HONOLULU (KHON2) — There is growing frustration over the City’s new online reservation system for Hanauma Bay.
Residents say it is impossible to actually book a spot and they suspect the system is being abused.
The City allows 1,500 guests to enter Hanauma Bay per day but people said they see zero spots available shortly after the reservation system opens at 7:00 a.m.
Guests can only make reservations up to 48 hours in advance and each time slot allows up to 30 people. The Action Line caller, who did not want to be identified, said he tried several times right at 7 a.m. so he can bring family members who are visiting.
“By 7:02, maybe 7:03 at the latest, all the reservations are booked and there’s no way that it’s possible. Somebody is scooping up blocks you know,” he said.
He adds that in the time that it takes to fill out the information needed to reserve a spot, the guest can actually lose that spot.
“Every time I’ve entered my information, I process it through and then it tells me that the spot is gone,” he said.
The City says it is because the demand has been incredibly high. Hanauma Bay attracted some 3,000 people daily pre-pandemic.
“To have a thousand spots disappear or get filled up like that, that’s really possible?” asked KHON2.
“I mean, consider how many tourists we’re getting in each day and consider how many people locally want to enjoy the bay too, it’s that popular,” said Nathan Serota, City Parks and Recreation spokesman.
He adds that demand has increased because word has gotten out on how much Hanauma Bay has thrived in the nine months when it was closed to the public.
Some are suspicious that tour companies are taking advantage of the system, however. They are not allowed to bring in tour groups but many companies still advertise online even months in advance.
The president of Friends of Hanauma Bay sent a statement saying, “We have raised concerns about unfair access to reservations.”
Serota says the City has mechanisms in place to prevent unfair access.
“With the five person limit is a good example of that. We monitor the people who are reserving it as well to see if there’s not repeat reservations made under the same name, That would indicate someone trying to profit off that,” said Serota.
He says there are about 150 walk-in spots available daily for those who can not get a reservation.