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Update On Kauai Road Opening (North Shore) - June 24, 2019

Published on June 25, 2019 by Rae-Marie May

Update as of June 24, 2019:  The road is open!  After one week of free-flow traffic, however, there is still a lot of confusion over what is happening on the North Shore. There is no better way of knowing than actually driving there and that is just what my husband and I did this morning. We left our house in Princeville at about 7:15 AM. We had a smooth ride, breezing through the one-lane road going down into Hanalei and crossing the bridges on the north end of the bay. It was a beautiful ride as we passed the enormous amount of work that was done over the last 14 months since the 2018 flood.

When we got to Haena BEACH Park, commonly known as Tunnels, there were lots of parking spaces available. No reservation is needed to park in this parking lot, but cars will be ticketed ($200) outside of designated spaces. By the time we returned at about 10:30, there was not a space to be had.

Driving on to Haena STATE Park, commonly known as Ke'e Beach and the start of the Kalalau Trail, we were met by a very pleasant state employee who told us we could park anywhere we wanted. Being a resident we didn't need to make a parking reservation. The parking lot was virtually empty. It was 8:00.

We walked along a lovely boarded path through the natural vegetation and taro fields, and came upon the beach. Five people were in the water and four were sitting on the shore. It was Heaven.

Kauai Road Opening

Kauai Road Opening

Little by little more people arrived but it was not, by any definition, crowded. The only annoying problem was the incessant helicopters that flew by every few minutes.

Kauai Road Opening

We left at about 10:30. I counted 38 parking spaces still available. There was a line of four cars waiting to park, or possibly to be told that they couldn't park without a reservation. There was a taxi dropping people off (they needed to pay online for entry to the park). We passed many shuttles (5) as we headed back toward Princeville. Entry to the park is included in the cost of the shuttle.

Kauai Road Opening

Obviously, this is one day and one experience, but based on our morning this is what I would suggest:

  1.  If you are going to Haena STATE Park, either take the shuttle or reserve a parking space and go early. If you reserve a parking space, make sure you print out a copy of the reservation as there is no cell service at the park. If you drive in order to hike the trail and are worried about getting back by 12:30, the parking attendant suggested reserving a morning AND afternoon space for a total of $10.

  2.  If you are not going to Haena STATE Park, and simply want to go to Haena BEACH Park (Tunnels), either go early to get a parking spot or take the shuttle.

  3.  Most importantly, drive slowly, respect the residents who are having to adjust to tourist traffic once again, and appreciate what the county and state are trying to do to preserve this treasure for generations to come.

Following is the original blog post with updates as I found out more information. In it will be the links you need to reserve parking, schedule a shuttle, or purchase entry to the park:

As many of you know, the road west of Hanalei Bay to Ke'e has been closed since the April 2018 Kauai flood. Many people, residents and guests, have been anxiously awaiting its reopening. Lumahai Beach, Tunnels, Ke'e and the Kalalau Trail have been closed off for over a year to all except the people who live in Wainiha and Haena. A convoy schedule has been in effect for these residents.

The repairs to numerous landslide and road collapse areas as a result of the 2018 flood are largely complete, although they are still working on some of the bridges. Due to a landslide in May 2019 at mile marker 1, however, the Lihue-bound lane coming up from Hanalei to Princeville will remain closed for 4 to 5 months causing delays going to and from Hanalei as workers try to stabilize the hillside. The continuing restrictions will make actually using the highway challenging for both residents and visitors.

Here's why

  • Traffic will be flagged, 24 hours a day, at mile marker 1, alternating between Lihue-bound and Hanalei-bound traffic using one lane.
  • Heavy traffic congestion is anticipated as work on three single-lane bridges (separate from the highway repairs) between Hanalei and Haena will continue. The Department of Transportation will have flagged access through each of the three worksites.
  • Illegal parking anywhere within the no parking zone will incur a $200 parking fine as a minimum penalty.

