: What It Really Means

Click on Image for Honolulu Board of Realtors Report

Me (realtor): Congratulations on getting pre-approved for $550,000! Tell me your wishlist.

Buyer: We’d like 3 bedrooms (minimum), a 2 car garage, 2 bathrooms or more, a yard, split level, no jalousie windows (we hate those), no popcorn ceilings, preferably ground level, no one above or below us, pet friendly (our sweet boy Bailey is a slobbery 50 lb pit bull mix), and no HOA fees.

Me: (thinking…how do I tell them this just doesn’t exist on Oahu and how many more realtors will they talk to before they believe me and if they do wind up believing me, will they be back or will some other agent have them sign a Buyer’s agreement which they will  because they needed to hear it 3 times to believe it). 

So, yeah. That’s pretty much what it means, but not really. For the buyers who know next to nothing about Oahu real estate, it’s my job to educate and inform them of how little land we have on our beautiful island. When supply and demand are in an inverse relationship, that affects pricing (economics 101). Face masks are currently super cheap because they’re everywhere and no one’s using them anymore (except here in Hawaii…grrr). Oahu real estate is expensive because only 6% of it is fee simple to begin with. Add to that agriculture land, leasehold land that can only be leased to those who are 50% Hawaiian, golf courses, hotels & resorts, commercial space, nature reserves, military land, or land that is simply undevelopable/uninhabitable and you’ve got a supply issue. And don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to get building permits while the state of Hawaii has the highest number of state employees per capita…but I shall pump my brakes and swerve back into my lane. I am a real estate agent. An opinionated, sometimes unapologetic real estate agent who might also be startled awake in the middle of the night by the opinions I’ve shared out loud. Perhaps that will make you, as a client, a little more compelled to work with me as I enthusiastically stand by and communicate what I believe in. 

Inventory is low. Here’s a solid example and hopefully I don’t need to say much more. I have a buyer right now who qualifies for $550,000. They’ve lived here almost all their lives so they understand the scarcity. Their needs:

  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms (but they’ll settle for 1.5 baths. They have 2 boys and mom simply can’t share a bathroom with 3 men anymore)
  • 2 parking stalls – MUST. None of this “But you can find parking on the street.” Yeah. Right.
  • Preferred areas: Kaneohe, Kailua, Salt Lake in Honolulu, might go as far as Aiea, but probably not. 
  • Must be pet friendly. Pets are family! And they’re not willing to lie and say their pets are therapy animals.

In preparation for the weekend, I had my eyes on the MLS all week. It yielded 2 listings. TWO. That’s it. They went to see them. One was a little too small. They loved the other one and were ready to make an offer! The listing agent had 4 offers in hand before the weekend was over and offers were due by Tuesday at noon. She was expecting more and already had offers over the asking price. Prior listings in the building said “pet friendly,” but I verified with resident manager it is not – therapy animals only. Ugh!!!

Inventory is low. Do I need to go on? Okay. Here’s one more example. Economists like to say things like, “There is 1.5 months of remaining inventory.” Translation: if nothing else came on the market today, it would take 1.5 months for everything to sell. Anything less than 6 months is considered a seller’s market. Beyond 6 months shifts to a buyer’s market. 

Inventory is low. 

So what does this mean for you? If you have property to sell, it’s time. How does lack of inventory help you? It’s not only about timing the market and getting the most money for your property. After all, statistics show that real estate on Oahu only goes up over time. So yes, you can wait and probably still make more money in the long run, but as interest rates increase, the amount of buyers willing to jump in now, hard, and aggressively will be less. With inventory so low, you’ll have the choice of cherry picking the buyer who will close fast and easy and with a grateful, cooperative heart. As a buyer, you could wait until the market cools a little and hope prices will come down in this increasing interest rate environment, but the real question is, will you end up paying more anyway? Maybe you won’t have to bid up the price as much to beat out 19 other buyers, but you’ll pay a higher interest rate, higher payment, or will have to settle for less because the interest rate prices you out over the home price itself.

