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Hapuna Beach charging non-resident parking fee

By Yunji de Nies
Published On: Apr 01 2013 08:35:29 PM HST

Starting today, tourists who visit the Big Island's Hapuna Beach must pay a $5 to park, with commercial tour groups paying up to $40 per vehicle. A state ID will still get locals in for free.

KOHALA COAST, Hawaii -

The Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area on the Big Island became one of four recreational areas statewide to charge a parking fee for non-residents.

The other parks that have a parking fee are the Nuuanu Pali Lookout State Wayside on Oahu, Iao Valley State Monument on Maui and Akaka Falls State Park on the Big Island, according to West Hawaii Today.

The state is expected to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in the new venture.  It's money that will help offset the high cost of maintaining the beach park.

Starting on April 1, non-residents must pay $5 to park with commercial tour groups paying up to $40 a vehicle.

"Visitors are used to, and more than happy to, assist the budget of the locally run state park," said Ben Wesley of Republic Parking.  "More often than not, when people leave they tell us it was worth it."

A state ID will get locals in for free.

"State residents, everything is the same.  You just continue to enjoy the park as you always have," said Wesley.

Hapuna, with its long stretch of white sand, is one of the Big Island's most popular beaches.

David Roberts Jr. has lived on the Kohala coast for the last three decades and says visitors who enjoy the beach should contribute to its upkeep.

"I think it's a good thing that they pay a fee," said Roberts.  "They're used to it and they have the money, so why not?"

The state has contracted with Republic Parking, a private company to run the parking enforcement and is expected to collect a minimum of $200,000 a year.  That money will offset maintenance costs and lifeguards' salaries.

Roberts says the money is definitely needed here.

"Need the bathrooms fixed and keep the showers going. " said Roberts.  "You know the showers are always breaking down.  Just keep the place clean and safe because lifeguards perform a vital role."

The money generated from the parking fees is not expected to fully cover the cost of maintaining Hapuna Beach, but officials say it will be a huge help.

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