Influencers Defy ‘No Photo’ Policy In Hawaii’s Most Instagramable Vacation Spot


Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden

Thousands of influencers flock to Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden in Hawaii, defying ‘no photo’ signs to capture the perfect Instagram shot. The garden, Oahu’s largest, is renowned for its picturesque entrance framed by lush palm trees and towering mountain ridges, a scene that went viral online.

Because of the Hoomaluhia botanical garden pictures, the garden’s visitor numbers skyrocketed from 250,000 in 2017 to over 550,000 by 2022, driven by social media fame. However, this surge of posts from influencers and normal tourists has led to safety concerns and traffic congestion as tourists ignore signs prohibiting photography and parking in certain areas. Many visitors stop their vehicles at the entrance, causing disruptions and risking accidents by snapping photos.

Joshlyn Sand, director of Honolulu Botanical Gardens, highlighted the persistent issues. “People will just ignore the signs. They’ll literally stage a photo right by the sign,” Sand told SFGATE. She recounted several near-misses and congestion problems due to halted vehicles at the garden’s entrance, which lacks pedestrian lanes or bike paths.

Despite the chaos at the entrance, photography is allowed in some Hoomaluhia botanical garden photo spots and elsewhere in the 400-acre garden, which features diverse plant collections and scenic spots like Nui and Lehua for unobstructed views of the Koolau mountains.

Efforts are underway to manage the influx of visitors through the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden photography permit and potential fees and reservation systems. Nathan Serota from the City and County of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation stressed the need to balance welcoming tourists and preserving natural beauty. “It’s about finding ways to manage these tourist destinations so they can be inviting while maintaining their natural beauty and environmental allure,” Serota said.

Sand urged visitors to be mindful and practice responsible tourism to preserve the garden’s tranquility and safety for future generations. The park aims to continue encouraging people to observe responsible tourism.

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