Hawaii May Ban Tourists From The Best Beaches On Weekends

Hawaii is considering restricting access to the most desirable areas on its islands for locals only on weekends. Tourists would be shut out on peak tourist days.

John de Fries, the head of [Hawaii Tourism Authority], says on every island there are hotspots that can get overcrowded and congested with traffic.

“What we’ve asked [local governments] to consider is whether or not there are certain hotspots or certain areas that maybe belong to local residents only on Saturday and Sunday,” said De Fries.

This is framed as having tradeoffs between Hawaiian business owners, who sell to tourists, and locals who “might appreciate an opportunity to have weekends less crowded.”

How this lands on actual (often American) tourists doesn’t factor because “[e]very day for you as a visitor is a weekend.” If visitors from San Francisco or Los Angeles, who may be hopping over to the islands Thursday to Sunday, are shut out on Saturdays, they’re just visitors. Of course residents have all year, rather than only a few days, to experience the special parts of the islands.

Hawaii allowed residents only to travel between islands without quarantine during the pandemic, and required visitors to have reservations to leave. The state has taken numerous steps aimed at placating local hostility towards outsiders, and placating xenophobic attitudes about Covid-19, including towards other American citizens. So proposing this sort of differential treatment is unsurprising.

Still, approaches such as this are almost certainly legal. Despite the U.S. constitution’s article IV section 2 proclaiming that citizens of each state “shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States” courts have held that states cannot limit access to employment for residents of another state, or property ownership. However dating to Corfield v Coryell (1825), courts have generally allowed discrimination against non-residents in recreation, and this even extends to state benefits including university education pricing.

Just know that they’ll take your money, but many don’t want you there.

(HT: Island Miler who is far more sympathetic towards these restrictions than I am.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gary — They probably don’t want me in Alabama either, but I will still travel there whenever I wish. Stupid people live in all 50 states.

  2. Much prefer spending my money in Mexico…Nuevo Vallarta in January….Los Cabos in April…Los Cabos again in November… all stays @ the Grand Velas Resorts.
    Doubt if I’ll ever visit Hawaii again…let them enjoy all the homeless.

  3. Here is a suggestion – since Hawaii obviously doesn’t want anything to do with the rest of the US let’s kick them out and let them be a separate country then bring in Puerto Rico as the 50th state. It wouldn’t change politics (since both are likely Dem states) and at least Puerto Rico wants to be a state.

    Let Hawaii try to do things on their own without US support, military, benefits, etc and see how they like it. Serves them right for having such horrible attitude toward visitors. They can’t have it both ways – either you want us or not.

  4. So if that is a viable option due to locals desire to have a place less crowded, can NYC, Philly, DC etc do the same thing? Why is it that Hawaiian locals always stake a claim that is unparalleled anywhere else in the US?

  5. In other words, racist Hawaiians just being racist Hawaiians. They can feel free to secede at anytime. I’ll even trade DC statehood for them.

  6. I wonder how they would enforce this. Carry ID on your swim trunks? Hawaii got a terrible deal from the U.S. when its government was overthrown by American planters–such a dirty trick that President Cleveland refused to annex the islands. But once the Spanish-American War started “defense” justified grabbing them. I am sure they never forgot, though the native Hawaiians make up a fairly small portion of the population today. Still, there likely are racial issues here as well as the usual “stick it to the tourists” approach.

  7. Hawaii is over touristed. I don’t think there is really a solution at this point. Maybe global warming may eventually help solve that. It’s not really environmentally sustainable for so many to take 5-10K mile round trips every year .

  8. drrichard
    It is likely not the Hawaiian natives (whatever this means since they came from Tahiti and the Marquesas) but the newly entitled that discovered a new piece of paradise and want to keep it for themselves or at least unchanged from when they first saw it.

    Obviously without realizing that just 50 years ago, Hawaii was without them and even a better place to be haha… For the local quality of life, I suggest we remove all of Waikiki / Lanikai and fill back the swamp.

