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Taking a dog to Hawaii
Can I take a dog to Hawaii? What about a cat? I get these questions a lot, and I thought it made sense to write a post giving you all the details about taking a pet to Hawaii.
If you’re used to traveling with your furry friends, you might wonder, “can I take my dog to Hawaii?”
The answer is, maybe, but it won’t be easy. Here are a few things you need to know about bringing pets on a Hawaii vacation.
- Hawaii is a rabies-free state.
- The state has stringent rules to keep the state rabies-free.
- Hawaii isn’t necessary a pet-friendly destination.
Just as a note: I am primarily using the word dog throughout the post, but you can apply this information to cats as well. This post was last updated in March 2021.
How hard is it to take pets to Hawaii?
If you plan on taking a dog to Hawaii, or cats to Hawaii, you’ll need to start the process several months in advance. You can’t simply purchase a plane ticket and leave.
You can plan on the process taking a minimum of 3-4 months and it would be a good idea to give yourself 6 months to be safe.
Fortunately, in the last few years, the rules for bringing a dog to Hawaii have become more relaxed, but they are still very strict.
For the most updated information, make sure to check out the State of Hawaii’s Animal Quarantine Information page.
Animals that are not allowed in Hawaii
Some animals are not allowed in Hawaii, period. These animals include:
- ferrets, hamsters, and gerbils
- piranhas, snapping turtles, bearded dragons
- snakes and most reptiles
- toucans and monk parakeets
Non-domestic dogs and cats and hybrids such as wolf, wolf cross, Dingo, Bengal, Savannah, etc. are also not allowed in Hawaii.
If you’d like to learn more about the animals that are in Hawaii, check out the ultimate guide to Hawaiian animals.
“Regular” dogs and cats are permitted in Hawaii, but there are a lot of rules that you have to follow to bring them.
Many airlines also have restrictions on what types of dogs and cats can fly. For example, a lot of airlines do not allow “short nose” breeds due to health concerns, so make sure to check which airlines will let your pet fly.
It’s also important to note that the cost of bringing a pet on a plane to Hawaii can wildly vary by airline. At this time, Alaska Airlines has the best pricing.
After the Hawaii shutdown in 2020, rules are even more strict so make sure to check with the airlines well in advance.
What to do before taking a dog to Hawaii:
1. The dog must have two rabies vaccinations (at least 30 days apart) with one administered no more than 90 days before departure.
2. Your dog must have a microchip before the FAVN test. Your vet must ensure that the microchip is working correctly, as it will be rechecked upon arrival in Hawaii.
3. The dog must have a blood serum (OIE-FAVN) rabies test result with > 0.5 U/mil level of rabies antibodies. Your vet can send a blood sample to one of two labs (Auburn University or the University of Kansas) to obtain this test.
4. There is a 30-day pre-arrival waiting period between the time the lab receives the blood sample and the earliest date the pet may enter the state under the program.
5. You must have a health certificate for your pet from an approved veterinarian. This certificate must be issued within 14 days before arriving in Hawaii. The dog must also be treated for ticks and fleas at this time.
6. The dog will be inspected upon arrival to Hawaii and must have no ticks or fleas.
7. All of your paperwork (and there will be a lot!) must be received more than 10 days before your arrival in Hawaii.
Bringing a dog to Oahu
Your pet must arrive at the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport during inspection hours (8:00 AM-4:30 PM.)
Bringing a dog to Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island
If your pet is traveling directly to Kahului, Maui; Lihue, Kauai, and Kona, you have to follow additional requirements for entry.
These include getting a Neighbor Island Inspection Permit issued by the Department of Agriculture, showing it to the airline, and submitting documents 30 days or more before arrival.
You must also have a vet meet you upon arrival, which is an additional cost.
For example, in Kauai, you only have one choice which is a representative from the Kauai Humane Society. It costs $450 for this part of the process alone and $250 for any additional pets.
How much does it cost to bring a dog to Hawaii?
As you might imagine, the cost of taking a dog to Hawaii will add up. In most scenarios, it will cost over $1000 per pet for everything that you’ll need.
That is the cost before you pay extra for a pet-friendly place to stay.
The next part of bringing a dog to Hawaii is that Hawaii is, for the most part, not a very pet-friendly vacation destination.
There are quite a few pet-friendly hotels in Oahu, but pet-friendly hotels are minimal on the other islands.
Most vacation rentals are not pet-friendly either. This is because most condo complexes in Hawaii are not pet-friendly.
If you decide that you want to bring your dog to Hawaii, it’s best to secure animal-friendly lodging before starting the rest of the process.
One thing that I have noticed that most websites do not mention is the extra fee if your animal is not flying into Oahu. I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again.
You will have to arrange with someone from an approved veterinary hospital to meet you for the inspection, which can cost anywhere from $250-$500 per pet.
Bringing pets on a Hawaii vacation
There aren’t very many places that allow animals in Hawaii. Animal-friendly activities vary from Island to Island, but most State and National Parks do not allow dogs.
There are plenty of dog parks on Oahu and a few beaches that allow dogs on the other islands. Unless you’re staying on Oahu, you’ll be quite limited.
Maui seems to be more pet-friendly than Kauai or the Big Island. The Big Island comes in dead-last for pet-friendliness.
Make sure to do extensive research about where your animal can go before bringing a dog to Hawaii.
Alternatives to taking a dog to Hawaii
If you can board your dog with a trusted friend, relative, or veterinarian, you can still enjoy playing with dogs during your vacation!
The Kauai Humane Society offers a Shelter Dogs on Field Trips program. Shelters on Maui and the Big Island offer similar programs.
If you’re thinking of adding a new animal friend to your family, consider adopting a dog or cat in Hawaii.
Due to the lower population on all islands but Oahu, the chances of dogs and cats being adopted on-island are slim.
Rescues on all islands depend on transfers and visitor adoptions to give homeless Hawaii animals a forever ohana.
Adopting a new pet is a big step, but if you’re planning on doing it anyway, consider adopting an animal while you’re on vacation.
Moving a dog to Hawaii
Most of the same rules will apply if you’re considering moving your pet to Hawaii. For either the long term or the short term.
However, it’s important to note that it can be challenging to find pet-friendly rentals. If you plan to move to Hawaii with pets, make sure to start planning well in advance to secure pet-friendly housing.
You’ll also want to be extra careful to follow all of the rules. You want to prevent your pets from being quarantined!
Planning a Hawaii vacation
Hopefully, that gives you the information you need about bringing a dog to Hawaii. Now, you can decide whether or not it’s right for you. If you’re planning a Hawaii vacation, I have Hawaii travel guides for all four major islands.
- How to plan a trip to Oahu.
- How to plan a Big Island vacation.
- Planning a Maui vacation.
- How to plan a Kauai vacation.
You might also want to check out some of my most popular blog posts:
- 20 things you should never do in Hawaii
- 10 things to know before going to Hawaii
- What is the best luau in Hawaii?
- How much does it cost to go to Hawaii?
- Is Hawaii safe?
- 50 things to do in Maui
- Do you need a rental car in Hawaii?
- Pros and cons of a Hawaii cruise
Although I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am only taking on a few clients for 2021. You can contact me if you’d like more information. I would recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
The best way to get Hawaii travel tips and the most current travel information is to sign up for my email list. I send out one weekly email with the latest news, travel deals, and more. Sign up below.
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