How Dog Friendly is Honolulu, Really?

It’s a good life in Honolulu, even for dogs, but getting your dog there from the mainland U.S. requires, well, jumping through some hoops.

Hawaii is the only rabies-free state in the U.S., and there are strict quarantine regulations about bringing in dogs and cats (they must be at least nine months old) to keep it that way.

Follow a detailed program of rabies vaccinations and tests before you leave home, and you may be able to pick up your dog straight from the plane or within five days (if necessary, dogs board at a quarantine facility). Don’t do all that ahead of time and your dog will be quarantined for 120 days, no exceptions. It takes at least four months before your dog arrives in Hawaii to complete all the requirements, so don’t delay.

The quarantine facility, if it comes to that, is clean and comfortable for dogs and you’re welcome to visit and play with your animal daily.

And once you get past all that, your dog is going to love it. Because really, what’s not to like?

Dog-friendly beaches

He or she can play freely in the ocean at Kailua or Lanikai Beaches, where the sea is usually pretty calm, but needs to be on-leash while on the sand. Same at Waikiki’s Duke Kahanamoku (Fort DeRussy) Beach, where dogs are welcome to run on the ocean side of the high-tide line but must be leashed while on the sand. There are other dog-friendly beaches, too. Take water for your dog, find some shade, and remember their paws burn on hot sand and asphalt just like ours.

Dog parks and hiking

Or maybe your dog prefers the park. He or she can run free at dog parks near Ala Wai Elementary School, Diamond Head Road, and in Hawaii Kai, Moanalua and Mililani. And dogs on a leash are welcome at a long list of parks around the island.

And what dog doesn’t like to accompany its person on a hike? Dog-friendly hiking trails include Makiki Valley Trail (1.1 miles each way), the 2-mile Waimano Valley Loop or the gorgeous Manoa Cliff Trail (2.3 miles each way), which has a waterfall at its end.

Happy Monday! #sadieexploresHI #aloha #monday #poidog #doglei

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Restaurants and bars

More than 100 restaurants in Honolulu welcome dogs at their outdoor tables, including Nico’s at Pier 38, the brewpub Gordon Biersch at Aloha Tower Marketplace on Honolulu Harbor, Ward Centre’s Mocha Java Café and Town (where Michele Obama once ate, though she didn’t bring the First Dog) in Kaimuki. Hawaii Doggie Bakery in Manoa bakes dog treats without salt, butter, sugar or preservatives and using only local ingredients.

This is how I Saturday #waikiki #labradoodle

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Lodging and transportation

Your small dog can travel on The Bus, as long as he or she is in a carrier no larger than 18x18x12 inches.

And when it’s time to turn around several times and drop right off to sleep, your dog is welcome at Aston’s Hotel Renew (up to 20 lbs.; doggie beds available); Pagoda Hotel (one small dog only); and the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa (maximum two pets under 75 lbs. each or a total of 150 lbs.). Other hotels accept pets too; check with the hotel regarding details.

The Modern Honolulu, in Waikiki Beach, gained some acclaim as a dog-friendly hotel when Fenway Bark, a photogenic labradoodle with more than 53,000 Instagram followers, stayed there with his person.


Leslie Lang