Hawaii is the #hashtag blessed of island destinations, with never ending demand that exceeds what the eco-tourism driven islands can offer. But therein lies the problem.
A never ending supply of visitors to a place with precious natural resources has to find a way to make things sustainable. In recent months, Hawaii has taken action.
A permanent ban on visitors was placed at a Big Island viewpoint often named one of the most beautiful in the world, and now a beloved park will limit visitor access with a reservation system.
Diamond Head Restricts Access
Oahu’s Diamond Head Monument, Lē’ahi, is having the same frustrating moment other major natural attractions around the world are suffering from. Everyone wants to visit — and few people realize how draining the constant slog of visitors, trash and infrastructure requirements can be.
Of course, overcrowding isn’t fun for visitors either. No one wants their big trip to an iconic place marred by selfie sticks and dodging bodies.
To help reinvest in vital infrastructure, natural resources and guest experience, the incredibly popular monument on Oahu will begin utilizing a reservations system for visits beginning May 12th, 2022. That is, for people without a local drivers license.
All visitors without a Hawaiian drivers license — shoutout McLovin’ — will be required to pay a fee and make a reservation, when reservations open, 14 days outside of a desired visiting date.
Reservations to Oahu’s Diamond Head Monument can be secured here.
Reservations to Diamond Head ‘Lē’ahi’ Park will cost $5 per out of state visitor, with children under 3 allowed free entry. Separate charges for vehicles entering the park will also exist, and non commercial vehicles will cost $10 per vehicle.
The park now joins a growing list of Hawaii’s most beautiful spots charging for entry and requiring reservations. But hey, it’s better than on Big Island, where visitors are banned from Waipio Park and the Valley Of Kings entirely now.
“The new reservation system will mitigate environmental impacts sustained by foot traffic, reduce vehicle congestion in the park and surrounding neighborhoods, improve the experience of kamaʻāina and visitors enjoying the monument,”
Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources
Balancing Tourism And Sustainability
Tourism brings commerce, business and jobs that creates sustainability within lives and communities, but it also brings waste, infrastructure needs and a level of damage to natural resources.
As sustainability discussions heat up globally, many countries are looking at the impact of tourism on the local communities and environments and weighing options.
Venice is largely “saying no” to large cruise ships, which bring tourist visitors who statistically do not spend at desirable levels, and also contribute the most waste.
Taxes have been added for ship visitors hoping to enter the city limits. In areas such as Santorini and Key West, similar proposals have been weighed.
Hawaii is the latest tourism hot spot seeking to balance dollars and damage to the environment, and visiting Diamond Head will now be a different experience. Maybe, for the better.