The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve opened as usual today following Sunday’s sudden closure due to a water outage caused by a broken water main on Kamehameha Highway, the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation announced Tuesday.
Sunday was also the last day of a two-week pilot program that admitted local residents to the preserve without reservations, in order to give DPR a sample of local resident traffic, and a look at whether increased visitor numbers during the pilot impacted a healthier marine environment resulting from the bay’s 8-month coronavirus closure, followed by reduced visitor numbers through a reservation system instituted Dec. 2.
“We are evaluating the pilot program for the time being to see if we can sustain something like this,” said DPR spokesman Nathan Serota.
Not to be confused with the pilot, he added, free, no-reservation-required, entry for Hawaii residents only during the first hour the preserve is open, from 7-8 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, will continue.
“We implemented this before the pilot program to accommodate the user groups who access the nature preserve on a regular basis, like the early morning swimmers, but it was not broadly publicized,” Serota said.
Asked what the parks department had learned from the pilot so far, “from what I saw coming in comment-wise, local residents were very appreciative and supportive of this opportunity, as supply and demand for the limited entry into Hanauma Bay made it difficult for some to get a reservation,” Serota said.
In addition, as before, approximately 25% of daily admission availability will be set aside for walk-in/drive-in visitors who do not have a reservation, regardless of residency.
Active duty military and their dependents must have valid Hawaii identification to take advantage of the first-hour, non-reservation privilege, and will continue to receive free entry with their military identification.
All other public entry will require a reservation using the online system at pros4.hnl.info/hanauma-bay.
Reservations become available online at 7 a.m. (HST) two days prior.
Vehicles will continue to be turned away from the entrance once the parking lot, whose capacity is about 280 stalls, is full.