Visitors Confused: Kauai Beach Protests + Maui Beach Rules And Fees

Visitors Confused: Kauai Beach Protests + Maui Beach Rules And Fees

Visitors and residents want their share of Hawaii’s beaches. And the beaches, in terms of non-commercial use, are open to everyone without restriction. But Maui has found one way around that, while Kauai now sees protests reminiscent of the Superferry days at Kalapaki Beach in Lihue.

On the surface, these may seem similar and negative toward visitors.

The latest Kauai protest has people with Hawaiian flags on the beach right in front of visitors who have rented beach chairs and umbrellas. But we see that something else is going on. There are two sides to an issue, and it’s important to know both before passing judgment. Even we were confused prior to some investigation including contacting multiple parties involved.

Visitors Confused: Kauai Beach Protests + Maui Beach Rules And Fees

What’s wrong with Kalapaki Beach’s commercialization?

According to Sue Kanoho, Executive Director of Kauai Visitors Bureau, a company named Kauai Beach Boys does indeed have a valid permit to rent chairs and umbrellas at Kalapaki Beach. Recently, however, the company preset a large number of chairs and umbrellas on the beach before a giant cruise ship docked in order to be able to accommodate a influx of visitors. That would be against their permission to do so. And the protestors, who put up Hawaiian flags in front of the visitors and have vowed to return, were upset that the public beach was being taken over, making access more difficult for locals and visitors who were not paying for Kauai Beach Boy’s services.

What got picked up by the press led us to the impression of anti-visitor protests by Native Hawaiian groups. We don’t see that at all. As one Kauai resident said, she “would go there for canoe races” (since childhood). And that now, “you can barely get the spot that you want.” Looking at the photo above gives you a better idea of the issue with so many chairs and umbrellas on the beach waiting for customers and cluttering the beach. Those chairs and umbrellas are only to be placed there when someone has actually rented them.

The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources is the agency in charge of that beach, and we were unable to reach them. Commercial ventures on the beach itself are typically strictly regulated.

Contrast that with Maui’s resident-only beach parking and $30/day visitor fee.

Only visitors will be required to pay at South Maui’s Kamaole Beach Parks and Ulua Beach beginning early next year. Parking will be completely free for residents registered with the county using the PARKMAUI program. Now as Kauai residents, it is unclear whether we will need to pay when visiting Maui beaches. That is yet to be determined. Fees will be set by season, peak hours, and other factors, ranging from $10 to $30. Collected fees go to the Maui DOT. Hopefully, it will be used to fund beach park improvements and maintenance.

Many of you suggested that a better option would be hourly parking. That would discourage people from parking all day, so more residents and visitors could make use of the parking.

Visitor Gary just lamented, “We have been going to Maui once or twice/year for 20 years… We will now face a new visitor “tax,” new parking fees at beaches, and denied access to some of our favorite beaches until after 10 AM (earlier is way better for snorkeling for visitors). Aloha has increasingly been replaced with a feeling we are impositions-ironically on a lifestyle only affordable with tourist dollars, I suspect. We will now go less, if at all.”

Jennifer said, “We loved Hawaii. It’s obviously one of the most beautiful places on earth. But what really gets me is all of the articles, new policies, and laws, etc., that are anti-tourist. It seems like all I hear is how much they don’t want tourists. I just think it’s odd that they have adopted locals-only hours for beaches and other such practices.

Now it’s your turn to sound off.

In the meantime, we are heading to Kalapaki Beach this afternoon to see what is happening. This post will be updated later if there are any new developments.

Inline photo 1:
Inline photo 2: Megan Wong, Facebook.
Lead photo at Kalapaki Beach Kauai

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167 thoughts on “Visitors Confused: Kauai Beach Protests + Maui Beach Rules And Fees”

  1. I am in full support of the Native Hawaiians protest of the pre-set chairs/umbrellas at Kalapaki Beach. I was there in 2019 off a cruise ship and we walked over to the beach and spent an afternoon there to relax. What was great about it was it didn’t feel over commercialized or crowded like Waikiki, for instance. I told my mother I would come back to Kalapaki again and again as it felt like the Hawai’i I remembered when I lived on Oahu as a child.

  2. Maybe start with banning billionaires from buying the land (or in one case a whole island) and cruise ships!! The homeless situation is causing more harm to the environment than any tourist just drive around!

    1. A cruise ship is how I found this beach. Fortunately most of the other cruisers were doing other things and not crowding the beach. We were respectful and fully enjoyed the serenity and lack of overdevelopment & commercial feeling of beaches like Waikiki. It boils down to people/travelers need to be respectful of the islands.

  3. What I find interesting is the base cause of concern that have initiated all of the changes, anti tourism. Everything is aimed specifically at making access to the Beaches, initially, penalizing to anyone who is not a resident and then Protesting in front of the Cruise Ship passengers on the beach for a few hours of respite. Hopefully tourists will choose differently in the future leaving Hawaii a Distant, Desperate, Memory and Hawaiians will finally pay their Fair Share! Shameful Behaviors.

