HAENA — It’s going to be different for Kauai residents trying to get to Kee Beach for sunset or take a weekend hike to Hanakapiai.
Haena State Park has been closed for more than a year while the state Department of Land and Natural Resources revamps the place — bringing to fruition the Haena State Park master plan as a way to recover from the April 2018 floods.
It’s not open yet, but new rules are being outlined in preparation for Monday’s scheduled opening of not only Haena, but Napali Coast Wilderness Park, Kalalau Trail and Kuhio Highway.
And while there are exceptions for Hawaii residents on fees and reservations to enter the park, even state officials admit there might not be enough space set aside for locals.
Currently, there are 30 spaces set aside for Hawaii residents in the Haena State Park parking lot, with about 70 set aside for reserved parking. Visitors are required to reserve parking and entry to Haena and pay the entry fee online.
That number includes those available for Kauai residents.
That’s meant to limit the number of daily visitors allowed in Haena State Park to 900, far less than the estimated 3,000 people that had been visiting daily. Still, with 900 people every day filtering into a parking lot with about 100 stalls, there’s going to be a line.
“It is the intent to have adequate parking available for the anticipated local patronage,” said Dan Dennison, spokesman for DLNR. “However, the number of parking spaces may not provide a space for everyone who intends to visit the park.”
He points out the floating number of parking spaces withheld for Hawaii residents is accessed on a first-come, first-served basis and can be used without online reservation.
Nonresidents in a car will need an entry ticket to get into the park — those are reserved online.
If you don’t have a valid Hawaii ID, you’re not getting into the park without that online reservation, and you’ll have to pay the nonresident entry and parking fees.
In the spirit of trying to make sure local people can access Haena, state officials say the plan is flexible and they’ll be keeping track of usage with potential rule change if things don’t work.
“As data is collected on use patterns of Hawaii residents and visitors, State Parks may adjust the ratio of parking spaces held back,” Dennison said.
The other option is taking the new North Shore Shuttle, set to start next week.
As a Kauai resident, your options are three: take a chance on landing one of the floating parking spaces for Hawaii residents; go through the state’s online reservation system and book a spot for yourself and your car as if you were a visitor, or take the North Shore Shuttle.
“We completely understand this is a new process for many,” Dennison said.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org