Updated: December 3, 2023
Following a nine-month closure, for slope stabilization work, ‘Īao Valley State Monument on Maui is scheduled to reopen on May 1, 2023.
The DLNR Division of State Parks announced the reopening saying it will also mark the fourth Hawai‘i state park to require advance reservations for out-of-state visitors.
Non-resident reservations are already necessary at Hā‘ena State Park on Kaua‘i, Diamond Head State Monument on O‘ahu, and at Waiʻānapanapa State Park on Maui.
The ‘Īao reservation system will mirror those used at Diamond Head and Waiʻānapanapa, introduced following the pandemic and were the result of overcrowding and a glut of commercial tours, according to the DLNR announcement.
“Based on input from visitors, while some continue to arrive unaware of the need for a reservation, those who do have them find an uncrowded park with the ability to explore and soak in the natural beauty without elbowing one another,” according to a DLNR news release.
Reservations at the four state parks now require visitors to do some advanced planning. DSP Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter hopes that with the addition of a reservation system at ‘Īao, and other parks slated to have them in the future, visitors will know well in advance of arriving in Hawai‘i that they’ll need reservations at some of the most popular parks.
“It’s been four years since we began booking reservations at Hā’ena State Park. The complaints from those who fail to secure them have steadily decreased and we expect with the addition of ‘Iao reservations people will become more aware of the requirement,” Carpenter said. “The true silver lining to these systems is the ability for local residents to return to these spaces they felt pushed out of for years by throngs of tourists.”
While there are no plans to require visitor reservations at all Hawai‘i State Parks, DSP is now considering a system at Mākena State Park on Maui.
“We’ve found visitor satisfaction is much higher when compared to pre-reservation days. It’s a way to effectively manage the number of people in parks across the day. It helps protect our natural and cultural resources from being loved to death and by spreading visitation out across the day people generally have a better experience,” said Curt Cottrell, DSP Administrator.
At Waiʻānapanapa, there are four different time slots throughout the day with 75-80 vehicles allowed in during each slot. “We do sellout a week in advance, and you have to download your reservation QR code before you get to the park, because there’s no cell service,” said Jayna Ho‘opai, another indication of the need to prepare in advance.
Advance reservations for ‘Īao State Monument open on Monday at 9 a.m. Hawaiʻi time, two weeks prior to the scheduled park reopening. All Hawai’i State Parks day-use reservations can be made at https://gostateparks.hawaii.gov. The parking fee is $10 per vehicle. The additional non-resident entrance fee is $5 per person, with no charge for children under three-years of age. There are separate fees for commercial vehicles.
“Hawai‘i residents with a valid driver’s license or State ID, continue to get into all of our parks free of charge, and we intend to keep it that way, as we move forward with adding new parks to our reservations system. However, any out-of-state visitor in a vehicle with a Hawai‘i resident still needs to have a reservation,” Carpenter said.