  9. Nothing like a little class warfare to undermine your primary source of economic income…

  10. We were there in early April and while this was one of the proposals under discussion, the other proposal was to start charging tourists while allowing locals free access to beaches and related parking areas. $10 for Maui beach parking had already been instituted at some previously free lots (to both locals & tourists) and apparently the next fee add-on is $10 for beach access (though here, locals would not pay). While I don’t love it, I do understand it; it definitely emptied the lot by about 50% versus previous years and made parking easier & more convenient. Maybe a little free market money grab by local governments can dissuade enough tourists so that there doesn’t have to be an all-out ban on the weekend for tourists? We were talking with a semi-local (condo owner who splits time between Maui & Portland) and he mentioned he wouldn’t qualify being part-time, and was miffed as he pays property taxes, etc. I suppose Hawaii has always had a “Hawaiian-first” outlook and given the amazing beauty of the island, I guess I can’t fault them for wanting to preserve it. As a side note, even in early April, EVERYWHERE in Maui was crazy busy with long lines to eat. I’m sure this is function of certain capacity restraints due to COVID, but if the vaccine will eliminate these restrictions, I’m not so sure how idyllic Hawaii will continue to be…maybe I just argued for tourist restrictions? And with all the fees, will it only be an elite tourist class that can afford to visit? Egads, I’m confused…

    @Gary – Please do consider continuing to update on the state of things in Hawaii, as I suspect a lot of your readers consider this one of the few options to safely travel to versus overseas…thanks as always!

  11. @adfd I think you are on to something. Hawaii can be the proving ground for Ted Turner’s wet dream of a “Buffalo Commons” (google it). I see no reason all the Hawaiian islands except Oahu cannot be totally depopulated in 5 years. Oahu can take another five. This would eliminate the problem of too many tourists and all the wasted gas it takes to fly people back and forth. This would include the “native” Hawaiians as well, since a you point out they are not really native.

    The @Nicks of the world should also approve of this idea in the name of global warming.

  12. Lot of moronic comments on here anyway…..it was pointed out this was raised as a starting point to discuss the larger problem of the simple fact that Hawaii cannot continue growing tourism unchecked and survive. It’s an ongoing discussion here as to how to balance the explosive growth Hawaii has been experiencing with sustainability.
    If the reactionary loudmouths stay away and the respectful understanding tourists come Hawaii will be a better place.
    But just letting as many tourists as can possibly be lured to the islands with their impact unchecked is not an option.
    I’m guessing this could lead to putting restrictions on tourist buses on the weekends or something along those lines. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

  13. Wouldn’t limiting landing slots for planes do the trick? I don’t think there are very many people who come by boat or swim.

  14. It’s easy to stop the growth. Ban new resorts, hotels, and timeshares for starters. Stopping openly whoring itself for the convention industry is another. But Hawaii doesn’t want to solve the problem (continually adding tourist capacity capability on the islands). It just wants to try and fix a symptom caused by the problem (too many tourists brought in by that new tourist capacity the islands keep adding in the form of new hotels, resorts, and timeshares).

    The more things Hawaii does to screw over the tourists and make things so tourist hostile, the worse the islands’ reputation will get as a place that’s not worth the trouble of visiting. Maybe some there will prefer that outcome…until they start feeling it in their pocketbook anyway.

    As it stands now I have no desire to return to Hawaii any time soon. What’s the point if you can’t do the things you used to be able to do easily. And I’m not even a beach person, per se.