My bottom line will always be this, however: the most important timing is your own. If it’s time for you to let go of a property, do it now. If you want to own a property and you’re in position to do so, do it now. This chick in her mid-40s is finally starting to understand how fast the clock is ticking. Lack of land and inventory has always made Oahu, Hawaii different from other markets like California or Las Vegas. As a buyer, you just have to get in and most only wish they did it sooner and bought more. As a seller, you can’t look back. Real estate on Oahu only goes up, some years more than others, but over time, it just does. 

I write this from a flight over the Pacific back from Seattle in early March. When the pilot announced after take off that the weather is 80 degrees in Honolulu with northeast tradewinds at 15 mph, how do you think most people on this fully packed (fully masked) flight reacted? People love Hawaii. Politics aside, there is much to love about it. Demand is high. It always has been. It always will be. And I suppose that while I’m obviously mad we’re still wearing masks while the rest of the country is not, I’d rather wear a mask living in Hawaii than no mask somewhere else and clearly I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

Inventory is low. 

What’s Going On in Oahu Real Estate in 2022?

Welcome to 2020 too. You almost can’t unsee that. Sorry. Rewind! 


2020 and 2021 created so much shift – in money, in business, in lifestyle, in mindset. 2022 seems to be the year we’ll actually plant ourselves in those shifts. For me, personally, I’m realizing I’m turning 40 freaking five! When the heck did that happen? I swear I’ll be 37 forever, but only if my metabolism and hair color would agree. Darn you JLo for raising that bar so freaking high and for having way more money than the rest of us to make a perpetual 37 years old a reality.

Who am I? Why am I here? I’m Maila Gibson-Bandmann (pronounced My-La not Mali-a). Much like “2020 too,” some of you all refuse to unsee and unsay Mali-a. I was a singer for the first 20 years of my adult life doing a little bit of real estate. Now that I’m in the next 20 years of my adult life, I’m a realtor on Oahu who does a little bit of singing. I wasn’t blessed with children, but I am crazy about my fur kids and I’M FORTY FREAKING FIVE!!! I might be in a midlife crisis. I’m not leaving my husband for a younger man or anything like that. I love him to life. My midlife crisis is more along the lines of realizing my generation needs a voice. I hope to be one of them who speaks truth, finds community, and as a bonus, if I get to help you with your real estate in Hawaii…YAY!

What happened in real estate on Oahu in 2021? The same thing the rest of the United States experienced: historically low inventory, historically low interest rates, tons of buyers, not enough homes to sell, people working from home therefore abandoning their condos in the city and moving further away and into the homes of their dreams. The media likes to tell it this way: “Home prices escalated to unaffordable levels due to wealthy mainland buyers buying every single house for sale and pushing locals to the streets or Las Vegas.” Here’s the truth and you can look it up in public records. The number one buyers of real estate in Hawaii were Hawaii residents. Where did the rest of them come from? Second place goes to California buyers with less than a thousand purchases on Oahu out of 15,741 homes sold. They accounted for only 6% of all home sales on Oahu. Next was Japan and then Washington for less than 400 sales combined. What makes California buyers love Hawaii so much? Other than similar lifestyles and a salad bowl of cultures, our property taxes are the lowest in the country. For every $1000 of assessed value, it’s only $3.50. On a home assessed at $1 million, that’s only $3500 per year. Cost of living in Hawaii is expensive (let’s not beat that dead horse), but property taxes are low. Now there’s a win!

So if Hawaii residents really bought all this property, how did they afford it? Low interest rates coupled with appreciation. Interest rates were in the 2’s and 3’s all year. Many sold and bought something else or they refinanced and cashed out. Single family homes ended around a median price of $1M. Condos ended up around $500K. Condo sales surged as new construction in Kakaako (such as ‘A’ali’i) became available. 

