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Unforgettable Oahu: Discovering the Best Neighborhoods for Vacation Rentals

If you’re planning a trip to Oahu, Hawaii, finding the perfect vacation rental is essential to ensuring a memorable and enjoyable stay. With its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and breathtaking scenery, Oahu has become a popular destination for travelers from around the world. In this article, we will explore some of the best neighborhoods on the island that offer exceptional vacation rentals.

Waikiki: The Heart of Oahu

When it comes to vacation rentals in Oahu, Waikiki is often at the top of the list. This iconic neighborhood is located on the south shore of the island and is famous for its beautiful beaches, high-rise hotels, and bustling nightlife. Whether you’re looking for a luxury condo with ocean views or a cozy beachfront cottage, Waikiki has it all.

One of the advantages of staying in Waikiki is its central location. From here, you can easily explore other parts of Oahu such as Diamond Head State Monument or Pearl Harbor. In addition to its convenient location, Waikiki offers an array of dining options, shopping centers, and entertainment venues.

North Shore: A Surfer’s Paradise

If you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, North Shore might be your ideal neighborhood for vacation rentals in Oahu. Known for its world-class surf breaks and relaxed vibe, North Shore attracts surfers from all over the globe.

Vacation rentals in North Shore range from quaint beach cottages to spacious villas with private pools. Staying here allows you to immerse yourself in the local surf culture and witness some incredible wave riding during winter months when massive swells hit the coastline.

Apart from surfing, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in North Shore such as hiking through lush rainforests or exploring charming towns like Haleiwa, known for its art galleries, boutiques, and food trucks serving delicious local cuisine.

Kailua: A Hidden Gem

Located on the windward side of Oahu, Kailua is a hidden gem that offers a more tranquil and secluded vacation experience. With its pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, Kailua has often been voted as one of the best beaches in the world.

Kailua vacation rentals range from cozy beachfront cottages to spacious homes with private yards and pools. Staying in this neighborhood allows you to enjoy a slower pace of life while still being within easy reach of attractions like the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail or the scenic Lanikai Beach.

In addition to its natural beauty, Kailua also boasts an array of charming local shops, restaurants, and cafes. Renting a bike and exploring the area at your own pace is highly recommended.

Honolulu: The Urban Oasis

For those seeking a mix of city life and beachfront living, Honolulu offers an ideal blend of both worlds. As the capital city of Hawaii, Honolulu is home to numerous vacation rentals that cater to various budgets and preferences.

From luxurious high-rise condos with panoramic ocean views to cozy apartments tucked away in residential neighborhoods, there’s something for everyone in Honolulu. With its vibrant arts scene, world-class shopping centers like Ala Moana Center, and diverse dining options ranging from food trucks to fine dining establishments – Honolulu truly has it all.

Additionally, staying in Honolulu allows you to explore popular attractions such as Iolani Palace or hike up to the top of Diamond Head Crater for breathtaking views of Waikiki Beach.

In conclusion, Oahu offers a wide range of neighborhoods that provide unforgettable vacation rental experiences. Whether you prefer the lively atmosphere of Waikiki or seek serenity on North Shore or Kailua’s pristine beaches – there’s no shortage of options to choose from. Whichever neighborhood you decide on, one thing is for sure – Oahu’s natural beauty and warm hospitality will make your stay truly memorable.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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Travel | travel: is hawaii welcoming tourists after the maui fire.

oahu travel maui fire

Even those who don’t speak a word of Hawaiian can usually figure out when aloha means hello or goodbye. But since Aug. 8, when Maui experienced the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history, mixed messages are causing mainlanders to wonder if the welcome mat is truly waiting for them halfway across the Pacific.

To come or not to come? That is the question.

One faction of Hawaii residents is telling visitors to stay away so that more resources are available to those recovering from the loss of loved ones and property. Another camp is pleading for tourists to bring much-needed revenue, especially after what is now a one-two punch between the travel-restricting pandemic that lasted roughly two years and the wildfire that only a few months ago ravaged Maui and decimated historic Lahaina Town.

Considerate of both these viewpoints is Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Henry Kapono, who in between hard-ticket concerts plays Duke’s at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort on Sundays.

“Mixed messages are out there,” said the 75-year-old Oahu-born fixture. “The locals in West Maui are especially feeling the hurt of what happened and trying to heal at the same time. As they support themselves, their friends and community, the hope is that they can see the bigger picture of tourism being a key part of that support.”

Because of the devastating fires, Kapono’s Maui gig on his current 50-year anniversary tour has been postponed three months to December. In between, however, he organized a benefit concert in Maui that raised $200,000 for victims.

“It’s really sad about Lahaina,” said one half of the legendary, long-disbanded Hawaiian pop duo Cecilio & Kapono. “I have so many memories of working places that burned to the ground. It will take a while, but we know that Lahaina will come back in some shape or form. Until it does, Maui has other places to enjoy paradise, and people are welcome to have fun on the other islands as well. That’s what Hawaii is all about.”

Maui hosts about a quarter of all visitors to Hawaii, and although much of “The Valley Isle” is fully operational now three months after the catastrophic fires, Oahu, where nearly half of the state’s tourists flock to, seems to be welcoming island-bound travelers with the widest open arms — slathered with sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, of course.

The Outrigger Reef's signature pineapple crème brulée. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Living up to its nickname of “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is seeing visitorship nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. Vacation-hungry Americans are being wooed by the tropical beauty and weather, world-class resorts and restaurants, and walkability of Waikiki — all accessible without a passport and, for many, a non-stop flight to Honolulu.

Also nonstop is Oahu’s vast array of unique experiences and attractions. With an eye out for what’s new, improved and special, let’s explore this eclectic and exciting island by land, sea and air.

On the ground

Japanese tourists have a blast ATVing on the North Shore. (Photo by David Dickstein)

If you’re born to be wild, then get your motor running and head out for an adrenaline junkie’s kind of off-road adventure. New to Oahu is a 2 1/2-hour Pua Pua‘a Piglet ATV Adventure from North Shore EcoTours ( northshoreecotours.com ), and it packs a Hawaiian punch. Climbing, crawling and sloshing through rocky and often muddy trails in a rugged 4×4 ATV, with no more than three of these six-seaters on the tour, adds to the thrill of plowing through jungle and farm land while being caked in brick-red volcanic dirt that takes a couple of hot showers and loads of laundry to get off your skin and clothes. North Shore EcoTours also offers hikes and rides on electric, solo-rider Mongoose ATVs. Along the way a guide points out interesting landmarks and vegetation ripe for selfies. The Pau Pua‘a tour runs about $300 for two people — a bargain compared to ATV adventures around the world that are half as exhilarating.

Ko Olina Golf Club is a premier course in west Oahu. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Driving on a much different type of course is achieved at the official golf club of the Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina, Disney’s Aulani Resort and other tony properties on Oahu’s west side. Rated one of Golf Digest’s “Top 75 Resort Courses in the U.S.,” Ko Olina Golf Club ( koolinagolf.com ), where LPGA star Michelle Wie developed her game, is gorgeous and challenging, yet comfortable for the golfer who may feel unworthy or intimidated playing courses used for pro tours. The grounds also have an above-par pro shop and a Roy’s Hawaiian fusion restaurant. Greens fees are very fair for a facility of this caliber — about $250, less if staying at a partner resort.

Hawaiian history comes alive at the Royal Hawaiian luau. (Photo by David Dickstein)

OK, so the most touristy thing one can do in Hawaii is go to a luau. They’re expensive, hokey and cookie-cutter, but not doing one, especially on a first visit, is almost sacrilegious. So, props to the ‘Ahaaina Luau ( royal-hawaiianluau.com ) at the gorgeous Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach for being different. Oh, it’s pricey, all right, costing $225 or $250, depending on how close you want to sit, but hokey and cookie-cutter it’s not. The show, held on Mondays and Thursdays, follows a three-course dinner that fuses Hawaiian, Korean and Japanese flavors. Told through story, song and dance, the history of Hawaii includes the colorful past of the hallowed grounds upon which the luau’s guests are gathered. Sure, it’s a commercial for the Royal Hawaiian, but it works, and how special for those actually staying at the near-century-old resort.

On the subject of entertainment, opening night isn’t for another year, but we mention Cirque de Soleil’s next permanent show because it’s bound to make a great property in the heart of Waikiki even better. The Outrigger Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel is where an 800-seat theater that’s been dormant since the pandemic is being renovated for a production that will blend Hawaiian culture with Cirque’s signature avant-garde sights and sounds. The show’s name hasn’t been announced yet, but the hospitality company behind it has made a name for itself as ambassadors of the aloha spirit.

The newly renovated Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Hotel. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Corny as this may sound, Outrigger’s respect for local culture isn’t just a checkbox. It’s laid in the flooring of the flagship Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Hotel, where Hawaiian words are learned while strolling the lobby area. It’s baked in the locally made pono pie at Duke’s inside the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, home of the to-die-for dessert somehow free of gluten, sugar and dairy. And it’s woven in the island-crafted robes hanging in the closet of each unit at the Beachcomber … but they’ll charge you if stolen. The aloha spirit does have its limits.

oahu travel maui fire

The cultural center at the newly renovated Reef property is a benchmark among all island resorts, as is the hotel’s Kani Ka Pila Grille for live Hawaiian music. Paradise is chowing down on kalua pork nachos and pineapple crème brulée washed down with your favorite umbrella drink while enjoying home-grown contemporary artists every night in a casual outdoor venue, and with no admission charge. Indeed, the spirit of aloha is alive and well while eating, drinking or relaxing at an Outrigger ( outrigger.com ) property. If you want to add “sleeping” to the list, rates at Outrigger’s top Oahu hotels begin at around $400 a night, which is low for three-diamond AAA-rated hotels in Waikiki that behave more like those with four diamonds.