  15. Gary,

    Your views on our COVID-19 measures are incredibly insensitive and elitist. The reason Hawaii took such stringent measures is because of our lack of medical capacity. Most of the state is quite rural – in fact, Maui has just ONE hospital. Do you ever stop to consider what a massive surge would do to our population? And things did get REALLY bad around August of last year. Yes, things never got quite as bad here as they did in the lower 48, but that’s by design. Hawaii cannot handle that level of infection. And if we need help, the closest help is five hours away by air. But, hey, you don’t live here, so you don’t care. All that matters is how you’re impacted even though you weren’t planning on coming here anyway. That is what bothers Hawaii’s residents, the utter disregard for our safety, especially given our limited resources, for the sake of your ability to do whatever you want. And in pre-COVID days, it’s the disrespect of our laws, homes, and cultures. Take the Haiku Stairs, for example, they’re closed to the public. Yet, tourists still climb the stairs and while doing so, trespass through residents’ yards to access the stairs, and level trash and sometimes excrement in those yards. Tell me you wouldn’t be upset with this constantly happening?

    Regarding the current proposal surrounding hotspots, it’s simply that – a proposal. And it’s not one that’s at all feasible. I doubt anything remotely like that will ever be enforced. But, over-tourism is a very real issue, not only here in Hawaii, but all over the world. And even if you ignore the current discussion surrounding residents’ quality of life, you still have to contend with environmental impact and the simple fact that tourists are also complaining about the crowds. Plus, quality of life doesn’t only mean access to these areas. It means not having so much traffic in these areas. There are always so many complaints about tourists blocking homeowners’ driveways to gain access to some of these spots, creating dangerous traffic through certain residential neighborhoods. This conversation might not have even happened if people were simply more respectful. Hawaii is NOT a playground and visitors are not entitled to act as they please while here. This is our home. And it’s a home most of us either can’t or can barely afford to live in. So what would you do, Gary? How would you bring balance to tourism? Why not try being constructive and thoughtful for a change?

  16. Native Hawaiians produce nothing of value. Native Hawaiians are responsible for ZERO technological innovation. They only succeed on tourist dollars and white Americans who buy lavish homes and pay inflated prices for everything. Just like with the Inuits, ethnic Hawaiians have a disproportionate susceptibility to alcoholism and domestic violence.

    Hawaii was the worst state admitted to the union for their judges alone. Ethnic Hawaiians have a long history of mistreating and abusing white tourists. I don’t have a problem with this if these Hawaiians were to give up the tourist dollars they feed their families with.

    If you want to enjoy a pacific paradise, go to Bora Bofa via Tahiti. The native are much more friendly toward western tourism and are grateful.

    I’m with the native Hawaiians: free them. Hawaii belongs to the ethnic Hawaiian people. Let them declare independence and let them take their judges and politicians with them.

  17. ” Take the Haiku Stairs, for example, they’re closed to the public. Yet, tourists still climb the stairs and while doing so, trespass through residents’ yards to access the stairs, and level trash and sometimes excrement in those yards. Tell me you wouldn’t be upset with this constantly happening?”

    So Mr Island Miller will let us believe that only tourists are climbing the Haiku Stairs? Not a single resident? What are you smoking? First check the Journey Era blog to see a resident actually doing it.

    Next, if the stairs were repaired with all the tax dollars that tourists bring you, that would not be a problem. How long before you repair these stupid stairs? Is it really more cost efficient to station a guard at the bottom 24/7 than to repair them 10 years after the fact?

    Third, you want us to believe that only tourist go poop? Is that what you are saying? Have you been to the hobo camp at Waimanalo Bay? Have you visited the restroom right next to the upside down HI flag?

    Seriously… Plus you speak of ‘our’ culture. Sorry, how many words do you know besides Aloha and Mahalo? Can you even put a sentence in Hawaiian? Culture is long gone/dormant man. What’s left are some crowd-and-tourist pleasing stuff…

    If you want fewer people, stop building monstruosities like the Ko’Olina resorts. This is what brings tourists and your pain is self inflicted.

    It is a proposal indeed. And it does reflect a cultural mindset that is all but inclusive. You should build a wall around your islands, you know, jsut to prevent outsiders from coming. Tip of the day: any place on Planet Earth is someone home. There is nothing special about Hawaii in that regards.

