There are certain places in Hawaii where visitors are no longer welcome without significant advance planning. That is due to the need to protect these areas following years of over-tourism. The issue returned to the news recently because Kauai visitors are simply unaware of or are not heeding Haena State Park rules. Here are tips on planning ahead and being greeted with Aloha at three of our most popular parks.
1. Diamond Head State Park, Oahu.
Tips: Reserve up to 30 days in advance at https://gostateparks.hawaii.gov/diamondhead. The earlier, the better. Hikers arriving on foot must also have reservations. If you are willing to hike at times other than the most popular morning times, like afternoons (bring sunscreen), those reservation times may be somewhat easier to come by. Commercial tour and trolley patrons also need reservations.
Reservations are required for all visitors from out-of-state at Diamond Head State Park. This went into effect in May 2022 at what is one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks. It is the third Hawaii state park that requires reservations. Hawaii residents can access the park at any time without reservations on a space-available basis.
State DLNR said, “the new reservation system is intended to reduce hiker congestion along the narrow and winding trail to the summit, reduce the load on the comfort station and reduce vehicle congestion entering and exiting the sole access tunnel at Diamond Head.” Parking became a bad problem, as did trail crowding and damage. So reservations became necessary.
2. Haena State Park, Kauai.
Tips: Reservations open 30 days in advance and go quickly. Go to https://gohaena.com. If parking is not available, you may be able to score a shuttle reservation. Residents with Hawaii state ID can access the park for day use without reservations. If residents bring out-of-state guests, they will need to have reservations for the park.
The Kauai Visitor Bureau said this week that hundreds of cars arrive at the park daily, only to be turned away for lack of reservations. It has been three years since the requirement was added, largely due to damage to the environment and the lack of parking.
3. Waianapanapa State Park, Maui.
Tips: Reservations may be made up to 30 days in advance and no later than the day before your visit. Getting to the park found along the Hana Highway is a multi-hour adventure. Reserve at https://www.gowaianapanapa.com/.
Advance reservations have been required since 2021. That is true for both vehicles as well as walk-in entry. Reservations may be made up to 30 days in advance and no later than the day before your visit. Hawaii residents are exempt from both the fee and reservation requirements with proof of residency. When residents bring visitors, those visitors are still required to pay. The state DLNR said the systems “improved the quality of visitor experiences and have reduced impacts on adjacent communities and resources.”
Hawaii state park reservations and fees are coming to more parks.
The Hawaii state parks administrator said earlier this year that “We envision being able to modify this system for additional parks. The key element to crafting a reservation system, based on optimal capacity management, and improving the quality of experience, is to work closely with our parking vendors at park units where fee collection is already happening.”
Governor Ige confirmed that “the reservation system is an important part of the destination management action plan. We want to reduce the impact of visitors and really ensure that our residents have access to these desirable places. We can control the numbers of people who visit a particular place so they can more easily be spread out across the day.”