Proposed Fees Aimed at Visitors

A bill before the state Legislature would require visitors to Hawaiʻi 15 and older to purchase a yearlong pass that would permit access to state parks and trails on all islands. 

Gov. Green campaigned on a $50-per-visitor fee for entry into the state, though some legislators expressed concerns about the legality of such a fee, which they feel may infringe on the U.S. Constitution’s protections for free travel and interstate commerce. A use fee for state parks and trails was proposed as an alternative less likely to draw litigation and would likely cost about the same. 

“All I want to do, honestly, is to make travelers accountable and have the capacity to help pay for the impact that they have,” Green said of the fee. “We get between nine and 10 million visitors a year, but we only have 1.4 million people living here. Those 10 million travelers should be helping us sustain our environment.”

Other Pacific Island nations facing similar dilemmas have also considered visitor fees. Palau, for example, charges arriving international passengers a fee of about $100 upon entry to fund the management of its marine sanctuary and promote responsible tourism. 

Most state parks in Hawaiʻi are currently free, with rare exceptions like Hāna’s Waiānapanapa State Park, which responded to overcrowding by instituting a reservation-only system in 2021 that charges visitors a $10 parking fee and $5 per person entry fee. Commercial tours pay a fee of $25-50. Upon reopening May 1, Īao Valley State Park will also require paid reservations. 

The annual use fee would apply to state-owned beach parks, leaving the bulk of the shoreline freely accessible to all. And just as with the parking fees that are being imposed at some popular beaches under the ParkMaui program, those carrying a Hawaiʻi driver’s license or state I.D. will remain exempt from the fees. 

Dan Collins