Winter hours begin today for seven state parks on Oahu. This notice caused me to question what hours other parks have, and whether the overnight closures affect beaches.
First, the easy part. Seven parks on Oahu have entrance gates that are open from 7 a.m.to 6:45 pm. during winter months. These parks are:
- Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, Aiea
- Malaekahana State Recreation Area, Kahuku
- Puu Ualakaa State Wayside, Makiki
- Sand Island State Recreation Area, Honolulu
- Waahila Ridge State Recreational Area, Honolulu
- Wahiawa Freshwater State Recreation Area, Wahiawa
- Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline including Makapuu Lighthouse, Honolulu
- Kahana Valley State Park (Coconut Grove), Kahana
These parks are under the control of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. Community parks and beach parks in other areas of Oahu are managed by the City and County of Honolulu. Some of these parks close at night but others do not. Each park has a sign listing hours if it does close. I was not able to find an online list of each park on the island and what hours it is open or closed.
If you are interested in a particular park, there is a helpful list on the honolulu.gov website. It shows the activities and amenities for each park in a drop-down menu. There is a disclaimer that the information may not be current, but it is helpful as a general guide. For example, the listing for Kailua Beach Park did not show it as having shade trees (which it does). But the listing for Laie Beach Park is instructive in that it lists only one activity or amenity: historic site. So don’t count on finding a bathroom or lifeguard nearby.
It took a call to the police department to find out whether the beaches themselves close. I asked specifically about Waikiki because most hotels are near there. Also, the city and state websites had warned that many beach parks do close at night so it is not possible to park there after hours, but that would not apply to Waikiki since most people arrive on foot. The officer who answered the phone assured me that the beach – the strip of sand next to the water – is open 24 hours.
So there you go. Some parks close at night, including ones that might look like the parking lot for beach access. If you’re driving, pay careful attention to any posted hours. If you are on foot and can access the sand without going through a beach park, you can enjoy the beach at all hours on a Hawaii vacation.