Surfers, beachgoers push for earlier access to Hoʻokipa amid parking concerns
August 21, 2022, 9:46 AM HST
Citing concerns over safety, surfers and beach enthusiasts are pushing for earlier access to parking at Hoʻokipa Beach Park along Maui’s North Shore.
Resident Justin Edwards tells Maui Now that he has been advocating for safe parking for two years now, since the start of the pandemic, and often sees cars lined along the Hāna Highway, “forcing people to unload their cars and cross the busy highway, often in low light conditions, or with the sun directly in their eyes.”
“My biggest concern is the safety of my children because crossing the highway in the early light can be terrifying as a parent. My other concern is for the community, the traffic situation caused by this is obviously unsafe. It is only a matter of time before we have a major accident related to this,” said Edwards, who often goes surfing with his wife and two boys, ages 10 and 11, before work and school.
County officials confirm that hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and lifeguards are on duty from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the location.
Maui County Spokesperson Brian Perry responded to our request for information via email saying, “Maui County’s Department of Parks & Recreation is considering a pilot program at a popular beach park to help evaluate the impact of expanded hours. The mayor supports expanding park hours, but any change first requires a cost analysis, changes to Administrative Rules, and a mutually agreeable plan with the union and the Department of Fire and Public Safety for staffing changes.”
Maui Police Department spokesperson Alana Pico said the department had not received any calls for service regarding safety conditions in the area, but will have patrol periodically monitor the area between other calls for service.
According to Edwards, the parking situation escalates when there’s a swell at Hoʻokipa, with the crowd arriving up to 30 minutes before first light.
“The busiest times are when there are waves, and then nearly a hundred vehicles are parked on both sides of the highway by sunrise,” said Edwards, noting that in addition to surfers, tourists often arrive early to view the turtles in the morning.
“My family likes to visit the ocean before school and work because it is the best way for us to start our day,” he said. “Crossing the highway with my children in the morning is the most dangerous thing we do, and that is crazy when there is a perfectly good parking lot available.”
In addition to concerns over hazardous conditions for pedestrians and motorists, beachgoers have also expressed concerns over potential theft.
Perry said, “The top consideration is always the health and wellbeing of our residents, but budgetary and operational impacts must be fully understood before changes are made.”
Ho’okipa Beach Park is described as “one of the top spots for ocean sports and recreation in Maui,” a “Mecca for surfers of all ages,” and “the home of contemporary surfing,” according to the County of Maui Parks Department facilities website.
The park is located at Mile 9 along the Hāna Highway, and has 36 spaces in its lower parking lot, and about 40 spaces in the upper lot at the East end of the park.