Maui News

Innovative Adaptive Tourism Management Underway at Hāʻena State Park on Kauaʻi

July 22, 2021, 9:25 AM HST
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Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources board signed off on a one-year revocable permit for Hui Maka’āinana o Makana to manage the reservation system to reduce the number of cars that enter Hāʻena State Park on the north shore of Kauaʻi. The HSP Master Plan caps daily visitation at Hāʻena to 900 people. 

One morning, in late June, a Kaua‘i Police Department officer wrote 25 parking tickets before grabbing another ticket book to write another 25. He was one of two officers ticketing car after car on this day. 

Rental cars had lined both sides of Kūhiō Highway adjacent to the Hāʻena Beach County Park and those ticketed get a $235 fine. Parking enforcement is one of the tools being utilized to achieve the goals of the master plan for neighboring Hāʻena State Park.

During a June meeting, the Board of Land and Natural Resources also signed off on a one-year revocable permit for the nonprofit Hui Maka’āinana o Makana to oversee and manage a reservation system, including collecting both parking and entry fees as well as an integrated shuttle system to reduce the number of cars that enter the park each day.  

“The legislation that increased previously low parking fines along state highways is an additional tool to reduce visitor industry congestion along rural roads adjacent to high demand state parks, like Hāʻena. This is a critically needed enticement to ensure that the capacity-driven reservation system is honored. People need to understand that there have been decades of negative impacts to rural communities. Visitors should not try to bypass the reservation rules,” said DLNR Division of State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell.     

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The north shuttle system has since resumed operations after a long COVID-19 shut-down. Department officials say some HSP parking lot spaces are reserved for Hawai‘i residents only. Out-of-state visitors have to make reservations in advance – even if they arrive at the park with a Hawai‘i resident.

  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
  • Image courtesy of Hawai’i DLNR.
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“To have a successful park entry system is a multi-prong effort. It is kind of like using the carrot and stick approach; increased fines and consistent enforcement for the no-parking areas paired with an exceptional shuttle service to increase access due to limited legal parking. This can be a successful formula that gives visitors an opportunity to come to the park in a pono way,” said Joel Guy of The Hanalei Initiative, which operates the shuttle system. 

Cottrell said, “There is no one recipe on how to manage sensitive cultural resources, sensitive natural resources, and a fluctuating visitor industry. We committed to providing parking spots for residents. We know slots available for visitors sell out daily, but there is no magic sweet spot for assigning those numbers. So, it’s a lot of watching and monitoring and working with the hui and shuttle system to manage the proper amount of visitation and to make it economically viable and sustainable…a lot of moving parts to work with and that’s the adaption part.”  

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