Island Hop to Oahu During COVID-19


Take an island hop adventure with us as we show you a gorgeous botanical garden, the best and bluest beaches on Oahu AND what Waikiki looks like during COVID-19. We traveled to Oahu the first weekend that the inter-island travel restrictions were lifted and got a unique opportunity to be in Waikiki with only locals, and the water and beaches were pristine and uncrowded. We got a parking space in 10 minutes in Lanikai Beach where, as you will see in the video, we were on the beach with only a few dozen people. Yes, people were wearing masks around Honolulu and Waikiki and we had to wait for over an hour at Duke’s to be served due to the social distancing of the tables inside the restaurant

Point to note: The city is closing the main street of Waikiki on Sunday’s from 6 am-12 pm so people can run, bike, skateboard, and walk without vehicle traffic! Makes for another “only during COVID experience. You can rent bikes from the GoBiki program right there in Waikiki!

If you go this summer, many of the hotels are closed and many of the shops and other restaurants are not open or you have to wait outside in a line to get in. Welcome to the pandemic in Oahu.

Enjoy some beautiful drone shots and join in a few minutes of Oahu island hopping in our video!

Here are some of the places we visited that you will see in our video!

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden -If you love peaceful, shockingly beautiful, and a photographers dream:…

Lanikai Beach Park: Go early to find parking, bring an umbrella, a camera and just sit in awe.…

Lanikai Pillbox Hike: If you want awesome views AND a hike, this is epic.…

Makup’uu Lookout: Great view of the turquoise ocean, sea cliffs and Oahu’s southeastern shoreline. You will see the drone work from here, but just stand there and take it all in! (Personally? One of the most jaw droppingly beautiful look outs I have ever seen)

We got out early to Waikiki Beach on Sunday morning and we walked almost a quarter mile out on the sand bar. Something you don’t get to do on Hawaii Island! The water was so warm and super blue against that white sand. Looking back onto Waikiki, the hotels and skyscrapers made a beautiful city scape, but compared to the Big Island..well, we live here for a reason. The buildings can’t be taller than a palm tree! My daughter enjoyed getting out to do some of her Instagram model shots. (I jump in with the ideas for a great photo, like this one at the Makupu’u lookout as the 55 year old version!)

As for COVID-19, we waited to get into Duke’s for almost an hour for dinner and waited over 45 minutes to get our food. Our server was great and gave us a free Hula Pie. We came back for breakfast the next day, as all the ocean front hotels besides the Outrigger were closed, and waiting almost 3 hours from waiting to get a table to getting our food. It was the first weekend they had been open since the shut down and the kitchen was overwhelmed.

I wonder what will happen when our visitors come flooding back into restaurants in West Hawaii that have to practice social distancing with a shoe string staff? Since everyone was local, there was no hissy fits, or people yelling to get a manager out to the table or people stomping out. We all sat there and just drank coffee and were damn happy to be in Waikiki getting anything. COVID has given us a whole new appreciation for sit down restaurants, right? (He gave us another Hula ice-cream pie for our patience.)

We flew back into Kona with a lighter feeling as we pulled onto our easy 4 lane roadways, our wide open spaces and our island with no COVID-19 cases. We are good.


Learn more about Kailua Kona and West Hawaii at

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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at and and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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