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Reservations to hike Diamond Head can be made 30 days in advance

Department of Land and Natural Resources

It’s been two months since the state began requiring visitors to make reservations two weeks in advance to hike Diamond Head, or Lēʻahi. All out-of-state visitors, including commercial tour and trolley riders, need a reservation to enter the crater.

As of Monday, July 18, visitors can reserve a spot 30 days in advance. Also, automatic refunds are now available for those who need to change or cancel reservations. Entry is $5 per person and $10 per vehicle.

"We did set a capacity and it's roughly 3,000 a day. So there's a capacity of walk-ins per hour, and a capacity of vehicles every two hours. And so even though 3,000 sounds like an awful lot, when you spread them out, across 12 hours of being open, it really has changed that experience overnight to a much more serene one," said Alan Carpenter with the Hawaiʻi State Parks Division. "There's really no more lines, there's no more bad traffic. And so it has, honestly, it's changed the character. We've created a much higher quality experience for the visitor."

Carpenter stressed Hawaiʻi residents with valid identification are welcome to Diamond Head without fees or reservations. Visitors accompanying Hawaiʻi residents are not exempt from the entry fees and must purchase in advance.

"It's almost guaranteed for a local resident to come and get a parking place, and just go up whenever they want," Carpenter said. "I'd be shocked if you ever get turned around from this point moving forward."

Carpenter said the parks division collected $515,000 in entry and parking fees at Diamond Head in June. That means the site is on track to collect about $6 million by the end of the year. With fees also being collected at places like Hāʻena State Park on Kauaʻi, Carpenter said the department is poised for a period of growth.

"We have an unprecedented amount of money in the bank right now," he told HPR. "Frankly, we've been a very, very, very understaffed, undermanaged park system for too long, especially given the importance of our parks to visitors and to the overall economy."

"So yeah, that is changing. We have money in the bank and the Legislature just lifted our spending ceiling, allowing us to spend $12 million this year instead of less than $1 million last year. So nowhere to go but up, and we're going to try and reinvest those dollars in the park and most of that money is coming from out-of-state residents," Carpenter added.

Diamond Head is open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with gates closing at 6 p.m. This interview aired on The Conversation on July 19, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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