Four Seasons' lead bartender Michael Milligan leads a mixology masterclass. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Recommending a genuine four-diamond property, on the west side of the island is the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina ( fourseasons.com ). New there is the Noe Mixology Masterclass ($75), a one-hour lesson starring gin, bourbon, rum, mescal, tequila and, on many days, Michael Milligan, formerly from Costa Mesa and now the Four Seasons’ lead bartender who made this guzzling guest the best espresso martini of his life. More hands-on expertise is found at the resort’s elegant Naupaka Spa. Try the 50-minute Signature Lomilomi Massage ($225) and you won’t be either sore or sorry.

Honolulu’s Waikiki area has grown as a foodie destination since the pandemic, and two of the more exciting newcomers are La Bettola Waikiki at the ‘Alohilani Resort ( alohilaniresort.com ) and Redfish at the Wayfinder Waikiki ( wayfinderhotels.com ). La Bettola, opened in June, features authentic Italian fare married with local ingredients under the guise of renowned chef Tsutomu Ochiai. His neighbor at the Alohilani is “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto’s Momosan, home of perhaps the best ramen and sushi on Oahu.

The signature dishes at Redfish are the poke bowls, but it’s hard to beat the honey walnut shrimp. Opened in May, Redfish augments a boutique hotel with a cool and kitschy vibe that’s only outdone by its ‘60s-feel sister property, the White Sands Hotel, a few blocks away. Best of Waikiki’s chain restaurants: Hula Grill at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, Tommy Bahama Restaurant on Beachwalk Drive and Monkeypod Kitchen at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Hotel.

Since you’re probably already spending thousands on a Hawaiian vacation, what’s another $400 to guarantee an even more memorable trip? That’s how much it is, per person, to see Oahu at rainbow level. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters ( bluehawaiian.com ) has a 65-minute Complete Island Tour from Honolulu that includes the biggies: Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial, Diamond Head, the surfing mecca of North Shore and Oahu’s tallest waterfall.

On the water

A couple shares a romantic moment on the Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Cruise. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Sailing tours are among the more popular things to do while in Hawaii, and if you’re hoping to set a course for more romance than adventure, climb aboard the 150-foot, three-deck Majestic for a crowd-escaping Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Cruise ( majestichawaii.com ). Operated by Atlantis, which will be happy to take you under the water as well in one of its submarines, the cruise ($79 for adults, $39.50 for children) parallels the Waikiki coast for stunning views that culminate at sunset when the orange sun sinks behind the Hawaiian horizon. Majestic is the only cruise around with a full-service bar and lounge that offers open seating.

Tourists watch a sunset from world-famous Waikiki. (Photo by David Dickstein)

All this is just a drop in the warm and inviting ocean. For more on Oahu, visit gohawaii.com/islands/oahu .

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Traveling to Hawaii? Here's what to know about the Maui fires.

By Megan Cerullo

Updated on: August 15, 2023 / 2:53 PM EDT / MoneyWatch

Hawaii is a noted tourist destination, but after deadly wildfires wreaked havoc on Maui and other islands, it declared a state of emergency in all counties. Hawaiian officials are discouraging nonessential travel to Maui amidst the fire's destruction on that island.

Major airlines are assisting in efforts to evacuate residents and visitors from danger zones. People with trips planned to the second-largest Hawaiian island are being asked to postpone them, with airlines and accommodation providers offering travelers flexibility to rebook. 

Here's what to know if you have a vacation in Hawaii scheduled. 

What parts of Hawaii are experiencing fires?

A major blaze largely destroyed  the historic town of Lahaina, on Maui. As of Sunday officials said the Lahaina fire was 85% contained.

Fires also affected Kihei and Upcountry Maui, as well as the northwest part of the island of Hawaii, between Hapuna and Kawaihae.

Can I still go to Maui?

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is strongly discouraging nonessential travel to West Maui for the foreseeable future. Even tourists who are already there are encouraged to depart immediately, if they can. 

Thousands of residents have evacuated their homes and major roadways on the island remain closed. 

"Vacation travel to West Maui is strongly discouraged for the near future. Visitors in West Maui have largely heeded the call to leave the island. About 46,000 people have flown out of Kahului Airport since Wednesday," the Hawaii Tourism Authority said in a statement Saturday. 

On Monday, the travel authority reiterated that all non-essential travel to West Maui remains discouraged through the end of August, in line with Gov. Josh Green's latest  emergency proclamation .

Visitors with plans to visit other parts of Maui are urged to reach out to their accommodation providers to ensure they can still be hosted.

Concerns over drop in tourism

Some hosts on parts of the island that remain able to welcome tourists are concerned that guest cancellations could hamper the island's recovery from the wildfires. 

A small business owner with a condo in Kihei, on Maui's southwest shore, said that while it's safe to visit, guests have been canceling reservations into the month of November.

The host, Chandrika McLaughlin, added that it's important that tourists continue patronizing businesses like hers so that she and others retain the means to support Mauians whose lives have been uprooted by the wildfires. 

To be sure, would-be visitors to West Maui are still being asked to postpone their trips in part because federal, state and county governments are primarily focused on helping displaced residents and affected businesses. 

"Visitors with plans to stay in West Maui in the coming weeks and months are urged to consider rescheduling their travel plans for a later time when the overall situation has improved for area residents," the Tourism Authority said. 

Travel to the island of Hawaii remains unaffected, and the government said it remains safe to visit other islands.

Are commercial airlines flying to Maui?

Some are and some aren't. Many airlines are offering travel waivers that allow customers with immediate plans to travel to Maui to rebook their flights without fees, or to cancel them altogether for credit or, in some cases, a full refund. 

"With the exception of basic economy tickets, almost all U.S. airlines allow you flexibility to either reschedule your trip or cancel and get the full amount you paid back for travel credit for future trips," Scott Keyes, of travel site Going told CBS MoneyWatch. "So, you automatically have a lot of flexibility to change your plans or save flight credit for a future trip. That was not really the case pre-pandemic."

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a travel alert describing how major airlines serving Maui's Kahului Airport have adjusted their operations and implemented flexible change policies for customers.


United Airlines said it's prioritizing the welfare of its employees on Maui and has scrapped commercial flights to the island. It is instead using empty passenger planes to carry Maui residents off the island.

"We've canceled today's inbound flights to Kahului Airport so our planes can fly empty to Maui and be used as passenger flights back to the mainland," the airline said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.

The airline also has  waivers  in place for United passengers who had been scheduled to fly to or from Kahului airport on Maui, as well as Honolulu airport. 

Customers who were originally scheduled to fly between August 11 and September 16, and purchased tickets before August 9 may reschedule their trips and have any change fees and fare differences waived. The new ticket must be for a flight scheduled to depart before October 1. Passengers who wish to cancel their trips altogether are entitled to full refunds. 


For its part, American Airlines is also waiving change fees on all flights to and from Hawaiian airports, through August 18. 


Alaska Air has a "flexible travel policy" in place that allows customers to change their flights at no cost through August 31 or cancel them in exchange for a travel voucher worth the cost of the flight.

Some would-be visitors to Maui said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that they wanted outright refunds from airlines, as opposed to the option of rebooking within a short time frame. Given the extent of devastation the wildfires have caused, it may be some time before travelers may want to rebook.

Southwest Airlines said it had added flights between islands and back to the mainland U.S. "to keep people and supplies moving." Some fares from Maui to the mainland U.S. are under $100. 

Hawaiian Airlines also said it's adding extra flights between Maui and Honolulu for as little as $19 "to facilitate urgent travel."

The Hawaii Tourism Authority added that "airlines are being very supportive during this emergency crisis and providing additional flights to help visitors depart from Maui. Airlines are also adjusting their travel schedules to support those visitors who had planned to arrive this week."

Will I be compensated for my hotel accommodations?

Hotels and resorts in vulnerable areas have lost power, halted service and stopped accepting guests altogether. Some are providing full refunds to scheduled guests, depending on the time of their planned stay.

They've temporarily stopped accepting new reservations, too, given the uncertainty of the situation. Hotels have pivoted from accepting guests to housing their employees and families until the fires are fully contained and travel on roadways becomes safe again. 

They are also equipped to house evacuees and first responders helping with disaster relief efforts. 

Furthermore, the Tourism Authority is asking visitors with forthcoming reservations not to try to contact their accommodation providers at this time, so as not to tie up or overburden their limited bandwidths.

"While efforts are underway to restore basic services, like power and communications, visitors are encouraged to refrain from attempting to reach West Maui accommodations for reservation adjustments until the situation improves," it said. 

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa said the hotel is "closed to arrivals and not accepting guests" for the time being. It will issue refunds including for deposits and prepayments to guests who had been scheduled to stay at the property through the weekend. 

Homesharing site Airbnb said its extenuating circumstances policy has gone into effect for parts of Hawaii, including all of Maui. It is also allowing hosts and guests to cancel their stays without penalty. Guest are entitled to full refunds for reservations in the area they don't use.  