Reopening of Haena State Park

Haena State Park is located at the northwestern extent of Kuhio Highway on Kauai's north shore. It includes Ke'e Beach at the end of the highway. Haena is also home to the trailhead of the world famous Kalalau Trail (11 miles), as well as, Hanakapia Trail (2 miles to the beach, with an additional 2 miles to the waterfall). The reopening of Haena State Park and Napali Coast State Wilderness Park coincided with the opening of Kuhio Highway.

Haena State Park will now be subject to daily visitor limits and will require advanced reservations. Park users, including beach-goers, hikers and others will be required to purchase online reservations prior to arrival for private-vehicle parking, shuttle transportation, or walk-in/bike-in entry. State of Hawaii residents are not subject to the new park fees or reservation system.

  • Hāʻena/Kalalau Trail day-use reservations will be available to the public prior to the reopening of the park and highway, and initially will be available for purchase up to two weeks in advance.
  • Day-use reservations and parking reservations will be available from:  https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/kauai/haena-state-park/
  • Park Hours will be from 6:30 am until sunset, daily.

Napali Coast State Wilderness Park & Kalalau Trail will be open but overnight campers must have a valid permit for the Kalalau Trail. They will NOT be subject to the visitor limits and the reservation system for Haena State Park, but will be required to show staff their camping permits to enter or transit Haena State Park. Overnight parking will no longer be allowed at Haena State Part therefore, overnight campers along the Kalalau Trail must arrive by shuttle or arrange for private drop-off.

Reopening of Limahuli Gardens

From their website:

(Hāʻena) – We are pleased to announce that Limahuli Garden & Preserve will reopen to residents and visitors on June 18, 2019 (subject to the opening of Kuhio Hwy, Route 560). The Garden has been closed since last April’s flooding which had major impacts on our infrastructure and now all of our recovery efforts are complete. Our hours of operation remain the same, Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 to 4:00.

Limahuli Garden has initiated an advanced reservation program for those who would like to join our Garden tours. This program will allow our operation to effectively manage the number of vehicles and the associated impacts to the Garden and surrounding community. To make a reservation for our self-guided tour, visit our website at www.ntbg.org and click the Limahuli tab. To make a reservation for our guided tours, please call our Visitor Center at 808.826.1053.

Those who take the new north shore shuttle system to Limahuli Garden and full time residents (with a Hawaii driver’s license) will not require an advanced reservation for our self-guided tours. Shuttle riders who want to visit the Garden will require confirmation of their shuttle reservation or purchase to visit the Garden. For more information on visiting the Garden, please visit our website at www.ntbg.org. To find more information about shuttle operations, please visit their website at www.kauainsshuttle.com.

Adopting more sustainable tourism practices will allow the Garden to benefit the community, the areas natural & cultural resources and our visitors who come to engage in this very special place. Actively engaging in the solutions to take care of our places is a reciprocal responsibility all of us share equally. These measures are steps we will take to preserve our rural community, enhance our visitor experience and ensure our places are resilient and prosperous for generations to come. We are hopeful as we step forward towards a future of sustainable tourism, that we all work together to support and honor our communities, places and each other.

Tunnels Beach

While there is a small parking lot at Tunnels and no reservations are required, it will fill up very fast and parking outside the lot will be ticketed. The shuttle will stop at Tunnels (Haena Beach Park).

Shuttle Plans

A shuttle service, planned by the nonprofit, Hanalei Initiative, is scheduled to start operating between Princeville and Ke'e Beach once the road is opened. Shuttle tickets will be $11 (round trip) for tourists and $2 for locals. Visitors and residents staying in Princeville may depart from the Princeville Makai Golf Club shuttle transfer station.  There is limited paid parking ($15) however, so transfers to and from the transfer station should be considered. Visitors staying elsewhere on Kauai may depart from the Waipa Park & Ride (past Hanalei Town) where parking is free. This will hopefully alleviate some of the traffic congestion and parking frustration further north. No one wants to go back to the way it was before the 2018 flood. It is not a perfect plan, but it is a start at managing the enormous number of people who want to see the north end of Kauai. Can you blame them?

The following comes from The Hanalei Initiative website:

In recent years, there are times when traffic on the North Shore of Kauai becomes unmanageable. Our roads are at capacity and the lack of infrastructure cannot support the current vehicular count. Residential quality of life and visitor experience is compromised and it is understood that we are out of balance. The April flood has provided a much needed break but without implementing smart systems now, we are destined to return to an unmanageable number of people on the North Shore.

