DLNR News Release-Iao Valley State Monument Reopens May 1

Posted on Apr 15, 2023 in Latest Department News, Main, Newsroom

(KAHULUI, MAUI) – Following a nine-month closure, for slope stabilization work, one of the most popular parks in the DLNR Division of State Parks (DSP) system is scheduled to reopen next month. The May 1 reopening will also mark the fourth Hawai‘i state park to require advance reservations for out-of-state visitors. 

Non-resident reservations are already necessary at Hā‘ena State Park on Kaua‘i, Diamond Head State Monument on O‘ahu, and at Waiʻānapanapa State Park on Maui. 


The ‘Īao reservation system will mirror those used at Diamond Head and Waiʻānapanapa, introduced following the pandemic and were the result of overcrowding and a glut of commercial tours. 


Based on input from visitors, while some continue to arrive unaware of the need for a reservation, those who do have them find an uncrowded park with the ability to explore and soak in the natural beauty without elbowing one another. 


The major attraction at Waiʻānapana is the black sand beach. Stepping onto shimmering sand after exiting a sea cave, Lauren Baylor of Maryland exclaimed, “Oh my gosh. Absolutely unbelievable. It’s just spectacular. The pictures don’t do it justice at all as the black sand is nothing like what you see in person.” 


Reservations at the four state parks now require visitors to do some advanced planning. “I wait until the last minute to do everything. I think I made our reservations two weeks out and they had a slot open. The morning is a good time, there’s hardly anyone here,” said Alabama visitor Brittney Pethel. 


Yet, the folks from the partner who greet and checkin visitors say not everyone is universally happy with their experience. 


While Jayna Ho‘opai checked reservations and directed people where to park, she commented, “When we have to refuse entrance because of not having a reservation some people are pretty good about it, but others not so much.”  


DSP Assistant Administrator Alan Carpenter hopes that with the addition of a reservation system at ‘Īao, and other parks slated to have them in the future, visitors will know well in advance of arriving in Hawai‘i that they’ll need reservations at some of the most popular parks. 


“It’s been four years since we began booking reservations at Hā’ena State Park. The complaints from those who fail to secure them have steadily decreased and we expect with the addition of ‘Iao reservations people will become more aware of the requirement.” Carpenter explained. The true silver lining to these systems is the ability for local residents to return to these spaces they felt pushed out of for years by throngs of tourists.” 


While there are no plans to require visitor reservations at all Hawai‘i State Parks, DSP is  now considering a system at Mākena State Park on Maui. “We’ve found visitor satisfaction is much higher when compared to pre-reservation days. It’s a way to effectively manage the number of people in parks across the day. It helps protect our natural and cultural resources from being loved to death and by spreading visitation out across the day people generally have a better experience,” said Curt Cottrell, DSP Administrator. 


At Waiʻānapanapa, Ho‘opai detailed the reservation system saying they have four different time slots throughout the day with 75-80 vehicles allowed in during each slot. “We do sellout a week in advance, and you have to download your reservation QR code before you get to the park, because there’s no cell service.”  Another indication of the need to prepare in advance. 


Advance reservations for ‘Īao State Monument open on Monday at 9 a.m. Hawaiʻi time, two weeks prior to the scheduled park reopening.  All Hawai’i State Parks day-use reservations can be made at https://gostateparks.hawaii.gov. The parking fee is $10 per vehicle. The additional non-resident entrance fee is $5 per person, with no charge for children under three-years of age. There are separate fees for commercial vehicles. 


“Hawai‘i residents with a valid driver’s license or State ID, continue to get into all of our parks free of charge, and we intend to keep it that way, as we move forward with adding new parks to our reservations system. However, any out-of-state visitor in a vehicle with a Hawai‘i resident still needs to have a reservation,” Carpenter said. 


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(All video/images courtesy: DLNR) 

HD video – ‘Īao Valley State Monument slope stabilization (Feb. 15, 2023): 


HD video – Waiʻānapanapa State Park reservation system (June 22, 2022): 


(SOT times attached) 

Photographs – ‘Īao Valley State Monument slope stabilization (Feb. 15, 2023): 


Photographs – Waiʻānapanapa State Park reservation system (June 22, 2022): 




Dan Dennison                                                                       

Senior Communications Manager                                      

[email protected]                                                    

(808) 587-0396