The Diamond Head State Monument will begin requiring advanced reservations for out-of-state visitors to enter the park starting May 12.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources announced today that Diamond Head will become the third park unit in the Hawaii state park system to require advanced reservations from non-residents.
Hawaii residents, meanwhile, may still access Diamond Head for free and without reservations, but entry may depend on parking availability.
“The new reservation system is intended to reduce hiker congestion along the narrow and winding trail to the summit, reduce the load on the comfort station and reduce vehicle congestion entering and exiting the sole access tunnel at Diamond Head,” DLNR officials said in a news release.
In addition, DLNR hopes to reduce parking issues in the urban neighborhoods surrounding Diamond Head.
Diamond Head, or Leahi, remains one of the most visited attractions in Hawaii, according to DLNR, with thousands of people each day hiking the historic, military-built trail to its summit to see the postcard view from the top.
During the 2019 winter holiday season prior to the pandemic, a record of more than 6,000 people visited the park in one day. Visitors generally exceed 3,000 per day, according to DLNR.
DSP also said its goal is to reduce access to the park during more congested times in the mornings, and to funnel patrons toward less crowded afternoon slots on particular days. Visitors will need to plan their hikes in advance, DLNR said.
The online reservation system will begin taking reservations on April 28.
The other two state parks with reservation systems in place include Haena State Park on Kauai and Waianapanapa State Park on Maui.
In 2020, entry fees for Diamond Head also increased to $5 per person (previously $1 per person for walk-ins), and $10 for parking (up from $5 previously).
The system will rely upon QR codes to confirm reservations in order to eliminate the exchange of cash at the entrance, DLNR said, as well as to reduce the time it takes to enter Diamond Head.
Visitors parking vehicles in the crater will be required to book two-hour time slots beginning at 6 a.m., with up to two consecutive slots allowed. Walk-in and drop-off visitors will be subject to one-hour entry time slots.
DLNR said arrival and exit times will be enforced to make room for the next round of visitors.
Reservations will also be required of commercial tour and trolley patrons using a separate reservation portal for registered carriers.
“The reservation system is an important part of the destination management action plan,” said Gov. David Ige in a statement. “We want to reduce the impact of visitors and really ensure that our residents have access to these desirable places. We can control the numbers of people who visit a particular place so they can more easily be spread out across the day.”