Non-refundable reservations

In the case of non-refundable reservations, a travel insurance policy could help you recoup payments related to a trip you didn't take. 

For travelers already on Maui, some of these policies also come with medical evacuation options that can help visitors on the island get to safer ground.

Some credit card companies already have protections related to travel built-in, without requiring that you sign up for additional protections.

"Many of them automatically include travel insurance, so check and see what you're entitled to," Keyes said.

—With reporting by Elizabeth Napolitano


Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News streaming to discuss her reporting.

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Maui fires: is it safe to travel to Hawaii right now?

oahu travel maui fire

Tuesday August 15 2023, 15:30pm

The wildfires that have blazed through the western and central parts of Maui in Hawaii have now taken the lives of at least 99 people, with more fatalities expected. The fires, which started on August 8, were fanned by strong winds from Hurricane Dora and several neighbourhoods have been burned to the ground. The historic city of Lahaina on the island’s west coast has been devastated, and wildfires have also hit Kihei in the southwest and Kula in the centre of the island. Fires are also affecting Hawaii’s Big Island, although to a lesser extent. Firefighting efforts are continuing, although the fires are now largely under control barring a handful of flare-ups — if you’re travelling to the US state, here’s what you need to know.

Main photo: a wildfire burns in Lahaina, Maui (Alamy)

A wildfire near Kohala Ranch on Big Island, Hawaii

Where are the fires in Hawaii?

So far the fires are restricted to Maui and Big Island, two of the main islands in the state of Hawaii.

On Maui, the fires have mainly affected the western side of the island, with rescue efforts hampered by power outages and disruptions to mobile phone signals. As of Tuesday, August 15, the fires were mainly under control.

Several neighbourhoods in Lahaina, where most of the island’s hotels are located, were completely burned to the ground. The harbour area was also destroyed, and residents were relocated to shelters. Fires here are still burning but have been largely contained. There are also fires in Kihei in the southwest and Kula in the centre of the island. So far, 11,000 tourists have been evacuated. 

Big Island, known as Hawaii Island, is also affected by fires although the damage hasn’t been as extreme as on Maui. Most of the flames have been centred around the north of the island, in particular Mauna Kea, Waimea, and North and South Kohala.

Fires in these areas have mainly affected residents as it’s not a key tourist resort. The relative remoteness of the areas also means that fewer people have been affected. The Hawaiian Tourism Authority, alongside celebrities, has discouraged non-essential travel to Maui.

What started the fires in Hawaii?

The cause of the fires has yet to be determined.

However, Hurricane Dora is thought to have made it worse. Although the weather system passed around 500 miles south of the island chain, strong winds from it fanned the flames, making it difficult to keep them under control.

The remoteness of some parts of the Hawaiian islands also means that rescue efforts were restricted.

A firefighter at work at a wildfire in North Kohala on Big Island, Hawaii

Is it safe to travel to Hawaii?

Hawaii is a popular surfing, honeymoon and family holiday destination, and it’s generally safe for travellers. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the state’s hurricane season lasts from June 1 until November 30, and storms have had devastating effects on the island in the past.

Hawaii is affected by wildfires every year, but scientists from the University of Hawaii have found that instances have quadrupled in recent decades. The cause is down to a mixture of human action, drier and hotter summers, and non-native plant species that are more susceptible to fires.

The fires are currently affecting only Maui and Big Island, which means the other Hawaiian islands are still safe to travel to (more below).

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Kaanapali Beach on Maui, Hawaii

Can I get a refund if I choose not to go?

If your Hawaiian holiday is on an unaffected island, there’s no reason not to travel. If you decide to cancel your trip anyway, it will count as a disinclination to travel and you won’t get a refund.

If you’re heading to Maui or Big Island, check with your tour operator or travel company — the local government has advised against non-essential travel to Maui, while a number of flights have been cancelled (more below). Your operator should be in touch to talk about your options, which might include a cancellation with a full refund, or a change to your itinerary such as new travel date or a different destination. 

Am I covered by my travel insurance?

You should check your policy to see what your travel insurance covers. Most policies have weather-related coverage that will help you recoup some of your costs if you cannot travel or if your holiday is cut short by extreme weather or events such as wildfires.

  • Travel insurance guide: everything you need to know

The view of the coast from Diamond Head State Monument in Oahu, Hawaii

What is the Hawaiian government’s advice?

The acting governor of Hawaii, Sylvia Luke, issued an emergency proclamation advising against non-essential travel to Maui for the foreseeable future.

The Hawaiian Tourism Authority said: “Visitors who are on non-essential travel are being asked to leave Maui, and non-essential travel to Maui is strongly discouraged at this time.

“Visitors who have travel plans to West Maui in the coming weeks are encouraged to consider rescheduling their travel plans for a later time.

“Visitors with travel plans to stay in other parts of Maui and the Mauna Kea Resort area of Hawaii Island in the coming weeks are encouraged to contact their hotels for updated information and how their travel plans may be affected. Travel to Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai and other parts of Hawaii Island are not affected at this time.”

Passengers wait at Kahului Airport in Maui, Hawaii, as wildfires affect travel

What flights have been cancelled?

All of the airports in Hawaii are currently open and operational. However, several airlines, including American Airlines, cancelled flights to Maui’s Kahului airport. Outbound flights are still operating.

Travellers due to fly in or out of Maui in the next couple of days are being given the opportunity to change or cancel their flights without penalty. This waiver applies to Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

You should make sure your airline has up to date details for you in case of any last minute cancellations.

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After Maui Wildfires, Travelers Ask: Would a Trip Help or Hurt?

Residents and travelers are grappling with the propriety of visiting Maui, the epicenter of last week’s wildfires but an island heavily reliant on tourist dollars.

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A spray-painted sign that reads ‘Tourist Keep Out’ posted on a chain-link fence.

By Christine Chung and Madison Malone Kircher

In the throes of responding to the Maui wildfires that razed the celebrated town of Lahaina and claimed over 110 lives, Hawaii remains mostly open for tourism, despite the misgivings of both residents and tourists.

“Do not come to Maui,” Kate Ducheneau, a Lahaina resident, said in a TikTok video that has been viewed more than two million times since it was posted on Sunday. “Cancel your trip. Now.”

“It’s just kind of a gut-wrenching feeling to see other people enjoying parts of their life that we used to welcome,” she said, adding that her home was severely damaged by fire and her family evacuated with minutes to spare.

Last week’s tragedy has intensified long-simmering tension over the archipelago’s economic reliance on tourism, a dependency that sparked anti-tourism protests in recent years and brought the state to its knees during the pandemic. Many residents, particularly in Maui, are furious over the uncomfortable, contradictory scenario of visitors frolicking in the state’s lush forests or sunbathing on white-sand beaches while they grieve the immense loss of life, home and culture . Others believe that tourism, while particularly painful now, is vital.

“People forget real quick right now, how many local businesses shut down during Covid,” said Daniel Kalahiki, who operates a food truck in Wailuku on Maui, east of Lahaina. The island needs to heal and the disaster areas are far from recovered, he said, but the tourist-go-home messaging is irresponsible and harmful.

“No matter what, the rest of Maui has to keep going on,” said Mr. Kalahiki, 52. “The island has already been shot in the chest. Are you going to stab us in the heart also?”

The devastating loss of life, and these conflicting messages, are causing travelers to grapple over the propriety of visiting Maui, or anywhere in Hawaii, in the near future, prompting them to ask if their dollars would help or their presence would hamper recovery efforts.

“If we’re in a Vrbo, is that going to take away from a potential person who’s been displaced?” said Stephanie Crow, an Oklahoman traveling to Maui this fall for her wedding.

Official guidance from the Hawaiian government has shifted in past week, first discouraging travelers from visiting the entire island of Maui, and now, from West Maui for the rest of the month . Travel to the other islands, including tourist-draws Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island, remains unaffected.

State tourism groups say that travel is encouraged to support Hawaii’s recovery and to prevent it from plunging into a deeper crisis.

“Tourism is Hawaii’s major economic driver, and we don’t want to compound a horrific natural disaster of the fires with a secondary economic disaster,” said Ilihia Gionson, a spokesman for the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Vital to the economy

For those in the tourism industry, the year was off to a promising start. Visitor spending through June was $10.78 billion, a 17 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism . The pandemic’s woes were in the past.

But tension over growing tourist numbers was not. Hawaii has for decades been one of the top destinations for American and international visitors, and has struggled to balance tourism with residents’ demands to acknowledge and protect the islands’ traditional culture. Visitor-reliant countries like Jamaica, Thailand and Mexico navigate similar existential issues.

A year ago, John De Fries, the first Native Hawaiian to lead the Tourism Authority, told The New York Times that “local residents have a responsibility to host visitors in a way that is appropriate. Conversely, visitors have a responsibility to be aware that their destination is someone’s home, someone’s neighborhood, someone’s community.”

In the tourism agency’s most recent resident sentiment survey , issued in July, 67 percent of 1,960 respondents across four islands expressed “favorable” views of tourism in the state. But the same percentage agreed with the assertion: “This island is being run for tourists at the expense of local people.”

In the immediate days after the fires, frustration over visitors in Maui erupted.

“People are preying on trauma,” wrote Kailee Soong, a spiritual mentor who lives on Maui in Waikapu, on a TikTok post .

Tourists are still in stores even though resources are limited, said Ms. Soong, 33, in the video. “They are in the way right now as people mourn the loss of their loved ones, of the places that burned down, of the history that was completely erased.”

