Kauai Beaches May Further Restrict Visitor Access

More Kauai Beaches May Soon Restrict Visitor Access

Access to Kauai’s beautiful beaches on the North Shore beyond Hanalei Bay to the end of the road at Kee Beach could become yet further restricted. That’s if North Shore residents get their way and move the state’s visitor management system for Haena State Park further south. Parking and visitor reservations for Haena State Park (which includes Kee Beach and the Kalalau trailhead), need to be made 30 days in advance and fill quickly. Because of this, visitors who could not get a permit often park nearby at Haena Beach, which is outside the restricted area. This new thought would bring Haena Beach and popular Tunnels Beach (both county beaches) into the Haena State Park system, which would stop most non-permitted visitor traffic beyond Lumahai Beach.

The state believes that the reservation, parking, and shuttle system in place there should serve as a role model for how to handle over-tourism at beaches and other sensitive spots in Hawaii. There are 10 other state parks that are currently being considered for a similar system to limit visitor access.

Hanalei Colony Resort could become the end of the road without a permit.

As it stands today, visitors can easily access Haena Beach Park, which is not state-controlled and is administered by Kauai County. That beach and nearby highly acclaimed Tunnels Beach already had minimal parking and other facilities. And that was before 1) the new Haena State Park reservation/parking/shuttle system went into place and 2) before the return of tourism to record high levels.

Outspoken North Shore residents hope to see the problem at Haena State Park remediated by including at least that beach in the state’s management system with Haena State Park. And in fact, that may well come to pass. The problem there is that Tunnels Beach, a 10-minute walk from Haena Beach, has even fewer parking and facilities. So could that also get included in the state’s reservation system? The answer isn’t clear, while the intent of many residents is. And the reality is that the parking situation at those beaches, which was bad before, has become completely unmanageable.

Popular Lumahi Beach, which is beyond Hanaeli, would still be accessible without a reservation, and also the Hanalei Colony Resort, which is close to Tunnels Beach.

Tunnels Beach and Haena Beach could become part of the state’s reservation-only system.

Visitors flock to Tunnels, also known as Makua Beach, based on mentions in every guidebook and on social media, among other things. It is one of the most popular beaches on the garden island and is renowned for its golden sand, beautiful clear water, exquisite mountains, and Bali Hai views, made famous in the movie South Pacific.

Finding parking at Tunnels Beach and Haena Beach Park, long a problem, has gotten far worse, to the point of being ridiculous. Visitors at this Kauai tourism “hot spot,” aware of the parking limitations, arrive early in the morning and stay until sunset.

Illegal parking is also a problem, and parking tickets are readily dispensed by the Kauai Police for any infraction.

Kee Beach, Haena State Park

Why is this being considered now?

While the idea of including some county beaches in the state’s control existed before, it was last week’s visit by Governor Green and others to the area that refocused the idea. The purpose of the visit was to mark the 4 year anniversary of the new reservation system. In order for the park to be transferred from county to state control, approval by the County and the State are still needed. Other issues need to be worked out as well, but that prospect, overall, isn’t too far-fetched.

During a press conference that took place last week, the state released its new “Transformation of Haena State Park” blueprint, which is attached below. Haena State Park’s plan is being considered as the model for other parks.

Resident-only access to Haena Beach Park.

A resident-only parking area is a measure that’s high on the list of considerations. Managing the area is complicated by the fact that it has become a hot spot for visitors while also containing many residential areas.

Haena State Park visitors reduced from up to 3,000 a day to just 900.

What was previously a seriously over-trafficked park approaching a million visitors a year and up to 3k cars a day has been pruned back significantly, with the focus being the limitation of out-of-state visitors. Those must now pay a $5 entry fee, $10 parking, and $35 for shuttle use. Limited parking reservations are available precisely 30 days in advance.

Haena-State-Park-Case-Study (1)

Leave a Comment

Comment policy:
* No profanity, rudeness, personal attacks, or bullying.
* Hawaii focused only. General comments won't be published.
* No links or UPPER CASE text. English please.
* No duplicate posts or using multiple names.
* Use a real first name, last initial.
* Comments edited/published/responded to at our discretion.
* Beat of Hawaii has no relationship with our commentors.
* 750 character limit.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

103 thoughts on “More Kauai Beaches May Soon Restrict Visitor Access”

  1. We have been regular visitors to the Hawaiian Islands for more than 30 years. We monetarily support relief efforts and charities such as local Food banks, hurricane/North Shore flood/earthquake/volcano/firerelief efforts and keiki initiatives. I didn’t have too much problem with reserving Wailua river for residents on Sundays. But I no longer feel welcome, with increased access limitations and kama’aina pricing. Many Hawaiians are outright hostile, no Aloha here (and honestly the worst are the haoles). You just want to funnel us into anything that requires us to spend money. I know if I don’t like it, I don’t need to visit. That is something I am seriously considering.

    1. The model has to change, housing ;vacation,rentals owners has to be in urban centers. And transit to the natural wonders and historic settlements. It will not happen but should.

  2. Wow, last there about 10 years ago and we drove right up to Kee. Also, glad I visited in the late 80’s. All of those places were uncrowded any day of the week. Reservations to go to the beach ? No thanks!
    Will not be going back to Kauai.

  3. Let’s face it people who live in Hansel’s and above want their own private island with no visitors. We live Tunnels Beach and own a time share in Princeville. Why not provide more parking?

  4. As a frequent visitor to Kauai, we always respect the local traditions and respect the local residents. We love the beaches and spend almost every day at one of them. I get the traffic issues and finding ways to help limit access. But it appears evident not just on Kauai but the other islands, that Hawaii residents hate U.S. tourist. If you continue to make it so difficult to enjoy tge sites, people will just stop coming and you can kiss the tourism dollars good bye. Can’t wait to hear how the North Shore residents will like increased State and County taxes to make up the difference. Let’s find a happy medium.


Scroll to Top