Volunteers exercise visitor education initiatives on the North Shore

HAENA — Amidst one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, a new resident organization on Kauai implemented visitor education initiatives to relieve the resurfacing pressures of tourism on the communities of Haena and Wainiha.

A new parks management strategy was implemented by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources for Haena State Park, and community members of the area are disappointed with the lack of adequate preparation previously promised by the state in anticipation for the return of visitor traffic, according to a press release from the new organization, Kuhio Highway Regulation.

Island visitors were unable to access the area for over a year due to massive landslides and immense water damage to the highway triggered by flooding in April of 2018.

Only registered residents were allowed to utilize the road through a convoy system during that time.

Kuhio Highway Regulation inventoried various areas of concern in the region from July 2 to 5. The group was able to identify the impacts of over-tourism on their resources, infrastructure and community.

Resident volunteers aimed to provide better on-site management and a higher-quality visitor experience recently by providing information, ensuring full awareness of specifics relating to the Haena Master Plan which aims to set parameters for visitors to these culturally and biologically significant corners of the island.

The group has summarized the situation as follows:

Although the intention by the state 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 organization’s release said.

The new Haena park management system has significant flaws including a lack of thorough visitor outreach, which leads to visitors being often completely unaware of the fact they now need a reservation and parking pass to visit Haena State Park, the group’s release continued.

Aimless transit on the narrow highway contributes to illegal parking, traffic hazards and overcrowding for the communities en route.

Residents intricately surveyed the entry point of Waipa on Thursday, July 4, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., gaining further insight on the specifics.

Of the nearly 400 visitor rental vehicles addressed between that timeframe, only 26% had a parking pass to visit the Haena area.

Many visitors did not know about the shuttle option and were frustrated by the fact that same-day reservations for the parking passes or shuttle service were not available, as they require prearranged reservations.

Many of the parking stalls at Haena State Park remained underutilized, with over half of the stalls designated for visitors remaining empty in the early afternoon hours of July 4.

Aside from lack of visitor awareness about the new parking-pass process, there is a sincere lack of compliance effort by the state, with the resident group observing and recording a plethora of illegal parking in the area, they said.

The Kauai Police Department refused to issue parking citations, noting conflicting signage in the area across Haena beach that sees overflow during peak visitor conditions.

Officers said they are waiting for the state Department of Transportation to remedy the signage issue so there are clear lines for enforcement.

Kuhio Highway Regulation provided active visitor education through the holiday weekend, providing information on specifics of parking, and hiking and camping permitting processes.

The group communicated availability of the North Shore shuttle service and the link for reservations, conveyed parking courtesies to prevent illegal parking, and stressed the importance of reef-safe sunscreen and ocean-safety awareness.

Kuhio Highway Regulation summarized their efforts as “urgent measures to ensure visitor safety and liveability for residents” according to Administrator Keira Oberg-Diaz.

A visitor code of conduct for the area and links to secure parking passes and shuttle services for Haena State Park are available on the website, www.KuhioHwyRegulation.com.

Anyone interested in assisting with their objective of enhancing visitor awareness and education may email aloha@kuhiohwyregulation.com.

  1. Terps Guy July 8, 2019 2:33 am Reply

    Why not provide effective notice at the airport?

  2. Uncleaina July 8, 2019 3:44 am Reply

    What we are seeing is the result of poor decisions mixed with poor implementation. The idea that we should all at once completely change how our parks all over the island work – referring to the online gohaena.com thing – and that all you need to do is mention it a few times in the paper is classic Kauai-thinking. They start out with rules, exceptions to the rules, no signage ready, a new shuttle but not enough off site parking.. on and on. Literally the definition of “ready, fire aim!” For example, what PERSON is in charge of this whole thing? There’s zero accountability because you have DOT, Kauai police, DNLR, DOCARE, the State park employees all involved but apparently no one at the wheel. Their cluster-thinking has created a monster and there’s no one who is held responsible. You create an elaborate system but don’t increase the support staff, don’t do outreach, and aren’t even enforcing your own crazy rules because you don’t even understand them yourself! Answer this one: how much should you have to pay if you’re a Kauai resident and you’re bringing your parents from the mainland into Haena driving their rental car? Do you need a reservation? Can you park their car in the slots reserved for local people? Yeah, I have no idea either.

