Wai‘anapanapa State Park access requires a pass starting March 1
Seeking black sand beaches and popular parkland of Wai’anapanapa State Park? Reservations launching online today are now required for visitor and commercial operator access starting March 1.
Visitors and commercial operators will be charged fees ranging from $10 to $50 per vehicle for parking and $5 per person for entry via foot or bike, according to a state Department of Land and Natural Resources news release. Hawaii residents with state ID or driver’s license don’t need reservations and will have free entry and parking, with stalls held to accommodate residents.
Beginning today, the state-managed reservation system goes live at www.gowaianapanapa.com. Reservations must be made two weeks in advance; no same-day reservations will be available. Visitors making parking reservations will be required to select a time slot to spread out visitation across the day.
Wai’anapanapa State Park is the second state park in Hawaii to require reservations and the first to integrate commercial tours into its reservation system, the release said. The Maui system launch follows Kauai’s Ha’ena State Park reservation system implemented after the 2018 flood. The state said the system is credited with “bringing serenity back” to an impacted area by establishing limits on the number of daily visitors.
As a response to rural East Maui residents seeking reprieve from high traffic and increased crowding, the new state system will help manage traffic flow into the area, according to state Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English, who has been facilitating with state Rep. Lynn DeCoite the East Maui Reservation Project, an effort to mitigate over-crowding in East Maui after COVID-19. The year before the pandemic, visitor numbers reached a record high in Maui County.
“This is a new way to better manage the impacts of tourism on our local communities and I look forward to working with DLNR to implement these types of systems in other areas of my district,”English said in the release.
During an East Maui Reservation Project meeting online last month, English and DeCoite, whose districts include East Maui, said they heard from residents that they don’t want to go back to pre-pandemic crowds, which deplete area resources, clog traffic and challenge parking.
“The rest of Maui County, Mayor Victorino has been very supportive of this and so has the visitor industry because it’s so outside the box,” English said at the meeting. “They understand we need to do something new with the tourism industry.”
Wai’anapanapa State Park fees effective March 1 are: out-of-state visitor parking, $10; walk-in, bike-in or drop-off entry, $5 per person. Commercial vehicle parking slots: one-to-seven passenger vehicle, $25; eight-to-25 passenger vehicle, $50.
DLNR Division of State Parks administrator Curt Cottrell said the new Wai’anapanapa State Park reservation system balances State Parks’ “critical need for revenue” with commercial tours paying a “fair rate” for their park use. It also helps the state adjust patronage numbers to reduce crowding and other impacts on the park’s sensitive resources.
“Also, and just as important, we can reduce the impact on our neighbors,” he said. “As a former resident of Hana, living right next to Wai’anapanapa, it feels good to support a process that will help my former neighbors. Quality over quantity is our new target in management.”
For information on DLNR Division of State Parks for Wai’anapanapa, visit https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/maui/waianapanapa-state-park/.
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.