Aloha! Welcome to the official website for the Honolulu Harbor Master Plan Update.
Our Honolulu Harbor
Since pre-contact times, when Honolulu Harbor was known as “Ke ‘Awa O Kou” (the harbor of Kou) and seafaring Hawaiians preferred Waikīkī’s oceanfront to the deep-water harbor for landing their shallow-draft outrigger canoes, waterborne transportation has been central to Hawai‘i’s way of life, economic well-being and identity. As a remote island community, Hawai‘i remains essentially dependent on maritime transport for the movement of people, materials and goods that sustain and enhance the State’s economic prosperity and quality of life.
Today, Honolulu Harbor annually handles over 12 million tons of cargo, including daily essentials such as food and commercial goods that stock our store shelves, as well as less obvious necessities such as aggregate and other construction materials; jet fuel for private, commercial and military aircraft; automobiles; and equipment and machinery for local industry. Honolulu Harbor is the critical central hub of the State’s commercial harbor system; all overseas imports arrive at Honolulu Harbor before being distributed to the neighbor islands, and most cargo transported between the mainland U.S. and the Hawaiian Islands passes through Honolulu Harbor before moving on to its final destination. The maritime services that the harbor provides are crucial to the State’s population as about 80 percent of Hawai‘i’s goods and materials are imported, of which more than 95 percent arrive by ship through Honolulu Harbor.
The Honolulu Harbor Master Plan Update
To ensure that the primary port-of-entry into the State is prepared to meet the future needs of our community and of the maritime industry, the Department of Transportation, Harbors Division (DOT-H) has embarked on the Honolulu Harbor Master Plan Update (Master Plan), which will update the previous, Oahu Commercial Harbors 2020 Master Plan completed in 1997. The Master Plan will serve as a critical tool for the strategic development of Honolulu Harbor in terms of its use, infrastructure improvements, and optimization of the port and its facilities to best serve the future cargo handling, storage and distribution requirements for both overseas and inter-island maritime transportation, as well as non-cargo maritime operations such as fishing, passenger and maritime support services. The Master Plan will consider current requirements and challenges with Honolulu Harbor, as well as anticipated user needs and projections to guide new development and harbor usage over its planning horizon.
The Master Plan is being developed through a public outreach program involving maritime and non-maritime stakeholders including harbor users, adjacent landowners, government agencies, civic organizations and the public. The planning process will follow three general phases of work:
Research, Data Gathering and Studies
User surveys and questionnaires
Consultation with stakeholders
Input from industry professionals
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Master Plan alternatives will be developed through a series of meetings with stakeholders and the public based on the information, issues and opportunities identified in Phase 1.
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Draft and Final Master Plan
Alternatives will be vetted and refined with input from stakeholders and the public. The recommended preferred alternatives will be formulated into a master plan that balances the various demands of the harbor and that represents the best interest of the State.
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The planning process will be guided by the following principles. For complete descriptions of the planning principles →
DOT-H is committed to ensuring that the planning process is transparent. Planning analysis, alternatives development, criteria used for decision-making, and the decision-making process will be documented and open to public review.
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DOT-H is committed to ensuring that the planning process and outcomes are equitable. Project information and opportunities to participate in the planning process will be accessible to all interested stakeholders and members of the community. Master Plan alternatives will be well-balanced and provide opportunities for all harbor users to fairly compete and prosper.
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DOT-H is committed to a data-driven planning process. Alternatives development and recommendations will rely on unbiased, quantifiable outcomes-based data derived from a systematic assessment involving cargo capacity analysis, market forecast, demand projections and a technical assessment of harbor needs.
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supports dot-h's mission
The Master Plan preferred alternatives must support the DOT-H mission:
To effectively improve and manage a commercial harbors system that facilitates safe and efficient operations of commercial cargo, passenger, fishing, and other commercial maritime-related services and support activities within the State of Hawai‘i and which serves to sustain and enhance the State’s economic prosperity and quality of life.
Key Frequently Asked Questions
did you know...
For the complete Frequently Asked Questions list. →
Who owns Honolulu Harbor?
The majority of the wharves and adjacent fast lands surrounding the harbor, with few exceptions, and all surface water areas within Honolulu Harbor are owned by the State of Hawai‘i. DOT-H is responsible for efficient utilization of harbor facilities and lands, and for facilitating the conduct of maritime business with the public. Private operators occupy, use and invest in the State’s lands and port facilities through a variety of mechanisms, including permits, leases, rental agreements, and as directed by the Harbor Master.
Who manages Honolulu Harbor?
DOT-H is the port authority for Honolulu Harbor. DOT-H seeks to provide an efficient, accessible, and safe inter-modal system to both ensure the mobility of goods and people, and enhance quality of life and economic prosperity. To this end, DOT-H is responsible for planning and designing, building and maintaining, and operating State maritime transportation facilities and infrastructure, and for coordinating with other agencies in these activities. DOT-H is also responsible for efficient utilization of harbor facilities and lands, and for facilitating the conduct of maritime business with the public. DOT-H’s responsibilities are mandated by Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Chapter 266 Harbors.
Who pays for harbor improvements?
Your tax dollars are not used to pay for harbor improvements. Instead, either cash or bond sales are used to fund capital improvement program (CIP) projects at the harbor. Revenue to support financing comes from the DOT-H’s Special Fund, which originates from shipping fees (wharfage, dockage, port entry fees, mooring charges, demurrage, cleaning and other harbor fees) rentals and lease fees. Wharfage and leases are the largest sources of revenue.
Ultimately, as consumers we all pay for harbor improvements through shipping costs passed on in prices of consumer goods that we rely on for our economic well-being and quality of life. For this reason, it’s important to pro-actively plan for harbor improvements and modernization that will ensure the harbor operates reliably, efficiently and productively.
Who is the Master Plan Client?
The Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation, Harbors Division, and ultimately, the people of the State of Hawai‘i.
Approximate number of vehicles that passed through Honolulu Harbor in 2016.
Approximate number of cruise passengers arriving and departing from Honolulu Harbor in 2016.