The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) announced that advance reservations will be required for out-of-state visitors to the Iao Valley State Monument on Maui, starting May 1, 2023, when the park reopens following a nine-month closure.
Other state parks that require advance reservations include Waianapanapa State Park on Maui, Haena State Park on Kauai, and Leahi — Diamond Head State Monument on Oahu, as well as the City and County of Honolulu’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Reservations can be made online on the Hawaii state park website.
Our Analysis: Hawaii Is Actively Implementing Sustainable Solutions to Protect Its Cultural and Natural Resources, Along With Local Communities
Hawaii’s reservations system aims to protect natural and cultural resources and help prevent overcrowding — a win-win for client satisfaction and destination sustainability. The program also considers the wishes of the local community surrounding the valley, ensuring that they are not negatively impacted by tourism to the state. Best yet, this system rewards travelers who plan ahead, so clients who book with a Hawaii pro will not be impacted by this extra step.
We have already seen the positive impacts of the state’s reservations systems at other parks across the state, and this new system at Iao Valley State Monument will be instrumental in protecting the site’s natural and cultural resources while managing visitor capacity within the area.
Fast Facts: The Reservation System Is Part of a Greater Plan to Redefine Tourism in Maui
- The advance reservation system delivers on a top priority of Hawaii’s residents to manage tourism, as stated in the Maui Nui Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP).
- Iao Valley is connected to “Kanaloa,” the spiritual force affecting the life, living creatures and movements of the ocean. For generations, the remains of chiefs and priests were hidden in the valley to protect the “mana” (spiritual power) contained in their “iwi” (bones).
- The valley is also the site of a 1790 battle in the unification of the Hawaiian Islands.
- The new reservation system hopes to decrease environmental impacts in the valley caused by sustained foot traffic. It also hopes to reduce vehicle congestion in the park and surrounding neighborhoods.
- The parking fee is $10 per vehicle. The non-resident entrance fee is $5 per person (children 3 and under can enter for free). There are separate fees for commercial vehicles.
- Hawaii residents with a valid driver’s license or identification can still enter the park for free.
- Action B.3 of the Maui Nui DMAP calls for the development of reservation systems to monitor and manage users at natural resource and cultural sites.
- The Maui Nui DMAP is in its third phase of implementation and represents a collaborative, community-based tourism management plan to rebuild, redefine and reset the direction of tourism on Maui.
- Developed by the residents of Maui, and in partnership with Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, DLNR and other state and county agencies, the visitor industry and community, the Maui Nui DMAP identifies areas of need as well as solutions for enhancing the residents’ quality of life and improving the visitor experience.
What They Are Saying: Hawaii Authorities Are Urging Visitors to Plan Ahead
“We have already seen the positive impacts of the state’s reservations systems at other parks across the state, and this new system at Iao Valley State Monument will be instrumental in protecting the site’s natural and cultural resources while managing visitor capacity within the area,” said John De Fries, president and CEO of HTA. “Together with our industry partners and global marketing team, we are urging visitors to plan ahead when booking their trips and become familiarized with the new process. Mahalo to DLNR for their longstanding partnership as we work together to steward and protect our ‘wahi pana’ (legendary places) and improve the experience for everyone who visits.”
“We are grateful to DLNR for bringing this reservation system to fruition, to support the efforts to manage the flow of people in and out of Iao Valley State Monument, and make the experience more enjoyable for all,” added Sherry Duong, executive director for the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau. “One of our collective DMAP goals is to create sustainable tourism management models that benefit our people and place. This is another step in the right direction.”