    By the way, let me tell you something about those abhorent tourists that they do not do: tourists are not the ones breaking into cars at Ka’ala trailhead.

  18. @AC, Hawaii NEVER asked to be part of the USA. It was forcefully annexed by an expansionist US Government.
    USA, not always the good guys!

  19. The current Hawaiian population is ~40% Asian/Asian-American. It’s not simply ‘native Hawaiians vs whites’. And very good point about availability of medical care there…

  20. MORE MORE MORE PLEASE!! Love the anti HI sentiment and bias (@GLeff at the forefront since he’s the so called “Air Genius”. note: “thought Leader” has been deleted from his profile. Huuh?) So much crying and hating… it’s wonderful. Weed out those buggas!

  21. The amount of white fragility in most of these responses is stunning, as is the ignorance and entitlement. Its truly amazing how comfortable so many are expressing blatantly racist points of view online in a basically public forum. We have so far to go and much work to do.
    Efforts at education and enlightenment will be aided by the inevitable demise of many of these people and the ever growing, unstoppable rise in the cultural, social and political power that people of color are experiencing and will continue to realize.
    ( The last sentence added just for the kick of reminding racists that what they are fighting against and so terrified of is inevitable, regardless of their efforts.)

  22. Well said S Koga. I’m an older white guy who is quite sick of what many of my demographic has spewed…..look forward to my children enjoying a more diverse, interesting world in the future,….that’s what brings on progress, not clinging to the past.
    Amazing the people still promoting white supremacist ideals and perceptions without a second thought to how hateful they sound.

  23. My initial reaction to this was negative, but after thinking about it more – I’m kind of sympathetic to the Hawaiian’s.

    I grew up, and still live at the Jersey Shore. I love the beach, and can literally walk to one. However, on weekends? I never do. It’s absolutely packed with tourists to the point, where it’s just not fun to be there. If I manage a weekday off, I go – But weekends? Never. Last year, due to the pandemic, crowds were way higher then usual. With everything shut down, the beaches were really the only thing “open” to the public. So weekdays here, had the same amount of people as previous years weekends. For the first time in my life, I didn’t go to a local beach even once. My wife brought the kids one day, and regretted it. (Capacity was so high, the local police even restricted access one day – This wasn’t due to Covid distancing either. There was just so many people, there wasn’t room on the sand, and fights were breaking out)

    So the idea of even one weekend, for locals to actually enjoy the place they live in? Sign me up! We have a thing here in NJ called “Local Summer” – Where all the hoards go back to NYC, PA, and other places after Labour Day. It’s a bit colder, but we largely get our beaches back for a couple weeks, before it gets to cold to enjoy. There are people who even hold insulting signs up, as the bennies(our local slang word for annoying tourists) sit in traffic driving back home. (It’s kind of a yearly tradition) While I’m not at that point yet, if this year is like lasts… I could be.

    I spared all the various “annoying tourist” stories I could have told. From blocking driveways, to one year, a lady literally parking her car in the middle of the street(seriously) to go wait in a 25-30 minute line to get Ice Cream. This blocked traffic for about a mile, before she was dragged out. If you don’t live in a tourist area… Trust me folks, it can get annoying.

  24. Agree that Hawaiians, through their elected officials, should be able to do what they want with the beaches or land where they live. I truly agree with this position. If they don’t want tourists there, go some place else. People who don’t live there shouldn’t be able to tell those who do what they can or can’t do with the beaches or land where they live.

    But it’s not just tourists that can be “annoying.” Non-local citizens and politicians from other regions should similarly not be able to tell people in oil country what they can or can’t do with the land where they live. They should not be able to tell the folk who live in timber country what they can or can’t do with the wooded land where they live. They should not be able to tell the folk who live in mineral country what they can do with the land where they live.

  25. Constant negative comments about Hawaii… stop whining and just do not visit the state. I’m sure tourism will survive there without you.

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