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. Is there no convenient public transportation? I haven’t been to Maui since the 90’s but I’ve been thinking about going to visit my brother and SIL.

  2. I am a resident of Maui, and avoid Paia Town all together these days, due to not being able to park easily. I avoid a large amount of beaches as well, due to the same reason. I am a big fan of charging for visitor parking, and believe this is one solution to the impact visitors have to our island.

  3. So if they had a fee for say one beach and pay $30.00 for the day and get up and move in say 2 hours is this fee move with you. Seems a very unfair way to collect some need cash to help look after the place Greed is getting in the way here I think. Metered time if anything would be fair Not a day rate as people move around!!

  4. Just went to Maui this summer. My prior trips were 20yrs ago. It was tough to find free parking but we managed to by getting up early. One of the lovely things about Mauiis the number of lovely beaches to explore. However a$30/day parking fee ( on top of all the other costs to travel there) makes me sad. It is so lovely that the state makes all beaches accessible to all (unlike private and restricted beaches in other states). But adding $30/day makes me think twice about another Maui trip. Glad I got to show my kids the island at least the one time.
    I do sympathize with residents who can’t access the beauty in their backyard. I suspect if I lived there I would absolutely avoid tourist filled beaches where I had to battle for parking

  5. I live on the big island and continuously see locals trash the beaches and parking lots. I’ve never seen a tourist throw garbage out of their car like a local. Aloha ʻĀina is dead.

    1. Hawaii is the first island I went to that I didn’t feel the Aloha. People were speeding and acting like people on the mainland. Sad to see things change.

    2. I have lived on the Big Island for several years now and have experienced the same thing. So sad to see many locals trashing their beautiful island home. On the other hand, the local friends we have made live quiet, simple lives, keep their yards and homes up and have been so welcoming to us haoles.

  6. Sad days in Maui.. why not put in a parking lot and bus that takes people to the beaches? Gouging the tourists is not the answer.. I’m sure the vacationers bru and city could come up with a better plan since hotel rates and car rental rates are at an all time high..

  7. i agree that the beaches are busy during tourist seasons…i have lived here 20 years and have been coming since careful you are not pandering to the locals that abuse the beaches and parks.the pot smoking families that occupy the parks on weekends, the fishermen that park all over the beaches with large vehicles…most locals do not spend that much time on the beaches..locals live here and have other things such as jobs and families and school functions and life in general to fight over parking spaces…just cut down on flights..

  8. This planet is several million years old. Maui does Not belong to one people more than others! Tourism is the Only industry this isolated state has. If you can’t afford to live here you need to migrate to a location you can afford a quality life. Happens all over the world. Kill tourism and you starve, support tourism and the prices escalate! Either way the toothpaste is out of the tube. It will Never be affordable again. That canoe has sailed!!

    1. Hawai’i is trying to change their reliance on tourism due to its detrimental effect on the lives of people who live here. If visitors cannot afford to contribute to maintaining and sustaining the resources that they utilize here, they are welcome to visit other beautiful places in this world.

      1. As a tourist I’m OK with paying tourist fees that help support the island. What I’m not crazy about i sparking fees that are just outrageous. These seem to be vindictive. You want to reduce tourism. Buy out the hotels, and time share owners, tear them down, open up natural areas, and reduce tourism and oh yeah tax revenue too! The tourists didn’t create these issues teh local politicians who made plenty of $$$ letting the reports build. Hawaii. Residents speak of Aloha spirit, well this ain’t that. I understand there are tourists that don’t respect the land, that is everywhere. We always try to respect the land and cultural, We try to learn more and see more of the island and its beauty. The parking fees are punitive.

  9. Hello,
    Hourly paid parking does encourage more of a turnover allowing for more open spots. I would not be opposed to locals having free parking for their own beaches. $30? Nah. Wouldn’t come.
    Thank you for your insightful information.


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