Maui has great resorts and many of them. It also has a large and much-improved airport, and the Valley Isle succeeded in attracting the most flights (including widebody) to Hawaii of any airport other than Honolulu. But now it has clearly become too much of a good thing. So what happens next and will there ever be a way to make everyone happy?
We’re focusing today on what is happening at some of the iconic Maui beaches, as well as in Lahaina, Wailuku, and soon thereafter, Hana. In the next few months, Maui will implement substantial visitor-only parking fees and limit hours of visitor parking entirely, at a range of popular beaches. The final start date of early 2023 is still being devised together with some further specifics outlined below.
Is it the money or the idea that stings visitors the worst?
We’ve had hundreds of comments about the plans for paid beach parking on Maui, and they have included various ideas.
- Residents say they can no longer park at these locations because the parking is overcrowded with tourists.
- Tourists are incensed that they will need to pay up to $30 for beach day parking.
- Others have mentioned that if you can afford to come to Maui, the $30 means nothing.
- Whether free parking is extended to Hawaii residents other than Maui County is not yet resolved.
- Comments have mentioned that charging a $30 flat rate encourages visitors to park for an extended period. In contrast, paid hourly parking (such as at Honolulu Zoo, for example) encourages those parking to leave sooner and make space available for others.
$30 beach parking for visitors. $0 for Maui residents.
The price range for parking may vary by location, season, and other variables yet to be set forth. The citations for violating the new parking rules also have not been announced.
The county locations included in the initial roll-outs include the following. These were confirmed last week by Maui County Council’s Vice-Chair.
The county said these locations were chosen partly because of the ease of implementing parking kiosks.
- Kamaole Beach Park I
- Kamaole Beach Park II
- Kamaole Beach Park III
- Ulua Beach
Other locations being discussed, likely with hourly rates:
- Paia Town
- Hana Town
- Lahaina Town
- Wailuku Town
The parking website says Maui’s “new parking management program strives to implement forward-thinking solutions for parking at beach parks, in business districts, and on streets throughout our island’s most heavily utilized areas.”
“When parking demand clusters in certain areas, parking policies can mitigate congestion and improve access. Strategic investments in technology will streamline parking management and transform parking into a customer-friendly component of the overall transportation system.”
In other words, start charging now in the worst areas; raise prices as demand dictates until the desired reduction in vehicles occurs, then expand the program incrementally as quickly as feasible.
Maui has more than 3 million visitors a year. The sheer magnitude and the lack of adequate infrastructure mean residents cannot easily access the island’s parks and beaches. PARKMAUI says, “Lahaina and Paia have become so unpleasant for residents to find parking, many have stopped going, and Wailuku has long suffered from a parking shortage.”
It’s been nearly a decade that the Valley Isle has been looking for ways to better manage congestion, initially in Wailuku and Lahaina. Subsequently, it became clear that the effort should be greatly expanded to include most beaches and parks.
Much like on Maui, beaches on Oahu and Kauai find themselves simply without parking much of the time. Examples are Kailua and Lanikai beaches on Oahu, Tunnels Beach, and Hanalei Beach on Kauai.
Highlights of the new parking program:
Maui County residents who register will have free parking at Maui’s parks and beaches at all times, as well as 1-2 hours of free parking and/or discounted parking in Lahaina and Wailuku.
Non-residents must pay for parking at Maui’s parks and beaches and in those two towns. Parking passes will be available online or via mobile app or pay stations. It sounds like the app may not be available at the program’s roll-out. Thus kiosk-based payments may be visitors only option.
The program hopes to be financially sustainable, reinvesting the revenue into various, unspecified County resources and programs.
State parks and beaches are not included.
Hawaii state beaches, including Makena Beach and Waianapanapa Beach, are subject to state rules and fees and not those from the county. Waianapanapa State Park, for example, charges $5 per person plus $10 per vehicle.
New PARKMAUI program.
What is your take on Maui’s visitor parking plan?
Since your editors are residents of Kauai County, we, like mainland visitors, may be subject to these new fees. We’ll have to give it thought before paying $30 for beach parking at Kam III on the next trip to Maui.
Pilot paid parking at Maui beaches.
Maui’s Ulua beach and Kamaole I, II, and III Beaches will have parking equipment installed. This will be evaluated during the first 90 days of operation, and changes may be made subsequently to enhance the program.
After that, paid visitor parking is planned “throughout South and West Maui beach park locations as timing, funding and permitting allows.”
Pilot paid parking at Lahaina and Wailuku towns.
In Lahaina and Wailuku, visitors compete with employees and residents for limited parking. Additional small-town parking fees will be implemented as soon as possible.
The announcement of the final plans is forthcoming.
Next week the Maui County Council’s Infrastructure and Transportation Committee plans to meet to finalize the terms of the measure. We just learned that residents might initially be able to insert driver’s licenses into the kiosks as proof of residency. Later, the app will be rolled out and will offer pre-registration for parking. The app is said to advise on parking conditions so that users can know in advance whether or not parking is likely to be available.
A new “parking ambassador” rule is being designed for those who will be handling parking enforcement.