New boat and trailer parking signs posted at Hōnaunau ramp

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Vehicle parked in area designated for boat and trailer parking at Hōnaunau Boat Ramp. (Megan Moseley/Big Island Now)

Less than a week ago, Hawai‘i County Parks and Recreation Department posted “boat and trailer parking only” signs at Hōnaunau boat ramp in South Kona.

But it appears beach goers are not adhering to the parking restrictions.

On Monday, vehicles were taking up six of the eight spaces reserved for local fishermen.

Over the years, the precious parking real estate — located off a one-way section on Hōnaunau Beach Road that fronts a park known as “Two Step” — became a bigger issue as the area grew in popularity.

In an effort to protect the few boat and trailer spaces, former Hawai‘i County Councilwoman Maile David spearheaded the initiative more than two years ago to get the signs installed.


They were finally posted nearly a year after she left office.

“I was hoping they’d get signs up before I left office, but it just shows how slow government works,” said David, who represented the South and Ka‘ū communities from 2014-2022.

Most of the available stalls near Hōnaunau Bay are primarily limited to the makai side of the road, fronting its unique landscape where beachgoers set up chairs and lay out towels on pahoehoe lava. Located next to Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau Historic Park, hundreds flock to the bay daily for the clear water, coral reef, dolphins and other marine life.

Vehicles parked by Hōnaunau Boat Ramp in spaces designated for boat and trailer parking only on Aug. 28, 2023. (Megan Moseley/Big Island Now)

On Monday at Two Step, local fisherman Rodney Auld, who was raised in Hōnaunau, said no one has honored the parking signs.

Commercial fishermen and local families used to be able to park trailers and vehicles just south of the ramp. But Auld said the number of visitors to the park has grown substantially over the past 15 years, with the parking spaces now often taken by tourists.


As a result, Auld said it forces the fishermen to park their trailers far away or have someone take them home. Or “they have to inconvenience a family member” to bring the trailer back after a day of fishing.

Auld has mixed emotions about the increased visitors to the area. Growth is good, but he said regulation is needed sometimes.

Auld suggested finding room for a few loading zones and establishing some handicap stalls. He said: “Those with disabilities shouldn’t be restricted from seeing this beautiful area.”

With the new signs, David said it doesn’t solve the problem, but it addresses it.

“At least now [the county] has an opportunity to cite [violators],” she said.


David also recognizes that it is a public beach park and there is no good public parking, with only two parallel stalls mauka of the beach along with a $5 paid parking lot.

“But we’re not going to eek out the fishermen,” she said.

Barry Fackler of Captain Cook has been going to the park for 23 years. He saw the signs for the first time last week when he went to park for an early-morning dive session.

“Parking has always been free to whomever gets there first,” Fackler said, adding some of spaces now restricted couldn’t fit a boat and trailer.

No parking sign along mauka side of Hōnaunau Beach Road by the boat ramp. (Megan Moseley/Big Island Now)

He said the signs were a sudden change without justification or warning.

“It’s a boat park, granted, but it’s also a beach park,” Fackler said. “For people not to have access to a county park is unreasonable and unfair.”

Last week, he said Hawai‘i Island police were called to the area and forced people to move their vehicles parked in the now restricted area. It is unclear if any citations were issued.

Fackler said no boats or trailers used the area while he was there: “That parking space went to waste.”

Most beachgoers park as far up as Keala O Keawe Road, or Highway 160, making it a somewhat long and potentially dangerous walk.

On Monday, Australian Ben Simai parked his rental vehicle closer to the highway in order to enjoy Two Step. He said he knew parking would be limited after reading a blog about the area online.

While Simai doesn’t think it’s right that vehicles are taking up designated spaces for boats and trailers, he said people are not left with much of an alternative.

“I don’t know where else you’d park,” Simai said.

Currently, there are no plans to create more parking for the area.

Hawaiʻi County Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina said the department has numerous other priorities that have already been budgeted for this fiscal year, adding the county has issues with the lack of parking at most of their 24 county beach parks.

Megan Moseley contributed to this story.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at
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