  3. Mike July 8, 2019 4:18 am Reply

    The “Kuhio Highway Regulation” has a very officious-sounding name but is nothing more than a small group of highly entitled locals who are looking for cover to harass tourists by telling them that popular destinations like the Wet and Dry Caves, Cold Pond, etc. are of-limits to tourists because they are “sacred places”, and that if they enter, they will be “trespassing”, They are writing down license plate numbers and demanding personal, private information from tourists about where they are staying and where they are going, completely invading one’s personal privacy and one’s inherent right to be left alone. They are telling tourists that they cannot park at or even enter Lumahai Beach because it is for “locals only”, and are chasing them off. Instead of the “you can park here unless there is a no parking sign” that the rest of the world operates under, they are illegally telling tourists that they cannot park somewhere unless there IS a “you can park here” sign! Plainly and simply, they are harassing tourists, and doing so by appearing to be a government agency with police power. They are usurping government authority. They are engaging in racial profiling. This is not about visitor education, this is about keeping prime beach parking spots to themselves and kicking all tourists out of Haena. The County and KPD should figure this out quickly.

  4. kauaidoug July 8, 2019 6:08 am Reply

    I have been up there and the improvements are great and easy to see how much work has been done by the engineers, now if only the paper shufflers and others(who probably make 6 figures) could get their act together. Seems to me if they had just gotten in a car and pretended to be a visitor they would see how confusing it is to know where and how to park. THEY HAD A YEAR. Actually this is something that had been in the planning stages for years. Wonder when this actually would have come to pass. Who amongst us gets a whole year to figure out and plan a job? Not to mention they had plenty of input from the community to help foresee problems. Incredible. There should big signs warning of new parking initiatives. There were little pink signs, obviously not official, saying no parking, with a whole bunch of cars parked beneath them. Beautiful job on the road engineers, the rest, not so much. Example #1 state, local gov’t mismanagement.

  5. Keneke July 8, 2019 6:49 am Reply

    My Anti-Virus warned me about kuhiohwyregulation.com: When visiting this website there is a higher than average probability that you will be exposed to malicious links or payloads.

    Suggest KHR find out what is triggering the concern as many will simply not click once warned.

  6. gordon oswald July 8, 2019 9:14 am Reply

    One should google Zions National Park and see how they handle tourists within the park. This is exactly what should be done with some areas of Kauai. For instance, if you’re a non-resident, and you want to visit somewhere between Princeville and Kee Beach, you will board a comfortable shuttle bus that will stop and drop you and your family off at every location a tourist might want to visit along the way? A bus will arrive at each station to return you to your cars near Princeville every 15 minutes at each bus stop. Residents are allowed to drive into the area as before. https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/shuttle-system.htm Why not?

  7. Joe Maka July 8, 2019 10:28 am Reply

    Kuhio Highway Regulation cites a concern for safety. The road is safer than ever. Nowhere is truly “safe” in Haena or in the world. Visitors do not want to harm the environment. Haena State Park is not the only place to visit or park in Haena. Lumahai, Makua and numerous other spots may be their destination.

  8. barnsie July 8, 2019 11:08 am Reply

    Is this serious or a late April Fool’s joke in July? According to the ” kuhio highway regulation” website, cars will be “prohibited” from driving to and from Haena on windy and rainy days! How wonderful for the locals! Let’s prohibit sunny days as well! Since when has the County authorized any private party to determine when a public highway can be used? Of course, all of this nonsensical naked selfishness and NIMBY attitude is being cloaked under such high-minded language as “visitor safety”, “visitor education”, and “protecting sacred sites”. Basically, anyone who visits the North Shore and takes up a parking space is inherently disrespectful – and occupying their “sacred ground” and of course, in need of “education.” No doubt those who dare continue to visit the North Shore and who don’t get the message, that they are not welcome will be in for an even harsher “education” as time goes on. As for the organizers of this little charade, anyone who bothers to look will see that the Kuhio Highway Regulation is essentially a Hawaiian Sovereignty show, with the organizers usurping state authority to make their OWN rules. Those who don’t stop this are feeding the monster that will bite their heads off.

  9. North shore Kimo July 8, 2019 1:23 pm Reply

    When is the Kauai PD going to do their job and insure that this group of idiots doesn’t obstruct the free passage of individuals with a legal right to drive on that road.

    Are we waiting for a more serious confrontation with injuries?

    If you want to provide volunteer information services, great. Hopefully people will be respectful. If not, feel free to report those people breaking laws to the KPD. But you are not the law on the north shore and you don’t get to make your own rules. At the moment you are the ones breaking the law, and KPD should respond.

  10. dada July 8, 2019 2:16 pm Reply

    I think these people think they are god’s own chosen people, and that he custom tailored the catastrophy last year, for their benefit……..

    I guess the Hawaii DOT is not competent to judge road conditions?

  11. power tripping July 8, 2019 2:38 pm Reply

    the mayor is too busy judging beauty padgents to be bothered by the fact that militias are enforcing pseudo law within his county.

  12. HS July 8, 2019 4:57 pm Reply

    Keep it up Kauai! You will get your wish soon enough with tourist not wanting to visit due to the lack of Aloha!

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