“Maui is not the place to have your vacation right now,” said the Oahu-born actor Jason Momoa in an Instagram Story. He posted an infographic that read “stop traveling to Maui,” and included guidance on how to make donations. There was fierce outcry after a Maui-based snorkeling company conducted a charity tour after the wildfires, leading the company to issue an apology and suspend operations.

“To hear that people are snorkeling in the water that people have had traumatic experiences and have died in, it’s hard to justify the reasoning behind why that would be viewed as acceptable,” Ms. Ducheneau, 29, said.

She works in property management and at a Lahaina restaurant, and noted that her family’s income is wholly dependent on tourists. Still, she said, “I just don’t think it’s an appropriate time to welcome tourism back into our area.”

The industry supplies approximately 200,000 jobs across the islands, and last year, a little over 9 million visitors spent $19.29 billion, according to the Tourism Authority . About 3 million visitors went to Maui, where the “visitor industry” accounts for 80 percent of every dollar generated on the island, the Maui Economic Development Board said .

“Just like everybody, we need to work. We just got over Covid. Things are just starting to get better. To think that everything might shut down again,” said Reyna Ochoa, a 46-year-old who lives in Haiku in North Maui and works several jobs outside of the tourism industry. “ The islands need the tourism and the income to rebuild.”

In Wailuku, Mr. Kalahiki said that his food-truck sales have dropped by half. Streets usually “popping” with tourists have been empty, he said, and there have been days when his wife, who has a beach apparel store in town, hasn’t sold a single item.

Travelers search for clarity

Then there are the travelers who have saved up for their first vacations in years, many with plans to reunite with family or to celebrate weddings and honeymoons. Many want to be respectful and are searching for clarity on what that looks like, deluging online forums to ask local residents where and when it is acceptable to visit.

Early next month, Danett Williams, 48, will spend her honeymoon on the Big Island, where fires burned in North and South Kohala.

For days, she and her fiancé went back and forth about canceling their trip, considering a road trip from their home in San Francisco instead. Ultimately, they decided their tourism dollars were helpful, as long as they stayed clear of other islands and did not take up necessary space or resources away from displaced residents, she said.

Others, like Ms. Crow, from Oklahoma, say that vendors like her wedding planner are asking her to keep their trip. In early September, Ms. Crow, 47, and her fiancé plan to get married on a beach in Kihei, about 20 miles south of Lahaina. It was supposed to be a wedding in a “happy, blissful paradise” setting, she said.

“These are first-world problems I’m dealing with. They’ve lost life, homes, income, they’ve lost everything,” Ms. Crow said.

Determining what to do has been overwhelming and conflicting, she added. And the shifting directives from officials were perplexing, she said.

‘We just need some time’

Marilyn Clark, a travel agent who specializes in trips to Hawaii, said the travel industry was in a “holding pattern” waiting for further government guidance.

Major hotels across Maui have relaxed their cancellation policies through the end of August, she said, but what hotels and vendors will offer beyond that is unclear, compounding the anxiety and confusion among travelers.

And travelers like Ms. Crow are unsure whether their presence will take away from the people who need shelter. In Lahaina alone, one official said that as many as 6,000 people may have lost their homes.

Some hotel operators say that they are offering rooms and other support to emergency responders, displaced residents and hotel staff. The state has secured 1,000 hotel rooms, most of which are north of Lahaina, in Kaanapali, said Kekoa McClellan, a spokesman for the Hawaii Hotel Alliance.

Joe Pluta, a West Maui community leader and real estate broker, is among the homeless. He is staying with his daughter after escaping the flames that destroyed his home and all his possessions.

Describing himself as a “top fan of tourism,” he however suggested that there were other ways to support Maui. The horror and grief is too raw, he said.

“This is not the proper time to come and play,” said Mr. Pluta, 74. “Come again, just give us some time. We just need some time.”

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation.

Christine Chung is a travel reporter for The Times. She previously covered breaking news. She joined The Times in November 2021. More about Christine Chung

Madison Malone Kircher is a reporter for The Times. She writes about the internet for the Styles desk. More about Madison Malone Kircher

Our Coverage of the Hawaii Wildfires

What began as scattered brush fires on the state’s biggest islands, hawaii and maui, has turned into one of the worst natural disasters in hawaii’s history..

Honoring the Past: As conversations about rebuilding the town of Lahaina after the devastating fires take shape, Native Hawaiians are asking that their place in local history be recognized .

A Bribery Scandal:  For years, a local businessman on Maui paid off officials in exchange for lucrative contracts. As the island recovers from the wildfires, the contract-monitoring system he exploited has been left largely unchanged .

Return of Tourism: The entire island of Maui is bracing for the return of tourism even as disaster relief efforts continue. But the path to recovery remains uncertain .

A Redemption Story Cut Short: Po’omaika’i Estores-Losano was 28, with two sons, a passion for music and a rocky past he was hoping to atone for. But the Maui wildfires stripped him of his chance to fix his mistakes .

What One Family Lost: Folau Tone and his children narrowly escaped the Maui wildfire. His parents, sister and 7-year-old nephew did not .

Traveling to Hawaii? What to know about Maui wildfires.

What to know about canceling hotels and flights as officials warn against nonessential travel.

The combination of drought and strong winds has inflamed wildfires in Hawaii, producing a rapid blaze that has killed at least 55 people and displaced thousands more on Maui and the Big Island.

Lahaina, a Maui town of about 12,000 people where tourists flock to see remnants of a royal capital, has been dramatically scorched, turning a typically verdant locale black and gray and displacing residents.

In the immediate response, airlines and other hospitality businesses are using their resources to aid locals in need. Tourism officials are discouraging nonessential travel to the island.

The natural disaster is an important reminder for travelers to prepare for the worst . Here’s what you need to know if you have an upcoming trip to Hawaii planned.

Follow live updates on the Maui wildfires

Wildfires in Hawaii

What’s happening: After the deadly wildfire in Maui devastated the town of Lahaina, people search for their loved ones as they face the devastation of losing homes , schools and businesses .

How did the fires start? Officials have not announced a cause, though video and data shows it was probably power lines . The spread of nonnative grasses and hurricane-stoked winds could have been factors, along with the indirect influence of climate change .

What areas have been impacted? Fires burned across multiple Hawaiian islands — these maps show where . The town of Lahaina on the island of Maui suffered widespread damage, and historical landmarks across the island were damaged . These photos show the extent of the blaze .

Can I help? Many organizations are accepting donations to assist those affected by the wildfires. Visitors returning to West Maui are encouraged to practice regenerative tourism .

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8 Must-Know Details on Visiting Maui After the Fires

visiting maui after the fires

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read about our affiliate policies here .

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In the spirit of first-hand knowledge, our family returned from a seven-day trip to Maui on September 18th. We were looking forward to seeing friends and business owners get their take on visiting Maui after the fires. Unprovoked, they all said the same thing,

“ The best way you can support Maui is to visit. “

And Maui needs visitors. A Kahului runway has 20,000 dusty rental cars on it. We swam alone in the Pua’a Kaa waterfalls on the Road to Hana. Rental cars can be found for $30 a day. Plenty of seats open at The Hula Show at South Maui Gardens.

visiting maui after the fires rental cars

The Hawaiian owner of Da Mean Bean in Hana said, “Why did our government officials say Maui is closed?”

As West Maui was our home, it was refreshing to stay a full week in South Maui. We traveled the island from Makena to Wailuku to Hana to Kula during our stay. Here are our takeaways on visiting Maui after the fires.

Reminder: West Maui is now open as of the end of October which means you can book and stay in Kapalua to Ka’anapali. Lahaina is still closed of course. See our Maui Travel Updates for details.

Tips for Visiting Maui After the Fires

These takeaways on visiting Maui after the fires were first published in our twice-a-month newsletter. You can sign up for our Hawaii travel newsletter here !

As we love to show and tell, we also have these takeaways in a video. Watch to see what you can expect when you visit Maui after the fires.

1. What Should You Expect When Visiting Maui After the Fires?

Visiting Maui feels like a vacation to Maui. The crews on the snorkeling boats were thankful to have us visit, and so were the waiters at all the restaurants. People greeted us with aloha and were thrilled to have us on the island.

The biggest difference was the lack of crowds. As less than 40% of the daily visitor census is on the island, it was easy to walk into restaurants, book a tour, and drive an empty Hana Highway.

The University of Hawaii Economists expect visitor arrivals to reach 50% of their 2022 level by the end of this year, and to top 80% of their pre-fire levels by the end of 2024 50% of

As the fires were specific to the Lahaina area, we did not see any damage. We didn’t see the damage from the Kula fires during our trips to Upcountry to walk historic Makawao Town or volunteer in Kula. 

There are Maui Strong signs all over the island and people are grieving. That is clear from talking to locals and listening to the radio. As the recovery effort continues, workers want to work and businesses are eager to have you wait in line for shave ice.

rock with Maui Strong at a volunteer event on Maui

2. Where to Stay: South Maui is Open!

Ma’alaea to Wailea is full of vacation rentals, resorts, and hotels that are welcoming visitors. Ma’alaea and Kihei are full of vacation rentals, here are Erica’s 9 favorite vacation rental complexes in Kihei .

Wailea is home to luxury resorts. The Fairmont Kea Lani, Grand Wailea, The Andaz, and Wailea Beach Resort are some of the nicest places to stay in Hawaii.

