Can You Fly a Drone in Maui?
On the Hawaiian archipelago, the island of Maui enchants with its volcanic peaks, stunning waterfalls, pristine beaches, and natural pools.
Most of the island is beaches, the likes of which you’d love to explore with your drone.
Can you fly a drone in Maui?
You can use a drone in Maui, although you’re prohibited from flying over airports and military bases and in national parks. The Hana Coast, Waihee Ridge Trail, and Po’olenalena Beach offer some of the best sights in the area for pilots!
In today’s article, we’ll further break down the rules of Maui drone use, including what’s off-limits.
We’ll also recommend some more must-see drone flight locations, so make sure you keep reading!
Can you fly a drone in Maui?
Hawaii permits drones, including in Maui and elsewhere on this island state. Since you’re still flying within the United States, you’re under the jurisdiction of the FAA.
» MORE: Drone Laws in Hawaii
Admittedly, Hawaii doesn’t have overly strict drone laws. The state has only one state law that doesn’t apply to the average hobbyist or commercial pilot.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources has a local law, but that’s about it.
As great as this may sound, you can’t use your drone with complete and utter freedom.
As we said in the intro, you’re restricted from using your drone in all the standard places, including military airbases, airports, heliports, and the like.
You should use a drone map when planning your flights around Maui to avoid restricted airspace. Temporary flight restrictions can go up anytime, and you can’t fly through those areas either.
Maui is an incredibly small Hawaiian island, measuring 735 square miles, approximately 26 miles wide and 48 miles long.
The cramped conditions mean that restricted airspace can extend further than you’d think, leaving you having to replan your route.
Can you fly a drone in Haleakala National Park?
Maui gets the lion’s share of attention for its beaches, from Hana to Wailea, Kihei, Kahului, Paia, and so many more.
Situated among all that nature is Haleakala National Park, another trademark of this tiny island.
The park includes over 33,000 acres of space, of which a dormant volcano, Wilderness Area, and a forest called Hosmer’s Grove are packed within.
Can you bring your drone to Haleakala National Park? That’s a hard no.
The National Park Service oversees Haleakala and under Policy Memorandum 14-05, has prohibited drones from entering the park since 2014.
We’ve discussed Policy Memorandum 14-05 elsewhere on the blog, and you can read it in full here.
Policy Memorandum 14-05 outlaws the “launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Haleakala National Park” unless you have written permission from a superintendent.
Superintendents grant permissions very sparingly. The NPS largely wants drones out of the park because they pose a nuisance to visitors, can destroy natural resources, and will upset the wildlife in the area.
Considering that Haleakala National Park also contains a Wilderness Area, a preservation point that strictly prohibits drones, it’s no surprise you can’t access this national park with a UAV.
If you violate the rules, you’ll receive a misdemeanor charge. The NPS says this can result in a fine of $5,000 and possibly six months behind bars.
The best 5 places to fly a drone in Maui
Okay, enough with places you can’t use your drone in Maui. Let’s spotlight five locations where pilots have gone and gotten some stellar shots. We hope you can visit each spot on this list too!
1. Hana Coast
On Maui’s eastern end, Hana Coast features 52 miles of highway and access to the beloved Hana Beach.
A more isolated part of the state, you’ll find yourself surrounded by rainforests, waterfalls, and beaches with glimmering black sand.
Hana has an airport in the region, so triple-check your drone map that you’re not encroaching on restricted airspace as you visit this tranquil green coastline.
2. Nakalele Blowhole
Nakalele Point, also known as the Nakalele Blowhole, is up northern Maui on the western side. To reach the blowhole portion of this land mass, venture toward Poelua Bay and head east.
The blowhole produces water spouts that emerge with the intensity of a geyser. The water can crest 100 feet up. All along, you’re surrounded by the ocean with cresting waves up the rocks near the blowhole.
We recommend standing a good distance from the blowhole when it’s in action.
You could get hurt between the strong force of the ocean waves and the blowhole itself. One person has even died because they were pulled into the blowhole.
Fly your drone a good distance over the blowhole so it doesn’t get spritzed with water and break!
3. Pu’upehe Platform
Although it’s affectionately referred to as Sweetheart Rock, the true name is Pu’upehe Platform or Pu’ Pehe. Sweetheart Rock is just the tourist name, but it’s stuck, so we can’t blame you for using it.
This small rock ascends 150 feet over a peninsula between Hulopo’e Bay and Manele Bay. Either way you turn, you’ll enjoy beautiful bay views. You can possibly see Manele Bay Resort and its golf clubhouse too.
Old village remnants abound in the area, such as a fishing shrine, a haeiau (a Hawaiian temple), worksites, a garden terrace, and housing platforms.
You’ll certainly have some unique footage to take here with your drone, that’s for certain!
4. Waihee Ridge Trail
A spot famed for hiking, the Waihee Ridge Trail features forests, gorges, and mountains.
While you can always take some drone footage from the ground, we suggest walking along the trail to reach some of the dramatic cliffs and breathtaking footage.
It only takes about an hour to hike the entire trail, so you’re not going to spend all day here unless you want to.
As always, respect others who use the trail and give them a wide berth when flying your drone!
5. Po’olenalena Beach
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got Po’olenalena Beach.
Once a hidden gem that only the locals knew about, the beach’s popularity has grown in recent years. Its long stretch of sand makes it a great place to watch the sunset.
Lots of weddings are held here too!
You must plan your time accordingly. Arriving earlier in the day could allow you to get in and out before the crowds gather. Just don’t hang around later in the day, as the crowds will stick around to see the sunset.
Maui drone laws to know
As far removed as you may feel from the US when you’re in Hawaii, the island state still follows FAA drone laws, which means you must too.
Here’s an overview of some must-know laws to refresh your memory.
- You must carry a valid drone license suited to the type of flights you’re doing. Recreational pilots need a TRUST certificate and commercial pilots must have a Remote Pilot Certificate. Double-check that your license is valid, commercial pilots, as the Remote Pilot Certificate only lasts for two years.
- Register your drone. If you’re a commercial pilot, you have to do this regardless. If you’re a hobbyist, only register drones weighing 0.55 pounds and more.
- Do not operate your drone over 400 feet, even if you’re trying to avoid a blowhole water spray!
- You cannot use a drone weighing more than 55 pounds.
- Do not interrupt search and rescue operations, firefighting efforts, or law enforcement efforts with your drone.
- Maintain a visual line of sight on your drone at all times or have an observer in the distance who can do so for you.
- Stay at least five miles from the nearest airport.
- Never interrupt manned aircraft. Give them the right of way and make a safe landing nearby.
- Do not exceed speeds of 100 miles per hour with your drone.
Maui is an island at the top of many drone pilots’ bucket lists. Fortunately, you can use your drone throughout this island, but not near airports or national parks.
Have fun and follow FAA rules!