Visitors heading to Akaka Falls State Park on the Big Island’s scenic Hamakua Coast will now have to pay a fee to enter.
The Hawaii state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) recently began charging entry fees for non-residents and commercial tour vehicles entering Akaka Falls State Park. The fee is $5 per car, or $1 per pedestrian walking into the park. Commercial tour vehicles are required to pay based on vehicle capacity.
Hawaii residents with a state-issued ID will not have to pay the parking fee.
The fees are meant to help offset the shortfalls currently facing the state parks budget, said Dan Quinn, state parks administrator. The charges are part of ongoing DLNR efforts at generating new sources of revenue to help the statewide park system become more self-sufficient.
The Hawaii State Park system comprises 53 parks on Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island. The state currently charges non-resident fees at three other parks in addition to Akaka Falls State Park: Diamond Head State Monument and Nuuanu Pali State Wayside on Oahu, and Iao Valley State Monument on Maui.
The four parks are among the most visited of all of Hawaii’s state-managed parks. Nuuanu Pali was the most recent state park to begin charging visitor entry fees, beginning in March 2010.
Akaka Fall State Park is located at the end of Highway 220, also known as Akaka Falls Road, 3.6 miles out of the former sugar plantation town of Honomu on the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast.
The park sprawls over 65 acres with two waterfalls — the 100-foot Kahuna Falls and 442-foot Akaka Falls — along a short, 0.4-mile loop hike through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns.
In a recent poll, HAWAII Magazine Facebook ohana members overwhelmingly voted Akaka Falls their No. 1 favorite Hawaii waterfall.
Here’s a list of the four Hawaii state parks with visitor entry fees, and fees currently being charged for each:
• Diamond Head State Monument
Location: Honolulu, off Diamond Head Road, between Makapuu Avenue and 18th Avenue
Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily (with limited weekday hours through TK.)
Non-resident visitor fees: $5 per car; $1 per person for pedestrians
• Nuuanu Pali State Wayside
Location: Nuuanu Valley, turn off Pali Highway (Highway 61) onto marked access road
Hours: Daylight hours, daily
Non-resident visitor fees: $3 per car
• Iao Valley State Monument
Location: Iao Valley outside Wailuku, end of Iao Valley Road (Highway 32)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily
Non-resident visitor fees: $5 per car
• Akaka Falls State Park
Location: Honumu, end of Akaka Falls Road (Highway 220)
Hours: Daylight hours, daily
Non-resident visitor fees: $5 per car; $1 per person for pedestrian
For a complete list of parks in the Hawaii State Park system, click here.
Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Tor Johnson