I was hiking along Kuliʻouʻou Ridge Trail in East Honolulu when I got the text.
“Aaand they just closed Nā Ala Hele trails.”
Last week Hawaiʻi officials launched restrictions to travel and outdoor activity as a way to combat the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, primarily on Oʻahu. Beaches, parks, playgrounds, campgrounds, skateparks and other outdoor spaces are now closed through Sept. 5, and the 14-day mandatory quarantine for interisland travel has been reinstated through the end of the month.
What was not closed were hiking trails.
That is, until yesterday.
In response to 12 consecutive days of triple-digit new coronavirus cases in Hawaiʻi—most of them on Oʻahu—the state Department of Land and Natural Resources decided to close all trails in state forest lands on Oʻahu now through Sept. 5.
“While we know how disappointing (this closure) is to many people, we all must accept these temporary inconveniences until the coronavirus surge is no longer an issue, for the safety and health of everyone in Hawai‘i,” said DLNR chair Suzanne Case in the announcement.
A collective groan was heard all over social media, the common complaint: “What can we do, then?”
We’re here to tell you! (And it’s not just walking around your neighborhood.)
Even though beaches are closed, the ocean is not. You are allowed to cross beaches and parks to access the ocean for exercise, including surfing. Dust off that old longboard and get in the water. New to surfing? Book a lesson with a reputable company like Faith Surf School, which offers 80-minute lessons in Waikīkī starting at $75 per person.
Explore the Waikīkī Aquarium
In last June, the Waikīkī Aquarium reopened with new health and safety restrictions. You have to buy tickets online, in advance. There are new clear acrylic barriers at the front desk and gift shop. And everyone is required to wear face masks and keep at least six feet apart. A maximum of 50 guests are allowed into the aquarium at any given time.
Visit the Honolulu Zoo
The 42-acre Honolulu Zoo in Waikīkī is open during this partial shutdown—but there are changes to hours and safety protocols. You can only walk through the zoo following a one-way path and some enclosed exhibits limit the number of people inside. The playground, bird sanctuary and petting zoo are closed.
Restaurants are still open—and if you’re not keen on eating indoors, there’s a slew of eateries with outdoor dining areas. Have a languid breakfast of banana mac nut pancakes, short rib loco moco or its signature scones at Waioli Kitchen & Bake Shop in lush Mānoa Valley, which has outdoor tables under a canopy of trees. Banzai Sushi Bar in Haleʻiwa offers lānai-only seating for your sushi cravings. And Merriman’s Honolulu opened its Merriman’s Street Burger and Beer Garden pop-up concept in July with burgers, hot dogs, Mexican street corn, New England clam chowder with bacon, house-made ice cream sandwiches and local brews from Waikikī Brewing Co. and Paradise Ciders.
Cook Your Own Gourmet Meal at Home
Everyone’s cooking at home these days. And some restaurants—like M by Chef Mavro Restaurant—are providing all the ingredients and recipes you need to create your own gourmet meat at home. For $125 (feeds four to six people) you can order the M Gourmet CSA Box, which comes with a bounty of locally grown produce and proteins, and other items (butter, sauces, marinade) that you would need to whip you restaurant-quality dishes in your own kitchen.
SEE ALSO: HAWAIʻI in the Kitchen videos
Browse a Farmers Market
Farmers markets are considered essential business, so these remain open—and that’s good news for you! FarmLovers Markets have markets in Haleʻiwa, Pearlridge, Kakaʻako and Kailua every week. In addition to locally grown produce, find fresh pasta, local coffee, vanilla beans, handcrafted foods and plants. BONUS: Pets are allowed!
Hit the Waterpark
Only open four days a week (sometimes five) with shortened hours, Wet ’n’ Wild in Kapolei is a respite from the pandemic. This 29-acre waterpark boasts more than 25 exhilarating attractions, including a multilevel complex with water cannons and slides just for kids. Check the website for current hours and deals.
Walk Around Bishop Museum
The museum reopened in late June with new protocols in place to keep everyone safe, from requiring all visitors to wear face protection to encouraging social distancing. The museum will also limit the number of visitors to 500 at any given time. It launched new "outdoor museum" experiences, a selection of offerings, activities and events that will allow visitors opportunities to learn, play and enjoy being outdoors on its 15-acre campus. (Yes, the indoor exhibits will also be open, including “Mai Kinohi Mai: Surfing in Hawaiʻi,” which has been extended through March 28, 2021.)
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