Maui Visitors and Residents Square Off Starting Here

Maui Visitors and Residents Square Off Starting Here

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.

  1. Residents say they can no longer park at these locations because the parking is overcrowded with tourists.
  2. Tourists are incensed that they will need to pay up to $30 for beach day parking.
  3. Others have mentioned that if you can afford to come to Maui, the $30 means nothing.
  4. Whether free parking is extended to Hawaii residents other than Maui County is not yet resolved.
  5. 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.”

The theory.

“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.

Why now?

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.

What’s your take on Maui’s parking plans?

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306 thoughts on “Maui Visitors and Residents Square Off Starting Here”

  1. The official Maui Island Plan of 2010 said that tourism should not exceed 30% of the resident population. Currently it is at 45%. Reduce it back to the agreed upon limit and they can have free parking again. If the industry does not regulate itself, we will charge for parking and other things to limit the impact of tourism on us residents. If you don’t like it, then don’t come here.

  2. Please note that as a California surfer that loves all of Hawaii and especially Maui, I don’t love paid parking anywhere.
    However, it makes greater sense to help serve Maui County residents at the expense of visitors. Hopefully the funds acquired will actually be spent on Maui County projects that residents find appropriate.

  3. $30. Parking fee is extremely excessive, the mention that if u can afford to travel to Hawaii you can afford $30. is a bad statement.
    Everything in Hawaii is expensive, adding more costs to tourists is nit encouraging them to return.
    $10. is a more reasonable amount

  4. 47 years on Maui. I left 18 months ago. I was blessed to
    Live Maui when it was truly an amazing place to live. Not so
    Much now. It’s just to crowded and these types of solutions may kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

  5. This is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed. As a visitor, I would be willing to pay for parking, but not sure a $30 for full day is the best way. Are there some places where an off-site lot/shuttle could be used? An app that showed availability would be great. Thanks for the info in this article, and good lu k to the planners.

  6. Limit the number of visitors/tourist so it’s like it was 20 years ago!! That would be a better quality of life for everyone. But that won’t happen because of the way people think today. Disney used to limit the number of people at there parks so it wasn’t to crowded.

  7. Have been coming to Maui for the last 45 years and yes it gets more and more crowded. What’s another $30 in the big skeam of things. If I live there on a permanent basis that’s what I would want.

  8. Why not just charge an entry fee to the island at the airport for everyone. That way people that use the beach without card are not getting it subsidized by those with cars. Tourist feed the island with income why charge only those with cars. Not a fair solution. I can see added income but get it from everyone using the beach areas not just some. Typically you can think damage is caused by most that do not drive. Maybe so maybe not.


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