Melissa Bean Sterzick
I have always loved to travel – most people do – and happily, my kids have reached an age where they finally enhance, rather than detract from, the enjoyment of family vacations.
We took a trip to Oahu last month, and my children were troupers. They didn’t need naps, special food, special bedding, or constant supervision. They both swim, bathe themselves, enjoy outings such as snorkeling and zip-lining, and sleep through the night. I did have to bring a booster seat for the small one, as well as children’s Tylenol, just in case, and a ton of candy for the plane ride, but those were the only extra items required. It’s a new era.
Hawaii is a dream destination. I have been once before, to Maui, but wish I could go every year. Before our trip I was, however, concerned to read that Honolulu was the only place with worse traffic than Los Angeles. Fearing an experience too similar to our daily lives, we decided to spend half the trip in busy Waikiki and the other half in a semi-rural area on the windward side of the island. (I’m throwing out that word “windward” to show how savvy I am.)
Never fear, once we got there, I soon saw that the traffic was challenging, but nowhere near as bad as LA’s. On the other hand, parking was much, much worse.
After the candy-filled flight, we touched down, picked up our rental and headed for our hotel in Waikiki. Once there, we found not a lick of street parking and a $25 parking fee on top of the resort fee. If we’d seen anywhere to park nearby, we might have tried it, but it was obvious that was not going to be an option.
We agreed to the fee and, after we checked in, we proceeded to the parking garage, which I’d like to call a concrete sardine can. This was a parking garage like no other I’ve seen. Cars fit in to every open space like puzzle pieces. We had to let out everyone on the passenger side before backing in to a space that seriously jeopardized the integrity of our rental car’s bumper. But it worked, and we were grateful.
We spent a beautiful day at Hanauma Bay, a place where parking is also tight. In fact, the bay essentially closes when the parking lot is full. You can find a few spots above the entrance and across the highway, if you’re a daredevil. We arrived early and were pleased to make the cut.
Another day, at Pearl Harbor, we observed two smallish parking lots filled to the brim, but luckily found a spot at a nearby park. Parking security staff members on bikes were busy chasing out wayward tourists. “You can’t keep circling! Go! Go!”
For the second leg of the trip, we headed to a place called Hauula, where we rented an apartment. There, the parking environment took a wild turn. I wouldn’t say it was a free-for-all, but it was close. Our apartment came with a parking spot, luckily.
During our outings, we parked on every surface possible: asphalt, dirt, grass, concrete and rock. We parked by the side of the road, we parked in fields, we parked in parking lots. There was an enclave of food trucks surrounded by parked cars nosed in at every angle. At one beach we visited, there were about a dozen “spots” lined up between the road and a cliff. We parked there gladly.
I found it interesting to see what scarcity does in different parking settings.
In Waikiki, the parking was strictly controlled by availability and price. There was no question we were going to pay whatever we had to in order to park. In Hauula and surrounding areas, parking was controlled by availability and imagination. There wasn’t much parking, but the rules were undefined and just about any open space we considered safe could become a parking spot.
The contrast between the two locations is interesting to me and probably more complicated than I can discuss, but the conclusion was simple: We found parking whenever we needed it. Parking was a concern, and we had no idea what we’d face, but it worked out. Whenever you travel, with kids or otherwise, you’re relieved when the details remain details and don’t become issues.
I went to Hawaii to swim and eat pineapple, but I took the opportunity, for the sake of this column, to observe the state of parking there. It wasn’t hard, because parking is a peripheral but essential task. We did lots of everything – eating, swimming, playing – and it all required parking.
Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader, occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.