Hawaii continues to grapple with over-tourism. As a result, we’ve seen a variety of coping strategies, most of which revolve around fees and reservations. And that’s exactly how officials plan to control crowds at one of Oahu’s most popular sites. Of course, that means Diamond Head is to require reservations for visitors.
Before the pandemic, Leahi (Diamond Head) saw up to 6,000 visitors PER DAY. This level of visitation is unsustainable, causing increased erosion on both the trail and the historic structures that are part of the entire hike. Of course, this many visitors also creates a lot of traffic around the area too. So, what are we to do? Well, looking at the success we’ve seen at Hanauma Bay, Haena State Park, and Wai’anapanapa State Park, officials decided to implement a reservation system at Leahi.
Diamond Head to Require Reservations
According to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the goal of the new reservation system is to, not only limit crowds but to also better spread them out throughout the day. Officials say that most visitors currently visit during the morning, worsening congestion issues. Thus, by limiting the number of people in the park at one time, it forces people to spread out their visits.
So how does the reservation system work? It isn’t live yet but will be similar to what we see at other state parks. Reservation windows open 14 days out. For visitors entering Leahi on foot, you can reserve slots in 1-hour increments. Visitors that drive in can reserve slots in 2-hour increments. DLNR officials state that visitors that need more time can reserve two or more consecutive slots. And that’s an important option to be mindful of. There’s no word on how they’ll do it, but officials state that they will enforce the time slot limits.
Of course, with the new system comes a new entry method. To gain access to the park, visitors will need to present a QR code they receive upon successfully making a reservation. This QR code will also show proof that you paid for your entry. Current entry prices are $5 for those entering on foot at $10 for those entering by car.
I get it, having to make reservations like this is a pain. However, from a visitor’s perspective, I’d rather have to do a bit of advance planning to ensure that I can get it that the free-for-all it is now. Plus, the smaller crowds will definitely improve the whole experience. The only problem comes from a lack of planning on not being able to get in. But, I’d like to think that those that really, really want to go will plan appropriately.
So when does the system go into place? May 12, 2022. It’s also worth noting that Hawaii residents will not need to make reservations. However, residents will only be able to drive in if ample parking is available. If not, you’ll need to walk in.
…there should also be designated parking for residents, and not just a handful, as we all know there will not be ample parking available.
Island Miler says
You’d think. But, I’m sure they’d rather prioritize paying visitors!