Kauaʻi’s north shore, the gateway to the Nāpali Coast and one of the island’s most popular natural attractions, introduced a new set of ground rules for visitors just prior to the pandemic. Though some time has passed since it’s inception, many people are still unaware of the changes, which includes a parking permit system as well as a park-and-ride shuttle that runs through the area.
Table of contents
Table of Contents
- When did the shuttle system come about?
- What’s the purpose of the shuttle system?
- What areas are included in the new shuttle system?
- How does the shuttle and parking system work? What are the rules?
- I’m planning a trip to Kauaʻi. How do I make a reservation to visit the North Shore?
Below, we walk through the regulations that now govern Kauaʻi’s North Shore and explain how to best navigate them.
When did the shuttle system come about?
Kauaʻi’s North Shore closed down in April 2018 after a disastrous flood caused major damage. The closure lasted for 14 months, allowing the area not only time to recover, but to re-imagine a life for both residents and visitors. The most significant change was the introduction of the shuttle and parking reservation system in the summer of 2019.
What’s the purpose of the shuttle system?
The reasoning behind the introduction of the shuttle and parking reservation system is to eliminate many of the problems the local community has endured in the past, such as illegal parking, overcrowding, and traffic.
The shuttle system allows visitors to “park and ride,” reducing the number of cars on the single-lane road as well as decreasing the competition for parking at the beaches.
What areas are included in the new shuttle system?
The new system is based around managing access to many popular areas along Kauai’s North Shore, including Hāʻena State Park, aka “the end of the road,” as well as the attractions of the Nāpali Coast, such as the Kalalau Trail, Hanakāpīʻai Falls, and Keʻe Beach.
How does the shuttle and parking system work? What are the rules?
Here’s everything you need to know:
Advanced reservations are required to visit Hāʻena State Park and beyond, regardless of entry method.
All visitors (beach-goers and Nāpali coast hikers alike) need to make a reservation in advance to enter Hāʻena State Park, regardless of whether they arrive by private vehicle, shuttle, on foot, or by bike. No one will be allowed to enter without a confirmed reservation – the price depends on your method of arrival (see below).
Note: A separate permit is still needed for those camping on the Kalalau Trail.
Private vehicle parking requires a permit/reservation.
Parking a private vehicle at Hāʻena State Park is only possible by purchasing a parking permit in advance for either a morning (6:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.), afternoon (12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.), or evening (4:30 p.m. – sunset) time slot.
Time slots cost $10 per vehicle, plus a $5 per person park entry fee. There are limited parking spots available each day, and they sell out very quickly, so advanced planning is imperative. Spaces not successfully reserved are re-released at 12:15 am HST (and sometimes even later). You can also check the reservation website between 7am and 8am HST for NEW availability arising from cancellations.
If you show up without a parking reservation, you will be turned away.
You can “park and ride” with the new shuttle system – this actually is the preferred way.
Parking passes all sold out? Don’t worry – you can hop the shuttle and cruise in, hassle free. A round-trip ticket costs $35 and includes entry into the park. The shuttle makes stops in Princeville and the Waipā Park and Ride before heading to Hāʻena State Park. You can see a map of the shuttle system and its stops and schedule below (or here).
No parking is allowed outside the parks or on side streets.
If you’re thinking that you’ll just park outside the entrance and walk in, think again. Parking is not allowed along Kuhio Highway outside Hāʻena State Park or in the surrounding neighborhoods. Illegal parking interferes with local traffic and can result in a $200 parking ticket or, worse, being towed.
Hawaiʻi residents are exempt from the permit system, but not their guests.
Residents can enter the park for free without a reservation, but their guests still need a reservation if they don’t have a local ID.
I’m planning a trip to Kauaʻi. How do I make a reservation to visit the North Shore?
Head over to the Go Hāʻena website for more information and to purchase entry, parking, or shuttle passes. We recommend booking in advance, as options tend to sell out quickly.
Reservations open 30 days prior to the target date at 12a HST (so Sept 30th opens Aug 31st, Oct 1st opens Sep 1st, etc.).