First in a series of blog posts about Hawaii.
Hawaii has joined the list of places around the world restricting travel due to overtourism.
Such restrictions are becoming more common in areas of high historical or natural significance, including Angkor Wat (Cambodia), Machu Picchu (Peru) and Santorini (Greece), which are inundated with visitors, especially at peaks times like summer. Such places are limiting the number of visitors, regulating short-term housing rentals and increasing fees to preserve the very features and ambiance tourists flock to see and, in some cases, protect travelers who take high risks in the quest for Instagram photographs and social media clicks.
What does it all mean for you if you plan to visit Hawaii? Travel restrictions may require travelers to make some changes, including planning farther ahead, making reservations and paying new fees.
To help visitors understand why such actions are being taken, Hawaii has implemented various educational campaigns.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority recently rolled out the “Kuleana (responsibility) Campaign” for its eight islands. Short educational videos feature Hawaii residents talking about cultural etiquette, highlighting topics such as land and water safety, conservation and “pono (righteous) tourism.” Some airlines will show the videos on arriving flights and the Hawaii Tourism Authority can post videos automatically on visitors’ social media feeds thanks to geo-targeting technology.
Here are some island-specific highlights:
Earlier this month, Hawaii closed a cliff face in the Lihau section of the West Maui Natural Area Reserve for up to two years to protect native plants. Rock climbers had installed hardware and footholds into cliffs, affecting threatened and endangered plants, such as the Maui chaff flower and Menzies’ schiedea, according to the Maui News. Climbers who hiked through the area to reach the cliff also trampled West Maui’s only known population of yellow hibiscus.
Visitors to Maui can pledge to behave responsibly by taking the Road to Hana Code of Conduct. The 64-mile Road to Hana has 620 curves and 59 bridges that meander through broad beaches, dramatic cliffs, lush rainforests and waterfalls on the eastern side of the island.
Earlier this year, Oahu passed a law restricting the number of short-term rentals outside of their resort areas of Waikiki, Ko Olina and Turtle Bay.
On the island of Kuai, the number of visitors to its North Shore are limited to 900 a day and visitors must make advance reservations to go to Hā’ena State Park and Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. Hā’ena State Park is home to the trailhead for the Kalalau Trail, Kē’ē Beach and Hanakāpī’ai beach and waterfalls.
The new reservation and shuttle system began in June, when both state parks reopened after being closed for 14 months due to severe flooding. It’s part of Hawaii’s Hā’ena Master Plan to reduce overcrowding and better protect its resources.
You can book park entry, parking and the shuttle on the Ha’ena State Park Reservation website. The current fee for bicycle or walk-in entry is $1 per person. The current parking fee for a non-Hawaii resident is $5 per vehicle, which includes park entry. The North Shore Shuttle offers park-and-ride service, including park entry and a “Hop On Pass” to stop at sites along the way, from two locations (Princeville and Hanalei) for $11 per person.
Island of Hawaii
The Hawaii Visitors Bureau promotes safe travels by encouraging visitors to take the nine-part Pono Pledge to treat the island with respect and not disrupting the environment or endangering yourself or others. “I will not take what is not mine leaving lava rocks and sand as originally found” is an example.