Pet-friendly Hawaii vacation

Dogs at Kapiolani Park Diamond Head
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Pet-friendly Hawaii vacation

“Can we bring our dog/cat along on a Hawaii vacation?” It’s a question Hawaii Aloha Travel gets frequently from people planning a visit to the Aloha State. The short answer is “yes”. The longer, more detailed answer is, “Yes, but it takes a great deal of time, research, preparation, patience, and, especially, a lot of money.” There are options. Those moving to Hawaii can opt for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s 120-day Quarantine Program. That’ll cost you $1,080 per animal. The 5-day or Less Quarantine Program runs $244. Neither are sensible options for a vast majority of Hawaii vacationers. But pet-friendly Hawaii is real, and it’s not at all impossible to “bring your dog.”

The Direct Release Program allows visitors to fly to Hawaii with their beloved furry family members and leave the airport with them. The requirements and documentation visitors must comply with (“micro-chipping”, multiple negative rabies tests, veterinary clearances, etc.) are many and exhaustive. Verified “service animals” and guide dogs” also face stringent requirements. But it’s doable if you are willing to spend the time and money it takes to bring your dog or cat along for your Hawaii holiday.

Dog on a pet-friendly Hawaii beach
Thinking about a Hawaii vacation? With your dog?

Pet-friendly Hawaii vacation planning

And for those who truly love their “fur babies” (that will be the last time I ever type those words) as family, it will likely be worth every penny and the multiple boxes checked. Think of the photo ops for family Christmas cards! More and more Hawaii hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals have gone “Pet Friendly.” The same goes for local businesses.

In “well, duh!” news, it turns out that pet owners are more likely to dine at your restaurant or shop at your store if their pets are welcome. Pet-friendly Hawaii is expanding.

Based solely on personal observation, many Oahu microbreweries and brew pubs are dog-friendly. My family has made a habit of heading to Waikiki Brewing in Kakaako for their Sunday brunch menu because they welcome dogs (and their owners, too, if they behave). My dog niece Ollie has made friends there, much to my sister’s delight, and I enjoy making new dog friends, too. Honolulu Beerworks and Aloha Beer Company nearby also welcome dogs (with the same caveat about owners).

Dogs on pet-friendly Hawaii beach
HAT Blog dog niece Ollie and friend on the beach.

Paying for your pet’s Hawaii vacation

While airlines, hotels, and businesses are moving towards pet-friendliness, it’s important to remember that it will cost more than just the required veterinary bills and Department of Agriculture fees. Figure $100-$200 on most carriers if your dog can fit comfortably in the cabin. Many “pet-friendly” hotel and resort properties also charge a per-night fee for dogs. (It must be noted here that Surfjack Hotel in Waikiki welcomes all dogs without additional room charges. Pet-friendly Hawaii!)

Just as visiting pet owners contend with “no dogs allowed” policies and restrictions at home, they’ll face the same pet policy challenges in Hawaii. Not all of Hawaii’s beaches allow dogs. The same goes for hiking trails. Getting out and about with your dog on a Hawaii vacation requires the same knowledge visitors have learned about the rules in their own home zip codes.

Two dogs on the beach
“Waves look good. Should we dog-paddle out?”

There is a reason that Hawaii is the only US state that is rabies-free: the strict quarantine requirements that have been in place for 88 years. The damage a rabies outbreak would have on Hawaii’s animal life, pets, and animals in natural spaces would be devastating.

Does the HAT Blog recommend bringing your pet along on a Hawaii vacation? Sure, if you can afford it. And only if you can meet each of the many requirements to the satisfaction of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. We are not dog owners (pet-free apartment buildings, alas), but we are dog lovers. The more the merrier! And furrier!