We stayed in a vacation rental in Wailea during our stay so we were close to the famous Wailea beaches while having more space for the kids. See Erica’s 7 Best Vacation Rentals in Wailea and Maken a to get some ideas and book!

See our where-to-stay directory for hotel and vacation rental reviews on Maui.

Maui Travel Update Map

3. Save on a Trip to Maui

Since so few people are visiting Maui after the fires, supply and demand have brought down prices.

Our price research has found steep discounts if you want to do a last-minute trip to Maui. Hawaii in October is our favorite time of year to visit…

Rental car prices at Kahului Airport are less than $30 a day for a standard car in October. 

Airlines like Alaska and Hawaiian continue to offer flash sales and low ticket prices in general. Hawaiian Airlines has $200 to $350 roundtrip flights.

Vacation rentals are dropping in price as websites like Airbnb adapt to decrease demand but hotels have been reluctant to drop prices.

All the Hawaiian Islands are experiencing price drops as tourism decreases due to the fires. You can find good prices even into Thanksgiving when prices traditionally start to increase with demand.

4. Things to Do on Maui

730 square miles of Maui are open and ready to be explored. From sunrise on Haleakala to driving the Road to Hana with 10% off ( complete Road to Hana guide is here ), don’t think small when planning your trip.

Here are some of our favorite things to do on Maui:

  • 16 Things to Do in Upcountry
  • 14 Things to Do in Wailea
  • 14 Things to Do in Kihei
  • The 9 Best South Maui Beaches

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Get all the details on our itinerary and download it for a memorable and easily planned trip to Maui.

5. Supporting Local is Easy

To run a business well on Maui, you have to live on Maui. Hence, most restaurants and shops are locally owned. Maui has many of the classic stores found on the mainland and other large brands so it isn’t hard to spot the mom-and-pop places.

We made sure to visit as many small Maui businesses as we could on this trip. Here are some recommendations.

  • Rent your car from a local company like Kimo’s or Kihei Rent-a-Car . The Huskin family opened Kihei Rent-a-Car in 1990 and rents Altimas, vans, and Jeeps at good prices.
  • The best local grindz (food) can be found at food trucks! South Maui Gardens has a new food truck park that will be going in my Maui Food Truck Guide . Here are Erica’s favorite restaurants in South Maui .
  • Local shopping can be found along South Kihei Road in Kihei, Baldwin Avenue in Makawao, or with a trip to Wailuku. 

Before you visit Maui after the fires, check out our video with more tips on shopping locally on Maui.

6. Do a Tour! 

There is nothing more local than going on a guided tour. Everything is local on a snorkel tour, especially the ones we do as they source their food and drinks locally. 

We took the opportunity during this Maui trip to go out with one old friend and one new friend.

The Molokini Crater Sunrise Deluxe Snorkel tour is one of our favorites in all of Hawaii. It leaves from Maluaka Beach in Wailea. The sunrise over Haleakala is gorgeous and having Molokini Crater to yourself is a special thing. The local Hawaiian owners are doing their best to keep their full crew employed. They have a sunset tour also!

We met Sage of Maui Sailing Canoe on Polo Beach in Wailea. Sage and his first mate Brody took us canoe sailing and snorkeling offshore Makena. The kids loved playing on the nets, we loved Sage’s Hawaiian history lessons, and a large female turtle loved hanging around the canoe.

Whale season on Maui starts in December! Lahaina tour operators have moved to Ma’alaea Harbor in Central Maui. We expect a prolific whale season this year. Explore our favorite whale-watching tours on Maui to pick one for your trip.

Get this, during the Lahaina Fire one of the owners of Trilogy (a family-owned company) gave his truck to a family who was stranded at the harbor so they could escape. He hopped aboard Trilogy V and steered it out of the harbor using a compass because the smoke was so thick. Trilogy’s oldest boat sunk in the fire but the rest of their catamarans survived.

Explore all our favorite Maui tours and activities here . We have updated the Lahaina Harbor tours.

7. Consider Volunteering

Thou shalt not feel obligated to volunteer or donate when visiting Maui after the fires. The act of visiting speaks volumes in our opinion.

If you do feel inclined to volunteer at a kitchen or other event, we have a list of Maui volunteering opportunities that are possible while you are on vacation. 

We volunteered at Hungry Heroes Hawaii at their Kula Kitchen. They are a wonderful group that makes meals for people all across the island. They are an efficient operation. So efficient that they were mostly done cleaning up by the time we arrived to be the clean-up crew.

8. Consider Bringing Supplies

Folks in our newsletter community love to recommend bringing a suitcase of supplies to Maui and then going home with a suitcase full of souvenirs. That is a wonderful idea. 

Maui Food Bank has drop-off locations across the island, including Kihei Rent-a-Car and Safeway grocery stores. They also list what they need on their homepage so take a look .

Final Thoughts on Visiting Maui After the Fires

We understand that it is a complicated decision to visit Maui after the fires. There is a lot of information, some not accurate, on what is going on in Maui. We enjoyed our trip and felt we were greeted with aloha as we brought our aloha spirit.

The island is working together to support those who survived the Lahaina Fire. Our friend at Valley Isle Excursions provided some more advice when she answered, Can You Travel to Maui Right Now?

If you do visit Maui after the fires, bring your aloha spirit and have a wonderful trip!

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Thanks for reading The Hawaii Vacation Guide! I'm the co-founder, with my wife Erica, of the best Hawaii travel guide on the internet in our biased opinions. We enjoy traveling throughout Hawaii after living on Maui and Oahu. We share our adventures, travel tips and resources, and honest reviews so you can easily plan your dream vacation to Hawaii. Editing our videos, teaching the kids how to snorkel, and learning about the 'aina (land) and Hawaii culture are my favorite things to do. Have a wonderful trip to the Aloha State.

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How to adjust your travel plans for Hawaii during the wildfires

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The Hawaiian island of Maui is asking visitors to stay away as it tries to recover from devastating wildfires.

Officials said Thursday morning that two of the three fires on Maui were largely contained. But the damage to portions of the island is extensive, particularly in the tourism-heavy region of West Maui, where fire appears to have incinerated much of the historic town of Lahaina .

The Kahului Airport on Maui remains open, at least in part because of all the people being evacuated (officials have asked all visitors on “non-essential” trips to leave). With the wildfires causing more than 50 deaths and an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion in damage and economic losses, the Hawaiian government is strongly discouraging tourists from coming to the island.

If you had a vacation planned, this is what you need to know.

World & Nation

Mapping how the Maui fires destroyed Lahaina

The Lahaina fire in West Maui ignited as firefighters focused on the Upcountry fire. What happened next — the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century — left the historic town in ashes.

Aug. 14, 2023

Should I cancel my trip to Hawaii?

The state tourism authority emphasized that most parts of Hawaii continue to welcome visitors. “Travel to Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi” and parts of Hawaiʻi Island other than the Mauna Kea resort area “are not affected at this time,” the authority said on its website Wednesday. By Thursday, the Mauna Kea Resort on the big island was open again after three fires in the area were brought under control, the authority said.

Maui, and particularly West Maui, is a different story. The tourism authority said Wednesday night that visitors bound for West Maui in the coming weeks “are encouraged to consider rescheduling their travel plans for a later time.”

“In the days and weeks ahead, our collective resources and attention must be focused on the recovery of residents and communities that were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses,” the authority said.

Lahaina, Maui, Thursday, August 11, 2023 - A man stands among the wreckage downtown. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Death toll in Maui fires rises to 67: ‘We have not yet searched’ buildings

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green says the fires are probably the state’s deadliest natural disaster in decades.

Aug. 11, 2023

What can I do about my flight to Hawaii?

Some major airlines offer customers the ability to obtain refunds for travel to Maui in the coming weeks, as well as the option to reschedule their flights. The exact terms depend on the airline.

At United Airlines , if you had paid for a flight to Kahului Airport between Aug. 11 and Aug. 31, you can cancel and get a refund, according to the United website. You can also reschedule your trip and the change fees and fare differences will be waived under certain circumstances.

If your new trip is after Aug. 31 or is to a destination outside Hawaii, United will still waive any change fees, but you may have to pay a fare difference, depending on the flight.

At Delta Air Lines , customers who can’t reschedule their trips to Maui may cancel their reservations and apply the ticket cost to the purchase of new flight — but that flight has to be booked no more than a year after the Maui ticket was purchased, the airline’s website says.

If you schedule a new flight on or before Aug. 18 at the same level of service as the Maui flight, Delta’s website says it will waive the change fee and any difference in fare. After that, only the change fee will be waived.

The American Airlines site suggests that refunds are possible for flights to or through Maui if you cancel by Aug. 13. You can apply for one on the airline’s website .

If you want to reschedule your flight, American will waive the change fee if you rebook by Aug. 13, but you may have to pay any difference in the fare. To see if your flight is eligible for a refund or fee waiver, use the “ Find your trip ” tool on the airline’s website. If you can’t change your trip online, call Reservations for help.

At Alaska Airlines , if you’d purchased a ticket to or from Maui by Aug. 9, you can obtain a refund as long as you cancel before the original flight’s departure date, the airline’s website says. You can also reschedule onto a new flight to or from Maui or three other Hawaiian airports through Aug. 31 at the same fare if you stay in the same cabin. But you have to exchange their tickets prior to the departure of their original flight.

