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You might need to pay for beach parking in Kauai soon. Here's why

June 29, 2021
4 min read
Sonesta Kauai view of beach.
You might need to pay for beach parking in Kauai soon. Here's why
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Even with the cumbersome entry restrictions Hawaii has had in place during the pandemic, tourists have been rushing back there since the spring.

Once a less-traveled, aspirational bucket list location, Hawaii has seen problems with overtourism for years. Beaches are once again packed with visitors, and Kauai is considering charging them to park there as a way to ensure that there's still room for locals.

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Sunset at Tunnels Beach on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo by wingmar/Getty Images)

According to the Associated Press, Kauai has earmarked $30,000 in county coronavirus relief funds to conduct parking studies at three of the island's popular beaches: Poipu, Lydgate and Hanalei's Black Pot.

The AP also reports that the studies would determine an appropriate amount to charge, but the Kauai County Council would then have to vote on whether to impose the fees.

Plumeria flowers in Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo by shorrocks/Getty Images)

"We all know the impacts our parks are facing with the surge of tourism," Kauai Managing Director Michael Dahilig said. "This study will look at ways to better manage the parking situation of tourist vehicles while making it easier for residents to find parking at more-popular destinations."

Each year, the Hawaii Tourism Authority conducts a Resident Sentiment Survey. Per the destination management action plan released by the HTA earlier this year, "The 2019 RSS report showed that resident sentiment had generally weakened compared to the previous year."

Sunset in Hanalei, Hawaii. (Photo by M Swiet Productions/Getty Images)

The total number of people who traveled to the Hawaiian Islands reached 32,000 in a single day last week, the AP said. Although that might seem like a lot, the HTA said Kauai saw 1,370,029 visitors in 2019 (a daily average of about 3,750), meaning it's not back to pre-pandemic levels just yet.

"Hawaii saw a record number of visitors in 2019, prior to the pandemic," Caroline Anderson, director of community enrichment for the HTA, told The Points Guy. "...these [destination management action] plans are meant to rebuild tourism for the islands, including mitigating the impact."

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One of the goals of instituting parking fees that are separate from resort fees is to entice visitors to consider alternate forms of transportation, Anderson said. "This is in an effort to improve the visitor experience and reduce island traffic."

However, given this summer's car rental shortage, it might not take much convincing.

The HTA's report also states, "In the first 10 months of 2020, visitor arrivals dropped 73.8 percent to 298,708 visitors. The average daily census was 8,367 visitors, a decline of 69.7 percent over the same period (in 2019). There were (also) significantly fewer air seats in the market year-over-year."

Sunset over Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo by YinYang/Getty Images)

That changed this year when major airlines like United and Southwest increased the number of routes to the Aloha State.

The problems with over-tourism pre-date the pandemic with many locals unhappy with the number of tourists that can sometimes crowd the islands.

View from an excursion boat of Na Pali coast on the western side of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, Hawaii. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

Featured image by (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023