All of West Maui officially reopens to visitors on 1 November following the devastating wildfires that swept through the area in August. It will be the first time since the fires began that the entire west side of the island – with the exception of the burned-out section of Lāhainā – will be open to tourism.
“Maui Mayor Richard Bissen announced that the rest of West Maui north of Lahaina – Phases 2 and 3 from Kahana to Kā’anapali – will begin reopening on Wednesday, November 1,” said a press release from Bissen’s office on Monday.
Lāhainā, the fire zone, will remain closed to visitors until further notice out of respect for the town’s residents.
“The Red Cross has assured me that housing for displaced Lāhainā residents, including those staying in hotels, is not at risk,” Bissen said in the release. “In addition, the County has received commitments from other partners to work on developing childcare programmes for displaced families. Sheltering nearly 7,000 survivors remains a critical focus of our efforts and their needs are our priority.”
The reopening combines the last two phases and will not affect housing for displaced wildfire survivors, Bissen said.
The announcement comes after Hawaii Governor Josh Green signed an emergency proclamation lifting the travel ban to the area as of 8 October. Bissen modified Green’s plan to include a phased reopening, beginning with the first phase of the Ritz-Carlton, Maui Kapalua to Kahana Villa on 8 October, with the rest of West Maui to follow at undetermined dates.
Although the announcement signals a return to normal travel on Maui, the Hawaii Tourism Authority advises travellers to “check with individual West Maui accommodations, activities and businesses for availability and hours of operation”.
The announcement of a full reopening comes as a relief to local business owners who depend on tourist spending.
The University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization estimates that Maui lost more than $13 million in visitor spending each day, and Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism reports that air arrivals to Maui were less than half of what they were in August 2022.”One of the best things guests can do to help Maui is to come back to Maui… to support the local economy,” said Wendy Tuivaioge, director of Hawaiian programs at Four Seasons Maui, in a video shared by the Maui Visitors Bureau.
“We welcome them with open arms and tell them, ‘Yes, come back and visit Maui,'” Tuivaioge said.