Hawaiian Airlines is allowing customers to cancel their flights in exchange for a refund or a credit for future flights, or to change their flights to a different island, its website says. To change or cancel your flight, call the airline’s reservations line at 800-367-5320.

A spokesperson for the airline said, “We ask guests with non-urgent inquiries to please call back later so that we can assist travelers with immediate needs. Guests traveling through Kahului should continue to check their flight status on our website or app before coming to the airport.”

Wildfire wreckage is shown Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. The search of the wildfire wreckage on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Thursday revealed a wasteland of burned out homes and obliterated communities as firefighters battled the stubborn blaze making it the deadliest in the U.S. in recent years. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

How to help Maui residents displaced by the devastating wildfires

Wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui have killed at least 36 people, displaced thousands of residents and destroyed hundreds of structures, including homes, businesses and a school, prompting President Biden to declare a “major disaster.”

Aug. 10, 2023

Will my hotel charge me a fee to cancel my stay in Maui?

Under normal circumstances, many hotels penalize last-minute cancellations by charging fees that can be considerable. Some in West Maui are waiving those fees at the moment, but figuring out the policy at the hotel you’ve booked can be a challenge — the closer it is to the fire, the more likely that its power and phone lines are down.

The Hyatt family of hotels is waiving cancellation fees for arrivals “in the coming days,” the company said in a statement. It suggested that guests with reservations call its customer support line at 800-233-1234 “for additional details and assistance in alternate accommodations.” It also noted, however, that canceled reservations made through online booking sites and other third parties may be governed by those sites’ policies.

An Expedia spokesperson told The Times in an email that it is working with hotels that book through Expedia and Hotels.com to institute a “flex policy” for reservations on the full island of Maui through Aug. 31. “This means that travelers with upcoming bookings in the impacted area can change or cancel their hotel booking without penalty,” she said. “The flex policy can be accessed when you engage with a virtual agent once you log into your account or provide your itinerary number to the virtual agent.”

Expedia and Hotels.com ’s customer service agents are available 24 hours a day by phone or online to help with travel arrangements.

According to a spokesperson for Marriott hotels, the Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Ka’anapali, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa and the Ritz-Carlton Maui in Kapalua have been evacuated and will close temporarily due to extended power outages. Cancellation fees at the three hotels have been waived through Aug. 31. She advised travelers to the area to follow the news and MauiCounty.gov for local situation updates. To adjust reservations, guests should visit Marriott.com or the Marriott app.

If you’re headed for other parts of Maui or the Mauna Kea resort area on the island of Hawaii, the state tourism authority says, you should talk to the hotel you booked for updates about how you might be affected.

Hotels in Maui may still be taking reservations, and some are providing refunds up to the date of travel. For example, you could book a room for next week at the Outrigger Kaanapali Beach Resort on Thursday afternoon, even though the power and phone lines at the resort were out, according to a reservation agent.

CORRECTS DATE TO AUG. 8 - People watch as smoke and flames fill the air from raging wildfires on Front Street in downtown Lahaina, Maui on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. Maui officials say wildfire in the historic town has burned parts of one of the most popular tourist areas in Hawaii. County of Maui spokesperson Mahina Martin said in a phone interview early Wednesday says fire was widespread in Lahaina, including Front Street, an area of the town popular with tourists. (Alan Dickar via AP)

‘Gone forever’: Fire devastates historic Lahaina, former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom

The wildfire that ripped through Maui devastated Lahaina, a town boasting centuries of history and that was once the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom.

Can I cancel my Vrbo or Airbnb?

Expedia Group, which owns Vrbo, said in a statement that it is “applying an extenuating circumstances exception for eligible Vrbo reservations in Maui where travelers will be able to get a full refund.” It added, “We will continue to work with our Vrbo hosts who have upcoming bookings in impacted areas to make sure all of our travelers are treated fairly.”

Airbnb customer service says that they will provide penalty-free cancellations in parts of Maui for hosts and guests who request them. However, people need to call the site’s customer service line at (844) 234-2500 to make sure that they are eligible.

Travelers whose accommodations aren’t directly affected by the fires may have a harder time obtaining a refund.

One reader told The Times that he and his wife wanted to heed the government’s request and cancel their trip to Maui, but their Airbnb host declined to give them even a partial refund on their $2,000 stay. According to Airbnb’s site, cancellations and refunds are up to the hosts , not Airbnb.

Will travel insurance cover me?

According to the insurance comparison site Insuremytrip.com , “If a wildfire that affects your trip is known before you purchase a plan, your coverage may be extremely limited.” So if you are thinking of purchasing travel insurance now for a trip in the coming weeks, don’t bother.

What you can do is see if wildfires fall under the definition of “natural disaster” on your travel insurance policy. You may also be eligible for coverage under “trip delay” if your flight is canceled, “trip interruption” if your accommodations or primary residence are damaged, or “trip cancellation” if your destination has been evacuated, Insuremytrip says.

About The Times Utility Journalism Team

This article is from The Times’ Utility Journalism Team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions and helps with decision making . We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles — including current Times subscribers and diverse communities that haven’t historically had their needs met by our coverage. How can we be useful to you and your community? Email utility (at) latimes.com or one of our journalists: Jon Healey , Ada Tseng , Jessica Roy and Karen Garcia .

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oahu travel maui fire

Emma Fox was a 2023 summer intern on the Utility Journalism team at the Los Angeles Times. A student at Loyola Marymount University, she majors in journalism with a Chicano/Latino studies minor and was the arts and culture editor at the on-campus publication, the Lion. Fox is the president of her school’s chapters of the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists and previously was an intern for the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint.

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  • ABC7 Eyewitness News Watch Now


  • Hawaii wildfires

Planning to visit Hawaii? Here's what to know about fires on Maui and Big Island

oahu travel maui fire

Devastating wildfires in the Hawaiian Islands - coupled with vast communication gaps created by the interruption of services - have many travelers in limbo as they struggle to leave the especially hard-hit island of Maui or reschedule imminent travel plans.

Here's what we know right now about Hawaii travel.

Which islands are affected?

Fires on parts of the islands of Maui and Hawaii were burning Wednesday, creating dangerous conditions in some parts of those two islands. The most harrowing conditions on Wednesday appeared to be in West Maui in the town of Lahaina.

A blaze engulfed the historic town, which is a popular tourist destination, and the town was evacuated. Communication networks have been crippled, and it's still unclear how much the fires have impacted the surrounding coast, where numerous resorts are located.

"The last person out has the most information," said Lahaina resident Claire Kent. Kent escaped the blaze and told CNN's Jim Sciuttothat practically everything on the town's Front Street has burned, including the historic Banyan tree, a Lahaina landmark.

Travel adviser Jim Bendt, owner of Pique Travel Design in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, also noted the communications challenges. Bendt had been in contact Wednesday with people in Hawaii.

"Our local contacts have told us the damage is contained around the Lahaina area. The major resort areas such as Ka'anapali, Kapalua, and Wailea were not part of the fire," Bendt told CNN Travel via email.

oahu travel maui fire

Some areas of the Kohala Coast on the island of Hawaii were evacuated because of fires, according to the county's website . Mandatory evacuations there were lifted Wednesday evening. Fire hazards are noted here . By late Wednesday, state officials had not discouraged travel to that island.

How are travelers getting out of Maui?

State officials were working with hotels and a local airline to try to evacuate tourists to another island, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke told CNN on Wednesday morning. But severed communications have hobbled efforts to reach everyone.

Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG) is open, the Hawaii Department of Transportation posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

The HDOT urged patience at the airport.

"All airlines are sending additional support to aid in getting people off island," the DOT said in another post. "@TSA_Pacific Hawaii leadership will be adding resources to support OGG."

Hawaiian Airlines added three additional late-night flights on Wednesday to Honolulu from Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG) to help evacuate travelers affected by the fires. The airline said it also added six additional flights earlier in the day and planned to add four extra flights from Maui to Honolulu on Thursday.

"Hawaiian is continuing to offer reduced $19 main cabin fares out of Maui to facilitate urgent travel needs," the airline said in a statement.

United and American told CNN Wednesday that their inbound flights to Maui were canceled. They were operating outbound flights from Maui.

Nonessential inbound travel to Maui is strongly discouraged, Ed Sniffen, director of the Hawaii State Department of Transportation, said Wednesday at a news conference.

About 2,000 people stayed overnight Tuesday at the airport in Maui, Sniffen said.

Over 11,000 people were flown out of Maui on Wednesday, Sniffen said in a press conference Wednesday evening.

Sniffen said roads to the airport in Maui have reopened and they are expecting more travelers to fly out on Thursday. The county is also running buses to help get travelers to the airport.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority also said on Wednesday afternoon that visitors who are in Maui on nonessential travel are being asked to leave the island.

What about travelers who have upcoming plans to visit Maui?

As noted above, government officials are discouraging nonessential travel to Maui.

Travel adviser Jim Bendt is following that guidance. Bendt said Pique Travel Design is advising clients traveling to Maui in the next week to reschedule their trips to "help ease the burden on local infrastructure."

Pique Travel will be working with its partners on the island to waive or minimize cancellation and change fees, he said.

Hawaiian Airlines , Alaska Airlines , American Airlines , Delta Air Lines , Southwest Airlines and United Airlines all are offering travel waivers for travel to Maui allowing passengers to change plans without penalty.

"Guests with non-urgent travel inquiries are encouraged to call back later so that we can assist those with immediate needs," Hawaiian Airlines posted on social platform X. The airline urged travelers to check their flight status before going to the airport.

