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Hawaii residents won’t need reservations to enter Hanauma Bay during new pilot program

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A new pilot program will allow Hawaii residents to enter Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve without a reservation.

The pilot program will start Wednesday and run through Aug. 8, the Honolulu Department of Parks announced today, as the city tries to accommodate residents while maintaining the preserve’s environment, which recovered during the COVID-19 outbreak while closed to the public.

“Although we have seen a slight uptick in the percentage of local residents enjoying Hanauma Bay compared to pre-pandemic numbers, we want to make this natural treasure even more available to kama‘aina,” said Laura Thielen, the director of DPR, in a statement. “While we are inviting more local residents to enjoy the bay, we are also reminding everyone that the capacity of preserve facilities, such as the parking lot and educational theatre, have not changed.”

Residents who go to Hanauma Bay during the two-week pilot program must show valid photo identification to prove their residency, and non-residents still have to make reservations online.

DPR in its news release said that the program will provide it with a sample of local traffic into the preserve without overloading it. It will also take place while Hawaii Department of Education schools are both in and out of session, as the school years starts on Aug. 3.

The data collected will be used to “adjust entry practices and continue system improvement.”

Scientists last year found that water clarity had increased substantially at the bay after months of closure. The city reopened Hanauma Bay in December with limitations on the number of visitors and days and hours of operation, also in an effort not to undo the preserve’s recovery.

In April, to accommodate a Honolulu City Council resolution, an online reservation system for the preserve launched to better monitor the number of people coming to visit.

With increased traffic to Hanauma Bay expected during the next two weeks, DPR is advising prospective uses of the preserve to consider arriving via alternate forms of transportation.

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