What’s going on in 2022? Is the market going to crash? Probably not, but I’m not psychic. We still have a supply problem. We just don’t have enough homes. Interest rates have shot up into the 4’s, but that’s still low! If you’re a child of the 80’s, you’ll remember that interest rates hit 18%. However, interest rates follow the rule of 10x. For every 1% increase, you can expect a 10% decrease in borrowing power or a 10% increase in your monthly mortgage payment. That’s huge. For example, if you take out a mortgage for 1 million dollars, you can expect a monthly payment to be somewhere around $5000 at today’s rates. If the interest rate goes up a point, that payment for the same amount is now $5500. Or, if you need to stay at a $5000 payment, now your purchasing power is only $900,000. The difference between a $900,000 home and a million dollar home is vast. Will this affect the market? Of course. Perhaps we’ll see less buyers competing for homes and less bidding up the price like we saw in 2021. Will there be a crash? Probably not. Prices may not even drop. They just won’t increase as much or as quickly and quite frankly, I’m ready for a more balanced market. Presenting 23 offers on a single family home is a lot of work and rejecting 22 broken hearts shatters my heart too. 

It’s important to talk about legislation. Bill 41 is a big one. It seeks to extend the minimum time for short term rentals (AirBnB, VRBO, etc) from 30 days to 180 days! The government is hoping this will solve our housing shortage crisis. It won’t. Most short term rentals are studios or 1 bedroom condos in Waikiki with no parking or luxury homes along Lanikai Beach that cost $3M or more. Bill 7 is an important one too. It allows for 3-4 times the number of units allowed on the same lot size. Think: all those old houses in urban Honolulu next to 3 story walk up apartments on teeny lots. Those are the ones this bill targets and developers are foaming at the mouth for these little nuggets. The caveat, however, is that they are to be priced at affordable rents. What we really need are more homes like Ho’opili and Koa Ridge, but where are we gonna get the land? This is why Hawaii has and always will be expensive. Land is precious and no one’s making more of it. 

What should you do in 2022? Owning a principal residence is a long game. Timing the market shouldn’t be your goal as a buyer. Buy when the time is right for you. If you’re an investor, that’s a different story. If you’re a seller, your timing is also most important, but with our housing crisis, you’ll almost never go wrong selling in Hawaii. And watch when Japan opens up again for travel. They’ll be back and they looooove Hawaii real estate. 

2022…I’m here for you. I like that much better than 2020 too. 

Oahu Single Family Home Inventory is Plummeting

I’ve had several people contact me recently saying, “I hear Oahu home sales are down! Are prices dropping? Find me a deal!” Headlines are tricky aren’t they? Click bait is all the rage. So sorry, but this is NOT what this means in the slightest. The state of the Oahu housing market is right in line with what’s going on all over the United States – low supply, high demand. For those who took an economics class in high school or college, what’s the one thing you remember? When supply is low and demand is high, prices only go up.

Are we in a bubble? Many sitting on the sidelines are doing the Dr. Evil pinky in the corner of the mouth with the snicker just waiting for prices to come crashing down. I can’t say I know for sure and I tread lightly with my answer to this question, but I had an epiphany yesterday while talking to my husband. We recalled the last crash of 2008 and discussed why that happened. Money was incredibly easy to borrow. Anyone could buy a home with little to no money down and stated income loans were kryptonite. You could basically say you make $10,000 a month with no documentation to prove it and the bank would say, “Booya! Go buy a house.” People were buying property like crazy and prices went up, up, up. Sounds similar to what we’re experiencing now, right? Yes and no. The difference now is supply is so low, buyers are having to compete to win. Who are the winners? Those with the most cash. So, whether you’re paying all cash or financing, even those who are financing are putting a significant amount of money down therefore, allowing for built in equity as soon as they get their keys. In 2008, many did 100% financing at inflated prices. They were so upside down on their homes, it was easy to walk away and let the bank foreclose.

Most people aren’t gonna walk away from a home with equity. Also, those who have stayed in the homes they purchased in 2008 have experienced an incredible run in the market. Maybe their homes are paid off? Maybe they’ve refinanced to 2.75% and have very affordable monthly mortgage payments. So, for those of you wishing, waiting, and snickering for deals in the near future, my hyper positive Pollyanna logic says you might be waiting for a while. And while there may be deals in the future, who’s to say that a deal 5 years from now wasn’t today’s highest price?

I’m not psychic and I can’t see into the future. I may wind of eating a big bowl of these very words. I don’t want to see a crash not just for my interests as a real estate agent, but for families, couples, people who are living the dream of owning real estate. But history is one of our best teachers and one thing’s been true for decades: real estate is cyclical. This market will shift. How and how much? We’ll see.

