Kauai nonprofit monitors traffic on Kuhio Highway to assess visitor impacts on Haena State Park
A newly formed nonprofit intends to help regulate visitor traffic on Kauai after frustration with recent state and county efforts to reduce harmful effects around Haena State Park on the island’s north shore.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
A newly formed nonprofit intends to help regulate
visitor traffic on Kauai after
frustration with recent state and county efforts to reduce harmful effects around Haena State Park on the
island’s north shore.
Some Haena and Wainiha residents claim that too many tourists haven’t gotten the word that they need advance reservations to enter the park since the state
implemented limitations June 17 in conjunction with reopening the last roughly
2 miles of Kuhio Highway to the general public more than a year after devastating floods.
The group of residents, who formed Kuhio Highway Regulation, said they counted about 400 rental cars on the highway headed toward the park on July 4 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. about
4 miles away in Waipa, and that only about 100 of the cars had a parking pass to enter the park.
The group also said more than half of the visitor stalls in the park’s 100-stall parking lot were empty during the early afternoon that day,
and that Kauai Police Department officers were not citing a “plethora” of cars parked along the highway across from Haena Beach
because of conflicting state Department of Transportation parking signs.
“Although the intention
by the State of Hawaii to limit impact is honorable, visitors continue to traverse the stretch of rural roadway and its fragile infrastructure, only to be turned around at the end of the road due to a lack of reservation or parking pass,” the group said in a statement.
Kauai Police Department officials were unavailable to comment on the assertions made by the group Saturday.
Shelly Kunishige, a DOT spokeswoman, said Saturday it was her understanding that the no-parking restrictions from Haena Place to Kee Beach are being enforced.
Last month, some frustrated area residents physically blocked tourists from getting to Haena State Park for a few hours until police intervened.
Haena State Park, which features Kee Beach and also is the access point for the popular Kalalau Trail and Hanakapiai beach and waterfalls, has been subject since June 17 to state Department of Land and Natural Resources rules that require
all out-of-state residents to obtain entry vouchers that are available online through DLNR.
The system intends to reduce visitation to 900 people a day from an estimated 3,000 a day before the road closed in April 2018 for flood-related repair.
Nonresidents must obtain vouchers at least one day in advance but not more than two weeks in advance. Vouchers, which cost $1 per person, are required regardless of how visitors get to the park.
For those who drive, a
limited number of parking passes are available through the same DLNR reservation system at a cost of $5 per
vehicle. A shuttle service operated by Hanalei Initiative is also available.
On Saturday, the reservation system said no entry vouchers were available today through July 14, and parking passes were sold out through July 20.
Kuhio Highway Regulation leaders said they will continue their visitor traffic surveys and aim to provide better information to visitors.
The group is modeled
after a nonprofit, Hana Highway Regulation, which
the Hana Community Association started two years
ago on Maui to manage
tourist impacts on the road to Hana.
Thompson Aipa-Rivera, a Kuhio Highway Regulation volunteer, said members of the Hana nonprofit met with Kauai organizers earlier last week to share their expertise and help the Kauai group
become effective quickly.
“We need a solution now, instead of two years from now,” Aipa-Rivera said.
Keira Oberg-Diaz, administrator of the unincorporated Kauai nonprofit, said the
intention is to expand the
organization’s work around the whole island and help educate visitors about a variety of regulations and good practices, including not using sunscreens with ingredients found harmful to reef ecosystems.
“A lot of the visitors don’t know about the rules,” she said.
Kuhio Highway Regulation also established a website at kuhiohwyregulation.com that includes a “code of conduct” for visitors traveling to the area.