Hawaii Visitors Not Welcome Without Advance Planning

Hawaii Visitors Not Welcome Without Advance Planning

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.”


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85 thoughts on “Hawaii Visitors Not Welcome Without Advance Planning”

  1. Sad, my dad is buried at Punchbowl and I dreamed of going back for a visit. Noticed over last 3 or so years it seems tourists are not welcome and being discriminated against . ( reservations required months ahead to go to certain places, including public beaches, restaurants, hiking trails, Haleaukuleau for sunrise watch, requiring a 30 day rental at an air bnb, and more.) I live in a town known for tourism ( rated high by Conde Nast) and know it comes with difficulties, but you must admit it has benefits also. I think your “ Aloha” has tarnished . Do you want to be part of the U.S. with benefits, or defend yourself from the next Asian attack.? Tourists have a right to visit w/out “playing your games” .I am sick of what you r doing

    1. I think South America or Europe sounds good.
      We had decided last year that it was our last. We have been coming to all the islands for nearly 20 years – different islands. Have loved it until this past year when we have felt unwanted and not welcome.
      Don’t have to tell me twice. Will go elsewhere and let the good folks here in Canada to side step Hawaii.

  2. With the exclusion of covid, I have visited maui from the east coast, every other year over the past 13 years. On all visits, I averaged 17 days of hotels, dining, activities and car rentals. Now the state has added daily parking fees, daily occupancy taxes, limited access to parks and other scenic locations. The governor is also planning to charge a $ 50.00 visitor fee for every non-resident. Without tourists maui and the other islands are doomed to occupnacy rates of the covid era and many more foreclosures and closings in the dining areas, small businesses, tourist activities. Based on my most recent stay in october, 2022, the luas, tourist boats, dining are less than 50% utilized and my fellow tourists are done visiting hawaii

  3. Having just returned yesterday from our two week visit to Oahu, we were anticipating a certain type of response from the locals.. however, we were pleasantly surprised that during our time in Waikiki, it was overwhelmingly a positive experience.. especially with locals and while riding the bus (first time we did not rent a vehicle).. da bus drivers were outstanding!! Locals were extremely pleasant,friendly and helpful with directions or suggestions..and in conversations in general.. we only had two minor negative experiences.. but compared to the 100s of interactions, it wasnt anything that would change our overall positive impression.. Overall, we felt welcomed and were glad to have visited.. we will definitely be back again..

  4. Susan, i could understand where you’re coming from, the “United States” are united as one. However, you don’t understand the history of how Hawaii became a state. I won’t explain, you do research and find out. Many native Hawaiians don’t acknowledge statehood, it’s still considered the Kingdom of Hawaii.
    Your “attitude” is why Hawaiians trade aloha for hate toward foreigners (mainlanders included). Plenty of foreigners are welcomed and in many cases even considered ohana. Because they have respect and understanding for/of our aina, our culture, our people, our lifestyle, and our history. Your view is saying ‘it’s my right, it’s my land too, what yours is mine.’
    You and all others that like this post need to do your homework!

  5. Be careful what you ask for. Turning away anyone is detrimental to a tourist state.
    I live in Moab utah. National parks went to reservation only. In my opinion a disaster

  6. The real problem is Hawai’is leadership. As a resident and someone who has been involved in the workings of our state and county governments, I can assure you that our banana republic government has no real clue how to deal with this issue. It’s sad really, Hawai’i is a hard place to survive and locals deserve representatives that are qualified and able to adequately address their issues. Instead, we have levels of ineptitude and corruption on par with places like Haiti. The Hawaiian people deserve better.

  7. Another money grab to screw the tourists. This has nothing to do with over-use of parks and facilities and everything to do with mismanaging the resources at hand. Inept management, lack of maintenance,and poor planning has lead to these ignorant restrictions and reservations. Maybe the state could impose an air, water, and sun tax for all who arrive to the islands.

  8. What goes around comes around, we have lot of folks coming to the lower 48 states for vacation like Las Vegas, California, Colorado how will they take it when everything will need 30 days notice to visit scenic areas and we smack them with horrendous visitor fees??? We no longer put Hawaii on our place to vacation it is cheaper to go on a cruise and see other countries and they are Happy to have anyone and everyone!!! Hawaii will regret this!!! People have had enough and it is all about greed and money !!! Enjoy your state!!!!

    1. I think that if anyone anywhere had visitors coming and not respecting your home or land, perhaps it would be a bit clearer! Hawaii is not for folks who don’t get it! Love the exclamations!!!

      1. We lived on Oahu for 18 months and the worst part was trying to go visit areas because of the mobs of tourists. We never climbed Diamond Head because we couldn’t find parking. Unlike other tourist destinations there is no off season, so the throngs of tourists is a year round issue. I applaud the state for taking action.

    2. I disagree. I have lived on Kauai for over 40 years and I have seen the overuse of certain areas of Kauai for years. Yes, there is mismanagement of state funds and the maintenance of the parks could be much, much better. But many states and many other places in the world charge or have reservations for people to see/visit special sites and there is nothing wrong with Hawaii doing the same. When certain spots have been overused, the only way to thin out the crowd is to have a reservation system or a charge. There are many, many other beaches and sites on Kauai that tourists can go to that have no advance requirements and have plenty of room for everyone to enjoy themselves.

      1. The problem is other state parks charge the locals as well as visitors. It’s the us vs them mentality that is discouraging visitors.

    3. Right now in Washington state you can only reserve a state park camping spot 9 months in advance. Reservations start at 7:00 am and if you aren’t Johnny on the sopt you won’t get one. I hear it’s that way with national parks to. It’s the way things are.

  9. Seems the hotels or resorts need to do a better job of telling their guests what the rules are ahead of time to help avoid these sort of problems. Though the fees are kind of a moving target that are much discussed but but only implemented at some, to be determined, future date.

    1. Not every visitor is staying in hotels. Why can adult tourists not inform them about what to do when on the islands?
      When I visited Hawaii for the first time in 1986, I read tourist books about the destination – today everyone has internet access.
      If you book through a travel agent or tour operator, they should ask about your interests and advise accordingly.

      Last but not least, some people may still show up even when being told that they need a reservation.
      There is something like personal responsibility and as long as access is available to local residents, reservations are not an undue burden


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