See Locations Article Here

What Are YOU Doing Here?

140 Niuiki Circle is located at Niu Peninsula in East Honolulu. It’s my first multi-million dollar listing and the property is unreal. Every agent desires luxury listings. Typically, it’s why we drive the luxury cars and carry the luxury purse. If we didn’t grow up with this lifestyle, we figure out how to belong until we do. We make it our own so we can sell it to another with ease. That’s how I like to roll, anyway.

A couple of years into my real estate career, I realized I had to trade in my Prius and get a more “realtor like car”. It’s not just a status symbol, but I needed something I could comfortably drive clients around in, would feel comfortable showing up to a listing appointment in, and one that would be safe and functional for the long drives all over the island. And whatever…I love my Lexus. Plus, I ran an IG poll to see if it matters what kind of a car a realtor drives and at least 75% of people admitted that it does. Gotta love the anonymous honesty.

The moment arrived. I got the biggest listing of my life and prepped it to hit the market. I had lunch with another realtor just 3 weeks earlier and I did the one thing I think we all do at some point in our lives: I side swiped the wall in a parking garage. My poor car, but worse, my poor spirit. Suddenly, pre-teen Maila who moved between states having to make new friends creeped up saying, “You don’t belong here. You don’t deserve nice things. You’re not good enough and even your car knows it.”

The listing wasn’t the defining moment. THIS was the defining moment. It was an opportunity to get the ding out my head and to get over the ding in my car. Here’s what I concluded: it’s not the car you drive or the bag you carry or the watch you wear. It’s the feeling. It’s understanding what others feel. It’s finding some sort of connection to convey to the next buyer so they appreciate what they are buying. It’s not bricks and sticks. It’s finding and selling the feeling and it’s constantly selling yourself on how awesome you are too.

What Does $2.8 Million Get You In Hawaii?

It depends where in Hawaii, but a house on the beach? You can pretty much count on it being at least $2 million or more just for the land itself. This one got multiple offers in under a week. Check back to see what price it closes at in a couple of months. For now, go on a virtual tour below:

Virtual Tour

Who Owns The Beach in Hawaii?

It’s an emotionally charged subject in Hawaii, both for ocean lovers (surfers, fisherman, and people who just plain love the beach) and those who own beach front homes. Good news for beach lovers: NOBODY gets to own the beach in Hawaii. There are NO private beaches. Bad news is, if your only way of getting to it by land is to cross someone else’s property, forget it trespasser. You can certainly boat in, swim, standup paddle, or walk from a public access point, but not if you wind up on vegetation. Step on anything green and again, you will get nabbed for trespassing and believe me, ocean front homeowners are incredibly territorial. Look for hidden cameras in the trees. They are watching and often times, they are totally unafraid to be confrontational. These are not the type of people who will passively call the cops. They will get in your face and ruin your day. They own luxury homes and a whole lot of other stuff. Even though the law tells them they don’t own the beach, they still think they do.

What does the law officially have to say about this? By definition, Hawaii Supreme Court law states the following: “any land below the highest wave line is considered state property and open to the public.” Here’s where it got tricky in the past, however – property owners were watering the vegetation and fertilizing it so it would grow further giving them more manipulated ownership of the beach. DLNR wised up to this and made it a misdemeanor if they catch you manipulating your boundary line. (Nice try people). You can read more about this below:

So how do you access the beach without facing off with a property owner in places like Kailua, Portlock, Diamond Head, Paiko, and Niu Peninsula? Like I said above, you either access by sea or use a public access right of way, but this still won’t guarantee you won’t get the, “What are YOU doing here” attitude. A wise person actually pinned these access points on Google. Notice how Waimanalo has a TON of access points. Paiko all the way through Niu Beach and Aina Haina has just one.

Speaking of Niu Peninsula, it seems they found a major loophole around this. Niu Peninsula is an incredibly charming street of less than 50 houses, but you wanna talk territorial? Ohhhh boy. Perhaps it’s all in love because they love their beloved little nook, but let’s have a moment of silence and remember what was once a Native Hawaiian Fish Pond given to Alexander Adams by King Kamehameha I.