We feel it is important that a shuttle system be a comfortable and culturally engaging experience that provides economic stability to our merchants. Our vision is that the shuttle provides ease of use for visitors and residents, while prioritizing stops in business centers and lifeguarded beaches, allowing the riders to then walk or bike around.

With only about 75 parking spots for park goers, we estimate only 350-400 people being allowed to arrive by car each day. With 500-550 people unable to bring their own transportation, this leaves a huge demand for shuttle service.

The Kaua'i North Shore Shuttle service will launch the website and begin booking reservations on June 17, with the first shuttles running June 21, 2019 and run between Princeville and the Hā’ena State Park stopping at various points along the way. We will service visitors and residents alike with stops at merchant centers and County lifeguarded beaches.

The Kaua'i North Shore Shuttle is a visitors primary service system for the Hā’ena State Park which includes the Ke'e Beach area and Kalalau Trail access at the end of the road. With limited park access and very limited reserved parking each day, we expect the Kaua'i North Shore Shuttle to transport a significant number of park attendees to Hā’ena State Park and in the process help keep a significant amount of traffic off of the small congested historic roadway - delivering many benefits for both residents and visitors.

FAQ - General

  • The Kaua'i North Shore Shuttle is for everyone!

  • The official website is kauaiNSshuttle.com. Please visit the website on June 17th for the most up-to-date information on the shuttle service and to purchase tickets.

  • There will be a mandatory reservation system for riders traveling to and from Hā’ena State Park (Ke’e Beach).

  • No reservation required for Ha’ena Beach Park (Tunnels Beach).

  • Tickets for the Kaua'i North Shore Shuttle will be available for purchase at kauaiNSshuttle.com. Introductory $11 round trip pricing per person is for visitors heading to Hā’ena State Park. Introductory $2 ticket prices are anticipated for visitors and residents on all other routes. Extended use passes may also be offered. All tickets, passes, and scheduling remain subject to change at this time.

  • The Kaua'i North Shore Shuttle will honor a County of Kaua'i Bus Pass.

  • There will be no on-board fare recovery. Walking-on with cash in hand will not be allowed. All tickets must be purchased electronically unless purchasing a Kauai Bus pass at participating locations.

FAQ - Hā’ena State Park riders

  • Entry into Hā’ena State Park will require a reservation for visitors, for the day, time and pick-up location.

  • Hā’ena State Park shuttle riders’ fare will include the park entrance fee.

  • The Hā’ena State Park reservation website will direct you to the Kaua'i North Shore Shuttle reservation website if you elect to take the shuttle as part of their process. If the parking lot is already fully reserved, the shuttle will be your only alternative.

  • If you know you want to take the Kaua'i North Shore Shuttle to Hā’ena State Park, you may book directly on our website - details will be announced in future communications. Updated shuttle schedules, availability, reservations and other information will be on the website.

  • Hā’ena State Park shuttle riders will need to select a time for entering and exiting the park.

FAQ - All Other Stops riders (excluding Hā’ena State Park)

  • Riders not going to the Hā’ena State Park are anticipated to be able to purchase a single ride pass, or a daily / weekly / monthly / annual pass allowing walk-on privileges.

  • Walk-ons welcome on a first-come first-serve basis with a valid pass and based on available seating.

  • Riders can hop-on hop-off as much as desired with one pass as long as the pass remains valid. Single ride passes may only board once.

Route and Schedule:

  • Proposed routes are subject to change. Check kauaiNSshuttle.com (launching website June 17th) for updated information and for making reservations.

ShuttleRouteMapWeb.jpg

For more of my blogs or to subscribe, go to the right hand side of this page (full screen computers).  For photos and information about my luxury vacation rental on the north shore, go to the other pages of this website.  Mahalo!

Meet The Author
My husband and I fell in love with Hawaii in the early eighties when we made our first trip from San Diego to the islands. In 2000 we chose Kauai as our home. We love the small town feel, great weather and beauty. We couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
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