Hawaii’s State Department of Land and Natural Resources has made significant improvements at a number of State Parks over the past year. The closures and the near-complete loss of visitors to parks during the pandemic created a unique opportunity to use that time to make the parks more accessible to visitors, and to implement strong new sustainability practices.
Over the years, the Diamond Head State Monument has seen a steady increase in visitors to the park. Vehicle traffic and pedestrian safety within the park had become problematic. The trail to Leahi’s summit had become degraded. Changes that have been made at the park include improvements in those areas of concern. In 2019, the park saw 1.2 million visitors.
Haena State Park on the Garden Isle of Kauai was devastated by historic flooding in 2018, and officials have since sought to make improvements in the park. Parking restrictions and a reservation system were implemented.
The virtual disappearance of visitors to the park during the pandemic allowed further improvements to be made. Now, residents and visitors alike can enjoy the almost mystical beauty of the park that had nearly been lost to unchecked growth in the number of visitors to the park in recent years.
The DLNR has also made changes at Waianapanapa State Park on the Valley Isle of Maui intended to make the park safer, and to limit the “footprint” of visitors to the park. A reservation for residential and individual tourist vehicles is scheduled to launch at Waianapanapa in April.
If there are any upsides to the ravages brought about by the pandemic in Hawaii, one of them is certainly the fact that the many various players in Hawaii’s tourism sector have been forced to re-examine tourism’s impact on Hawaii’s communities and its natural resources.
This has resulted in a strong push toward making Hawaii tourism more sustainable. It has created opportunities for Hawaii visitors to engage more actively with Hawaii’s indigenous culture, and with its unique multi-cultural heritage.
As the Aloha State slowly and cautiously emerges from the pandemic (our case numbers, positivity, hospitalization, and death rates are among the lowest in the country), future Hawaii visitors can look forward to an improved visitor experience. Hawaii is moving closer to a balance between the economic necessities of our tourism industries and the needs of our residents, their communities, and the resources we all rely on.
Contact us here at Hawaii Aloha Travel to plan your vacation of a lifetime. The return of respectful and educated visitors to Hawaii is a vital component of moving Hawaii into the post-pandemic future. Let us help you become a part of it!