Who’s to say whether or not the king knew what Alex’s intent was, but brother man filled that fishpond in, built homes, and blocked the beach. Then, an association was formed and gates were put up where the beach access is. Even smarter, the Niu Peninsula Association owns those little parcels of beach access. So, if you don’t belong to the association and you happen to have a code to the gate or wander through it somehow, count on getting tattled on, yelled at, made to feel very small, and kicked out in no time. One could argue the enforcement is needed due to pollution, homelessness, and overcrowding while others could argue that such a special place should be shared and enjoyed by all.

This post comes on the heels of an emotional day at my listing on Niuiki Circle. It has beach frontage. It’s in original 1950s condition, but I could feel the mana (Hawaiian for spiritual energy, power, and strength) standing on that lawn. As curious neighbors tracked in and out giving their strong willed opinions about the home, I quieted their noise with visions of that fishpond and thought of Bruce Lee saying, “Be like water.” Check out the listing here:

140 Niuiki Circle, 3 Bedrooms/2.5 Baths, $2,800,000

Safe Travel To Honolulu: A Simple Guide To Testing, Masks, and Quarantine

It’s been a year since the COVID-19 virus locked our worlds down. Now, the vaccine has made its way into the veins of many, cases are down, restaurants and bars are opening again, daylight savings time is in effect, and people want to travel. Traveling between states on the US Mainland is pretty much same ole, same ole plus mask wearing. Getting to Honolulu is a different story and navigating the government websites is same ole, same ole. It’s just as difficult as trying to pay your car registration, get married, and do I dare say – file for unemployment. (Insert the teeth bearing emoji here). After having just done it and as I prepare for my second trip to the mainland in under a month, I thought I’d break it down for you since it’s fresh in my mind. Hopefully it saves you a little time and frustration.

First, let’s talk about what’s different on the airplane. It’s standard across all airports and all airlines that masks are required. Alaska Airlines didn’t serve any food except for a cheese plate that you must order ahead of time. Otherwise, you’re not eating for the duration of the flight. The redeye between Honolulu and Seattle consisted of only 1 beverage service. My second flight between Seattle and Kansas City, MO was a morning flight and they served coffee and Biscoff cookies (my fave!). My mom and I sipped our coffees and talked story like two friends who hadn’t seen each other all year and then, the flight attendant came on the PA saying, “Ladies and gentleman, we’d like to remind you that as you enjoy your coffee, take a sip, put your mask back on. Take a sip, put your mask back on. Let’s protect each other.” Well shucks. So much for coffee talk. I later heard Hawaiian Airlines allows masks off during active eating and drinking. A friend of mine said, “Well, I guess I’ll just eat the whole flight.” Then again, Hawaii local people are known to fill our bags with snacks and do that anyway, so no change there. I will say this, I thought I was gonna hate wearing a mask on the plane, but I actually felt very comfortable. Wanna know why? I’m an open mouth sleeper. That redeye with a mask was the most restful overnight flight ever! My eyes shut, my head went back, and my mouth went open. I didn’t worry for a second that I might be breathing fire in the face of the person next to me. Also, my lips didn’t get chapped from breathing that cold, dry air and it kept my face warm. One other thing I quite enjoyed about COVID airplane travel: I paid $99 to upgrade my seat to premium class on Alaska Airlines. Not only do you get free drinks and extra legroom, but the middle seat is left open for extra social distancing. I don’t think they’re gonna do this forever, but I wish they would.

What’s a favorite mask for travel and otherwise? This one: Athleta Cloth Mask.

Let’s talk quarantine. I’m not incredibly well versed in this subject, but it’s my understanding that if you don’t get your negative test result prior to the departure of your last leg of travel, you must quarantine for 10 days. If you receive your negative test in the air or even a couple of days later, you don’t get to shave off those days. No test, no negative result, no go anywhere. Period.

Finally, let’s talk travel testing. If you Google “Hawaii travel testing” it will get you nowhere. God forbid you land on the State of Hawaii site which you have to dig through to finally get to the Safe Travels portal. I present to you, the magic link below. You’re welcome.

Click on the image to take you to the Safe Travels Portal

A few tips for you.