For clients who had plans to visit Maui for part of their Hawaii trips, Bendt's company is looking at finding alternatives for them on other islands such as Kauai or Oahu.

"For future travel, we are waiting on damage assessments to determine the best path forward but don't anticipate canceling trips once it's safe to return," Bendt said.

Inits travel guidance, the Hawaii Tourism Authority specifically called out West Maui as the area that near-term travelers need to avoid.

"Visitors with travel plans to stay in other parts of Maui and the Kohala Coast of Hawaii Island in the coming weeks are encouraged to contact their hotels for updated information and how their travel plans may be affected," the tourism management authority said in an update Wednesday.

Inke Kappeler, a producer with CNN Digital in Berlin, Germany, is among those caught up in sudden travel disarray. She and her family were scheduled to head to Maui on Thursday from Kauai. Hawaiian Airlines told them they would need to reschedule as it was not advisable to travel to Maui for the next two weeks.

She's been unable to communicate with the hotel they had booked in the resort area of Ka'anapali, which is near one of the fire outbreaks. "I've tried to phone them several times, but the line is absolutely dead. I sent them a text message but no reply so far."

Their return flight to Germany is scheduled out of Maui. Kappelar anticipates trying to fly out of Daniel Inouye International Airport on Oahu instead.

What about other islands?

Bendt said travelers with plans to visit islands other than Maui won't need to change their plans.

"Hotels and tours are operating as normal," he said.

Another travel adviser, Norman Aynbinder, who is president and CEO of Excursionist in Miami, also noted the limited range of the current fires.

"It is important to note that Oahu, Lanai, and Kauai have no active fires and that the fires on the Big Island are limited to the Kohala Coast and do not impact most of the touring on the rest of the island," Aynbinder said via email.

The tourism authority noted that tourism to "Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lnai, and other parts of Hawaii Island are not affected at this time."

More broadly, what's next for travel to Maui?

For now, it's a wait-and-see situation.

"Natural disasters are, by nature, quick-moving. If you have a trip to Maui a fewweeks from now, your best bet for now is to wait and see if the fires get contained," said Scott Keyes, founder of travel site Going.com .

Keyes said that "there's no added benefit to canceling a trip a few weeks in advance versus a few days in advance."

And canceling could have a big impact on the island.

"The potential loss of tourism revenue could be anotherdevastingblow to the local community that relies on it," Bendt said.

"As of today, the tourism infrastructure outside of Lahaina has not been damaged and will be open for business," Bendt said. "Once officials have said it's safe to travel back to Maui the best thing people can do is not cancel their trips."

CNN's Cheri Mossburg, Stephanie Becker, Jamiel Lynch, Ross Levitt, Pete Muntean and Tori B. Powell contributed to this report. The CNN Wire ™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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What to do if you have a trip planned for Hawaii

Becky Blaine

Maui was hit hard by devastating wildfires fueled by hurricane-force winds. The fires caused catastrophic damage. Heartbreakingly, they are the deadliest the U.S. has experienced in many years.

The worst fires occurred in West Maui, as the historic area of Lahaina was completely destroyed by flames that are still only 90% contained. According to the Maui Emergency Management Agency's most recent alert Monday, a fire in the Upcountry area of Kula is still only 85% contained.

President Joe Biden signed an emergency disaster declaration for the state of Hawaii, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is coordinating recovery operations. On Monday, the president and Jill Biden traveled to Maui to survey the damage firsthand.

During the president's visit and joint press conference, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green again addressed the growing community concern about ensuring the economic well-being of Maui and the state, emphasizing the importance of travel.

"No one can travel to West Maui right now. We will share when that is possible again. Only returning residents and authorized emergency relief workers should come here now. But all of the other areas of Maui ... and the rest of Hawai'i are safe," Green said. "When you come, you will support our local economy and help speed the recovery of the people that are suffering right now."

A statement from the Hawaii Tourism Authority said that Green's sixth emergency proclamation , issued Aug. 19, remains in place, with all nonessential travel to West Maui being strongly discouraged for the duration of the proclamation (through Oct. 17).

Daily update videos on the disaster recovery are also being posted to the governor's Facebook page .

Given Maui's popularity as a vacation destination, numerous would-be tourists likely have upcoming trips scheduled. Given the scale of the disaster on the island, they now need to make some decisions about their upcoming plans to visit to allow the island to focus on recovery efforts.

Here's what to know if you have an upcoming trip to Maui.

Is it safe to travel to Maui right now?

oahu travel maui fire

It is currently not safe to travel to West Maui due to the multiple uncontained wildfires and evacuation orders that are in place.

Still, the governor has declared other areas of Maui safe and open for travel.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority released an updated travel advisory after Green's press conference, along with a map of the affected and restricted areas.

In alignment with Governor Green, the Hawai'i Tourism Authority urges visitors to refrain from going to West Maui (including Lahaina, Nāpili, Kāʻanapali, and Kapalua) as a means of respect to the people and places that have been lost in Lahaina during this devastating tragedy. The impacted area of Lahaina remains off limits to the public as the search and recovery efforts continue.
We encourage travelers to consider visiting other areas of Maui (including Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pāʻia and Hāna), as well as the other Hawaiian Islands of Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island.

Even when it is safe to travel to West Maui again, that part of the island will have limited resources and infrastructure.

Residents and visitors with upcoming travel bookings are encouraged to check with their airline for any flight changes and cancellations, or assistance with rebooking.

When might it be OK to travel to Maui?

At this time, it is unclear when West Maui will reopen, but the devastation to historic Lahaina is very substantial. As a result, disaster recovery operations will likely be very lengthy.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority released a statement last week that included a section devoted to common questions and answers and appears to be updated on a regular basis.

At this time, hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations and are housing their employees and families, evacuees, and first responders working on disaster recovery – well over 1,000 people so far with more to come.
Other areas on Maui (including Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pāʻia and Hāna), as well as the other Hawaiian Islands of Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island remain unaffected. We urge visitors to be especially mindful and respectful in our island home as our community continues through this tragedy.

Based on the updated information shared by the governor and the statement released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, they are encouraging travelers to consider visiting other areas of Maui. Such areas include Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Wailea, Makena, Paia and Hana.

oahu travel maui fire

Some hotels in other parts of the island, such as the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, have posted regularly updated statements on their websites.

It has been over a week now since wildfires decimated the historic town of Lahaina. Disaster recovery efforts are ongoing in West Maui, and supplies are flowing into the affected areas on a regular basis. And while the restoration of the land and community will take years, we know that Maui's tight-knit community will get through this together. We are grateful that the Wailea region of South Maui was not impacted and that all of our team members are safe and accounted for. Grand Wailea continues to welcome guests with aloha.
As we look toward the future of our island, it is more important now than ever that guests and groups continue to visit Maui. In a statement, the HLTA [Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association] noted, "Yes, we must be sensitive to the plight of those suffering from the wildfires. But bear in mind that so many of the victims and their families depend on the visitor industry for their jobs and futures. While they may have lost their homes and more, losing their incomes would only add to the pain and hardship of their situation. That's why it's important to keep tourism functioning to keep our economy alive and give our people hope and the ability to rebuild their lives." Governor Green shared in his daily briefing that, "what we're saying now is travel should not be to West Maui. But the other parts of Maui are safe."

Is it safe to travel to the other Hawaiian islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii?

Travel to the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai and Lanai and parts of the Big Island is not affected at this time in terms of safety. However, there may be some near-term capacity issues with so many tourists trying to relocate from Maui and even Maui residents seeking shelter on the other islands.

If you have a trip planned to another Hawaiian island, operations are likely currently unaffected. However, contact your hotel or check its website or social media channels for any updates should the situation change.

Additionally, be aware that while statements from officials say other Hawaiian islands are open and available for tourism, there is a sentiment among some Hawaiian residents that now may not be the time to vacation in the state. The area is grappling with this tragedy and working to support Maui with the resources and infrastructure that it needs.

Airlines allowing changes to Maui flights

oahu travel maui fire

A previous update from the Hawaii Tourism Authority stated that 46,000 residents and visitors have already been flown off the island since the fires began. If you have a flight to Maui booked in August or September that you wish to change, you are encouraged to contact your airline and revise your travel plans if needed. The airlines have all updated their travel waiver policies, with some extending dates into September or November.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has instituted a flexible travel policy for guests who would like to change or cancel flights to or from Maui. Currently, it is processing changes if your ticket was purchased prior to Aug. 11 and your plans are between now and Sept. 16.

American Airlines

American Airlines passengers can change their origin or destination to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA) or Lihue Airport (LIH) at no cost for tickets bought by Aug. 9 for travel originally scheduled through Sept. 16.

New flights must be booked for travel by Nov. 18 for the same cabin. Alternatively, passengers can cancel their originally scheduled trips and request a refund. This only applies to flight changes made by Sept. 16 for travel completed within one year of the original ticket date.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines has issued a change policy specific to flights in or out of OGG, HNL, KOA, LIH.

The fare difference will be waived when rebooked travel occurs on or before Nov. 18 in the same cabin of service as originally booked. A fare difference may apply when the waiver is class-to-class restrictive and the original booking class is not maintained in the rebooked itinerary. There are additional conditions and restrictions listed as well.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines travelers can reschedule their flights at no cost for flights in and out of OGG between Aug. 9 and Dec. 15 to new dates. There will be no change fees or fare differences on the same city pair and the same cabin of service.

