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Hanalei Water Activities Rules

Tow-in Surfing

Tow-in surfing in Hawaii may only be conducted during periods of high surf warning as declared by the National Weather Service.

State Rules:

  • Only thrill craft (jet ski) can be used;

  • All thrill craft must be recorded with DLNR using appropriate forms;

  • Tow-in surfing decals must be displayed on front half of vessel;

  • Thrill craft operators and tow-in-surfers must complete the thrill craft certification course; and are required to possess, and make available upon demand of enforcement personnel, a certificate of course completion.


When operating a thrill craft for tow-in surfing, all operators shall:

  • Carry on board a two-way communicating device;

  • Tow-in a maximum of one person at any one time;

  • Carry dive fins and a safety knife on their person; and

  • Yield right of way to all other boating or ocean recreation activities by leaving the same surfing break area and remaining a minimum of one thousand feet from the other activities. 

Thrill Craft / Jet Ski

Thrill craft may also be called jet skis or Personal Water Craft (PWC)

State Rules:

  • Must be 15 years old to operate;

  • No thrill craft within Marine Life Conservation Districts (MLCDs) or Natural Area Reserves (NARs);

  • Must take and pass the required thrill craft operator course and carry certificate;


Thrill craft may operate in designated zones w/in Ocean Recreation Management Areas; and beyond 500 feet from shore or outer edge of the fringing reef in a non-designated ORMA, out to a distance of 2 miles off of Kauai; Commercial thrill craft operations need a Commercial Operating Area Use permit.

See DOBOR website for additional information


State Rules:


  • a vessel, and should be registered;

  • not a thrill craft;

  • subject to carriage requirements for a class a vessel like a sup (away from a surf break);

  • required to comply with all rules and regulations that apply to vessels, including speed regulations, operation in proximity to marine animals, prohibited areas.


NOTE: No person shall operate a vessel at a speed in excess of "slow-no-wake" within 500 feet of the shoreline, an ingress/egress zone, designated mooring area, or on the Hanalei River and within 300 feet of a diver' s flag or a designated swimming area.


Snorkeling, Spearfishing, free diving, SCUBA diving

State Rules:

  • These activities require use of a dive flag.

  • Diver must mark position with a dive flag while diving and may not surface more than 100 ft from dive flag (except in emergency). Divers in water flag 12” x 12” Red and white.

Swimming & Swim Zones

Swimming Zones B-1 and B-2, Hanalei Bay ocean waters.

  • Swim zone areas confined by the boundaries shown in swim area map:

  • Zone B-1 swimming area extends three hundred feet seaward of the low water mark for a distance of three hundred feet on each side of Hanalei Pier.

  • Zone B-2 swimming area extends three hundred feet seaward of the low water mark between the extended boundary lines of the county park containing the beach pavilion.


Restriction. Zones B-1 and B-2 are designated for bathing and swimming. No person shall operate or moor a vessel, sailboard, or any other recreation device within Zones B-1 and B-2, provided that this restriction shall not apply to:

  • Vessels engaged in small-scale surround net fishing without the use of motors or fishing and crabbing from shore;

  • Hawaiian design outrigger canoes.

Wind & Kite Surfing

Certain areas are designated for windsurfing, see DOBOR website
State Rules:

  • Ingress/egress to the shoreline must be the most direct route;

  • Maneuvering must adhere to same ‘rules of the road’ as a sailing vessel;

  • Sailboard operators shall approach no closer than 200 feet to a dive flag.


State Rules: 

  • Commercial parasailing operators must have a Commercial Operating Area Use Permit;

  • Only one parasail may be in use at a time per vessel;

  • Parasailing vessels may not operate within 500 feet of the Hanalei shoreline;

  • Parasailing may be restricted in certain areas and/or at certain times such as humpback whale season; 


Hanalei Watershed Hui is a 501(c)(3) non-profit environmental organization that strives to care for the Ahupua’a of Hanalei, Waioli, Waipa, and Waikoko guided by Hawaiian and other principles of sustainability and stewardship, integrity and balance, cooperation and aloha, cultural equity and mutual respect.

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Hanalei Watershed Hui
5299C Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, Kauai

Mailing Address:
Post Office Box 1285
Hanalei, Hawaii 96714

Phone: (808) 826-1985
Fax: (808) 826-1985

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