    1. The same can be said for hotels that are on the beach front. By law, they’re suppose to provide public access to the beach. Some only provide parking for guests staying at their hotel or maybe couple public spots.

      So are hotels anti local?

    2. Not really sure what you mean by ‘fair share’. Those of us who live here definitely pay more than visitors to be able to live here. We just want to protect what we have because this island is our home, not our vacation get away.

  4. I am a tourist I come once a year. But my son has lived here for 15 years and raised his children on Kauai. And I do agree with the locals this is their land and what I’ve seen of all the tourists at least a majority of them sadly to say they’re rude they’re disrespectful they don’t care about the land or the animals that share the land with the locals. So in my humble opinion I truly believe that the locals should have a say what goes on in their land and beaches. And maybe if the tourists were a little more respectful and humble when they come to places like this it would be a more welcoming place.

    1. Unless I missed something Hawaii is One of Fifty States. Access to Beaches is a Guarantee for Everyone, no one specific owns them. Their Island is Public Property and that allows Everyone to use it. To Penalize non Hawaiians can be done through Fees, however, if My rental car has Hawaii Plates I’m Not Paying. Before too long the Tourism Revolt will effect everything in Hawaii, then Taxes on Residents will take there toll. No more Free Ride on the Evil Tourist’s Backs. Resorts will put an end to this eventually.

      1. Some resorts are actually part of the problem. There shouldn’t be commercial operations on public beaches when it infringes on the publics'(residents) usage and enjoyment. If it’s a rental car, you’ll be paying the fees, just like we do when we travel off island.

  5. As a frequent visitor to Hawaii but not a resident I find it sad that so many beaches have become commercialized. I hope that the spirt of ohana and welcome I have always felt in coming to Hawaii can be regained.

    1. Not until they have been Forced to Realize exactly Who Pays the Bills. Some Hawaiians believe Tourism should go away. During Covid the Federal Government tossed money around to keep people happy, they won’t be again. Where’s the money to keep things going? Out of work Taxpayer’s will be forced to Pay or lose their homes, no bail out coming. Just remember that Tourism is a Bad Thing and not needed!

      1. I’d just like to be able to visit my brother, who is a resident, once in awhile without being considered an invader. It’s a beautiful place and I wish to be respectful.

  6. My question is who gave the chair and unbrella company a permit? Unbrellas and chair services need to stop on any beach. Look at what has happened in Greece. The beaches are so over crowded there is no where to just sit on the sand.

  7. We have enjoyed sitting at JJ’s Broiler, unfortunately now closed, watching local surfers and wake boarders at Kalapaki Beach. I think sometimes local companies like Kauai Beach Boys should be blamed for the problems too frequently are put on the shoulders of the tourists. I hope the Kauai Visitors Bureau rectifies this.

  8. I live on the main land and I love visiting Kauai and the great state of Hawaii. I do understand the local people and the major influx of tourists is upsetting and more of an invasion but federal tax dollars pay for the beaches. I live in an area close to the beach and face similar situations. Come together and educate visitors. I have witnessed some visitors doing horrible things, they need to be confronted and educated.
    It’s unfortunate that some people lack respect. On that note, keep Kauai beautiful. Thank you

  9. I have not been to Hawaii in nearly 9 years and when I was there last I do not recall all of this debate. The Islands were beautiful and I had no bad experiences with locals or other tourists. Affording to go back has been one of the reasons I have not returned. I understand locals wanting to preserve the environment and not wanting too much crowding. I don’t see more and more fees as being the solution. I have traveled to Belize in the past as well. There the governent requires you have a tour guide to go to any of the prime natural places (myan ruins, the Blue Hole, national parks) that tourists want to see. Maybe Hawaii could find a way to do similarly and save it’s treasures from being over exploited.

    1. The Vocal Opposition has been a direct result of Covid. With almost zero tourists “Some Locals” have had the good fortune of being off of work and enjoying the freedom. With Tourism back they have been Causing Trouble, Complaining like spoiled children, Demanding Tourism to go away. It is something very new and Hostile. Aloha was burned at the stake with its ashes thrown to the winds never to be experienced again! Suggest trying out other beautiful destinations where tourists are wanted and respected.

  10. Tourism carpetbagging has become a serious problem for residents in popular beach venue destinations such as Hawaii and Florida. The early days of beach vendors in Florida were controlled by organized crime syndicates making their first forays into the tourism industry. It isnt much different these days as the industry is saturated with money laundering and exclusive contracts for popular beaches. These commom similarities result in a major loss of quality of life for residents. Most tourism destinations do not balance the impact of tourism on residents thus the similarities in residents response. Hawaii and Florida are controlled by tourism interests not residents and they are revolting similar.

    1. Wow, only noticed the problem being with Hawaii. Never heard of or had any problems in Florida. The Only problems in Florida were at Spring Break Destinations and now many are not allowing it. Other than that previous problem there Isn’t Any! Hawaii should Flounder, it Needs to realize the Reality of the situation. Only then can this be put into context and perhaps we can move forward.

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