  1. Create your profile in advance. I did it from my phone and later found it to be much easier from a desktop for my husband. At the same time, you will use your phone to generate a QR code before boarding your flight to Honolulu, so pick whatever’s easiest. It will require you to create a password, so make sure you remember it.
  2. You’ll need your driver’s license, passport, or whatever official ID you use to travel as it will require you to input the ID number.
  3. Make sure your name is the same spelling and punctuation as what’s on your airline reservation.
  4. Wives, we do these things for our family, but it really is best that each person does it themself especially because they’ll be required to generate their own QR code on their own mobile device. C’mon hubbies. You got this!
  5. Enter your trip information in the TRIPS section. You’ll need all the departure and arrival information (flight number, time, airline, etc).
  6. Travel Testing: this gets tricky and once again, the information is tough to find. Below is a list of US Mainland approved providers. I used Walgreens on my way back from Missouri. The process is, you locate a provider in your area via the web. When you get to their site, you scroll until you find something that references COVID-19 testing. Walgreens requires an online registration. Again, make sure your name is the same as what’s on your travel registration.
    • American Family Care (AFC)+
    • American Samoa Department of Health+
    • Atlas Genomics+
    • Capstone Clinic+
    • Carbon Health
    • CityHealth Urgent Care
    • Clarity Lab Solutions+
    • CLEAR (ONLY Delta DL 480 and United UA 1158 flights from LAX)
    • Color
    • Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation+
    • Costco/AZOVA+
    • CVS Health (ONLY www.cvs.com/selfpaytesting, not a different CVS website or walk-in)
    • Discovery Health MD
    • DLS Guam
    • Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services
    • GoHealth Urgent Care*+
    • Kaiser Permanente (members only)University Medical Center of Southern Nevada+
    • UC San Diego Health
    • University of Washington Medicine+
    • Vault Health
    • Walgreens
    • WestPac Labs+
    • XpresCheck+
  7. Make an appointment for your pre-travel test 72 hours prior to the departure time of your last leg of travel to Honolulu. I left Missouri on Saturday afternoon. I tested on Friday morning at 9am. This was a little stressful as I didn’t get the results until I landed in Seattle. They’re supposed to get the results to you within 24 hours (if you choose that particular test, but it took a little over 24 hours). Also, test appointments aren’t the easiest to get. I recommend getting on it as soon as you get to your destination.
  8. The test: it’s easy. They give you the swab. You stick it in your nose and swirl it around for 15 seconds, place it in the vial (cotton side down), and return it to the pharmacy tech in the prescribed package. It was also free which I haven’t quite figured out why. I think it’s because I designated who my insurance provider is, but they didn’t ask me for my medical card so….I don’t know. Sorry.
  9. Then…you wait and you wonder if you have the virus, and then you pray you don’t have it, and you pray the results get to you in time. So much stress! Breathe.
  10. HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE: You need to complete this 24 hours prior to departure. This is where that QR code is generated which you will share with the airline personnel.
  11. Results: they’re delivered via email and you’ll get a text alert that your results are in. Hallelujah! Download the results and upload to DOCUMENTS. It’s surprisingly very easy. The QR code links to your profile and the airline personnel will be able to access your results. You can, however, show the actual test results as well.
  12. The following airports offer the Pre-Clear Program at the gate. This allows you to show the QR code and get a wrist band which gets you past the yelling Honolulu personnel upon arrival (sorry, but it’s true. I wish our Honolulu airport people were nicer). If you don’t have the wrist band, apparently there’s a line you have to stand in to get cleared to leave the airport.
    • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – Available starting April 22
    • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
    • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) 
    • Long Beach Airport (LGB)
    • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) 
    • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
    • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
    • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
    • Ontario International Airport (ONT)
    • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
    • Phoenix International Airport (PHX)
    • Portland International Airport (PDX)
    • Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
    • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
    • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  13. Once you land in Honolulu, show your wrist band and you’re on your way! Honolulu takes COVID-19 very seriously, so be ready to wear your masks, wash your hands, and watch your distance, but you can have coffee talk. No need to sip and put your mask back on. Safe travels and aloha!