Tickets can be booked for new travel to or from the following airports: OGG, Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA), Hilo International Airport (ITO), Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) and Lihue Airport (LIH). However, tickets must be rebooked into the same compartment (Main Cabin or Business Cabin) by Sept. 1; travel must occur between Aug. 9 and Nov. 16 or between Nov. 29 and Dec. 15. The airline notes that itineraries with travel outside these periods would not be eligible for a waiver of a fare difference.

Alternatively, these travelers can cancel their flights in exchange for a future flight credit, expiring one year from the original date of purchase. Those with flights booked to or from OGG between Aug. 9 and Sept. 15 can also request a refund . The request must be submitted by Sept. 1.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines customers with reservations to, from or through OGG between Aug. 9 and Oct. 17 can rebook in the original class of service or travel standby for free; this is as long as the new travel falls within 14 days of the original date of travel between the original city pairs.

Additionally, these customers can change their original departure or arrival flight to any of the below Hawaii airports without charge:

United Airlines

United Airlines is allowing travelers to reschedule trips and will waive change fees and fare differences for trips originally scheduled into Maui through Sept. 16. You can then alter your plans to travel by Nov. 18 at no additional cost to one of these airports:

If your new trip is after August 10, 2024, or is to a different destination, United will still waive any change fees, but you might have to pay a fare difference depending on the flight. Alternatively, if you cancel or don't take your trip, you can request a full refund .

What to do if you have a hotel or an Airbnb booked in Maui

Most of West Maui is still without power and has limited phone service, so you may not be able to contact your hotel directly to cancel your reservation. It is recommended to call the central reservations number for your hotel company. If you are unable to reach the hotel, your next best option is to monitor your specific hotel's social media channels and websites for any updates.

According to the latest statement released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority , hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations. Hotels are being used to house their employees and families, evacuees and first responders working on disaster recovery — more than 1,000 people so far, with more to come.

Additionally, vacation rental owners and operators and anyone with available space are encouraged to make these accommodations available to temporarily house displaced West Maui residents. Since Aug. 14, the state has offered a referral program to make those connections possible to support West Maui residents in need of housing, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority statement.

Hotels in the Kaanapali area have now updated their websites with further guidance. The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa added an alert that the hotel is temporarily closed and that cancellation fees will be waived through Sept. 15. The Hyatt Vacation Club at Ka'anapali Beach posted that all reservations through Sept. 3 have been canceled, and the hotel is allowing guests beyond that date to cancel or reschedule by contacting them. Any deposits and prepayments for canceled stays between now and Sept. 30 will be refunded.

If you booked a chain hotel directly, you can work with the corporate 1-800 number to alter your plans. If you booked through a third-party online travel agency or aggregator like Expedia or Travelocity, it's important to understand the cancellation policy. The OTA still owns your reservation prior to your travel , so contacting the hotel directly will likely result in you being referred back to the OTA or travel portal for assistance.

For those travelers who booked accommodations with Airbnb, the company has activated its " Extenuating Circumstances Policy " for parts of Maui. Eligible guests with reservations will receive a full refund, and both hosts and guests can cancel bookings penalty-free, the company said on Wednesday.

Will your credit card or trip insurance cover changes?

Generally, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance will cover nonrefundable expenses, such as airfare, accommodation and activities, if you need to cancel your trip (or the remainder of your trip) due to a natural disaster like the wildfires. However, credit card insurance policies can vary, so check the benefits guide for the card you used to book your airfare for specific exclusions.

Also, note that you must have booked your trip before the natural disaster starts in order to be covered. This means that if you booked a new trip today, it likely wouldn't be covered due to the wildfires already being labeled a declared emergency.

If you need to file a trip cancellation or interruption claim:

  • Check your credit card's benefits guide to see if you are eligible for coverage and what the limits are.
  • Call your credit card's benefits administrator, or start a claim online.
  • Determine which documents you need to collect.
  • Submit the documents within the required timeline.

"Many travel insurance policies can cover travelers who need to cancel or interrupt their trip due to a natural disaster, such as the Hawaii wildfires," Steven Benna, marketing manager for Squaremouth Travel Insurance, told TPG. "This can include cancellation coverage for travelers who are unable to travel because their destination is uninhabitable or under a mandatory evacuation due to the fires, as well as interruption coverage for travelers whose trips are cut short."

"However, travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen events," he added. "In order for coverage to be available, the traveler must have bought their policy before the fires began."

Depending on the needs of your trip, sites like InsureMyTrip and Squaremouth allow you to shop for plans that may fit your travel needs and compare coverage and pricing for multiple policy options at once.

Various membership associations, such as USAA, AAA and Costco, also offer travel insurance policies for purchase. Typically, these organizations partner with a specific provider, so you may want to compare the policies offered through the organization with other policies to get the best coverage for any future trips.

There's also a type of coverage referred to as "cancel for any reason" coverage . You might only get 75% of the trip cost back, so depending on the trip, it might not be worth the hefty premium.

Related: 4 times your credit card's travel insurance can help with travel woes, and 7 times it won't

What to do if you have a cruise to Hawaii

oahu travel maui fire

For cruise passengers, it's important to understand the cancellation or rebooking policy for the specific cruise line you will be traveling on.

Cruise lines might reroute to avoid Maui and affected areas. Per the terms of the cruise contract to which you consent before sailing, cruise lines do not owe you compensation if they alter your itinerary. If changes are made, you will be refunded for any shore excursions you booked through the cruise line that were to take place in the ports you're skipping. (Check with your tour provider directly if you've booked a third-party excursion.)

TPG's guide on what happens if a cruise gets canceled is the next place to refer to for guidance if you receive notice that your cruise is canceled.

A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line shared this statement with TPG regarding Pride of America, its Hawaii-based cruise ship that sails weekly on a seven-night all-Hawaii cruise from Honolulu:

We are deeply saddened to hear about the wildfires currently impacting the town of Lahaina in Maui. We have a very special relationship with the people and islands of Hawaii as we sail to the beautiful state year-round. It is a magical destination and one that is highly sought out by our guests for its natural beauty, culture and unparalleled experiences. We are closely monitoring the situation in Maui, impacting the west side of the island, opposite the Kahului Harbor, where we call. At this time, there is no impact on our scheduled itineraries. As always, our top priority is the safety and security of our guests and crew. We will communicate further updates as appropriate.

Princess Cruises offered the following statement:

Given the severity of these fires and their significant strain on local resources, Emerald Princess will cancel her scheduled call to Maui (Lahaina) on Monday, August 14, and will instead call to Kona.
As we continue to monitor the situation, we are actively reviewing the itineraries of our upcoming voyages. If any adjustments need to be made to our published itineraries, we will advise guests and our Travel Advisor partners.

Related: What happens if my cruise line changes my itinerary or ship?

How to help support Maui's recovery efforts

oahu travel maui fire

In collaboration with the Hawaii Community Foundation, state leaders and nonprofits, the Maui Strong Fund is accepting donations to assist with recovery and relief efforts.

"The Maui Strong Fund was created to provide community resilience with resources for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery," according to the Hawaii Community Foundation. "The fund is currently being used to support communities affected by the wildfires on Maui," with 100% of funds being distributed for community needs.

TPG and Lonely Planet have teamed up to donate $25,000 to the Maui Strong Fund, and if you also want to help, you can learn more about the organization and donate here .

Aloha United Way has established a Maui Fire Relief Fund on its website , and 100% of the proceeds are directed to Maui United Way. The organization's partner agencies — such as the Maui Food Bank, the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army — are distributing relief funds according to the community's most urgent needs.

Donating miles or cash via airlines

Hawaiian Airlines has updated its website with a message allowing loyalty members to donate HawaiianMiles, which will be used to transport volunteers and staff to Maui. Up to 30 million miles in donations will be matched by the airline for the month of August. You must log in to your account to donate.

American Airlines is also supporting the American Red Cross' disaster relief efforts, and American Airlines AAdvantage members can earn 10 AAdvantage bonus miles for every dollar donated to the Red Cross via its microsite . (Note there's a minimum donation amount of $25.)

Alaska Airlines has contributed 5 million miles to Kanu Hawaii and Maui Rapid Response, which are leading the efforts to relocate displaced Maui residents while they work to rebuild. Alaska Airlines will match the first 1 million miles donated by Mileage Plan members through Aug. 31. Donate miles to Kanu Hawaii .

Bottom line

This is a devastating, life-altering event for the people of Maui. The most important things to consider right now are the safety of everyone on Maui and efforts to help those affected by the disaster, both by considering tangible donations and allowing space and time for relief and recovery efforts.

Now that local government officials have released updated travel guidance, only West Maui communities are off-limits. Other areas of Maui are open and accepting guests.

Based on the updated information shared by the Hawaiian governor and the statement released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the economy would suffer without tourism in the Hawaiian Islands. They are encouraging travelers to consider visiting other areas of Maui, including Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Wailea, Makena, Paia and Hana.

Related reading:

  • Hawaii declares emergency due to wildfires, discourages all nonessential travel to Maui
  • Your flight is delayed or canceled: Here's what to do next
  • 6 real-life strategies you can use when your flight is canceled or delayed
  • 8 of the best credit cards for general travel purchases
  • The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance

Additional reporting by Caroline Tanner, Matt Moffitt, Erica Silverstein and Meghna Maharishi.


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