HANA — Some people who live in east Maui say the famed Road to Hana is becoming a gridlocked maze of illegally parked cars driven by tourists.
Residents are asking for state and county help to address the traffic and parking problem, Hawaii News Now reported Thursday.
Maui has seen an influx of visitors as pandemic restrictions have eased.
The drive to Hana is among the most popular tourist activities on the island. Now that 8,000 visitors a day are arriving on Maui, the narrow, winding road is getting jammed.
The coastal roadway brings visitors past waterfalls and sea cliffs along a rural and lush Hawaii rainforest. The people who live on the remote shoreline are among the most geographically isolated in the state.
Officials say between 400 and 600 people drive the road each day. The state recently installed signs warning people of parking fines. But residents want a more comprehensive traffic plan.
“We know our visitors are important to our economy. But there comes a time where you really start to look at the numbers,” said east Maui resident Kamalani Pahukoa, who often sees traffic jams and illegally parked rental cars. “That becomes a problem to our quality of life, traditions, culture and access.”
“We here out in east Maui do not have the resources for the demand,” Pahukoa said. “We await government officials support and funding towards visitor management plans to simply make sure that our visitors go home safely and to ensure that the quality of life of our community members are protected.”
Even tourists notice the crowds.
“There’s a lot more people than expected,” said Jackie Ridenour, a visitor from Oklahoma.
Officials should consider “restricting how many people are going out to Hana in a given day,” said Lauren Armstrong, the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive director.
Toll roads and reservation systems are among the ideas being looked at, Armstrong said.
“Requiring reservations to go to certain destinations out in Hana can limit the number of people that are going,” she said.