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Can You Bring a Drone to Hawaii? (Read this First)

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Drones are so amazing to bring to the beach and to a vacation on a tropical island especially if you are planning to use the drone to capture amazing sights and views while also taking aerial photos of yourself from the most amazing angles. This is why you might want to think about bringing your drone with you if you’re headed on a vacation to Hawaii. Then again, can you even bring a drone to Hawaii?

You can legally bring a drone to Hawaii because there aren’t any restrictions that would prevent you from doing so. However, before flying your drone in Hawaii, you have to make sure that you follow the FAA’s rules regarding drones, and also follow Hawaii’s state and local laws concerning drones.

Each state is free to enact specific laws in relation to drones, in addition to the federal laws that cover drone use in all states. As such, Hawaii has its own state laws that you need to follow. That’s not to say that you will be prohibited from bringing your drone with you or from flying it as long as you are following the laws and flying in approved areas.

Can you bring a drone to Hawaii? #

Today, lots of people are using their drones for different reasons, whether it’s for recreational or commercial use. There are recreational drone pilots who fly their drones to have fun out in the open and even at the beach where they can take beautiful photos of the scenery and even take aerial videos of themselves surfing.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone at the Beach?

Meanwhile, for those who want to take their drones out to the beach or a tropical island for commercial purposes, there are plenty of reasons you may need to do so, including taking professional photos of the landscape or doing something that’s related to your job especially if you are a reporter or journalist or a person surveying the landscape of a beach or tropical island.

Simply put, there are plenty of different ways you can use your drone if you do ever plan on taking a vacation somewhere that’s full of beaches and amazing scenery all over the island. And when you think of a place like that, one of the first places that comes to mind of course is Hawaii, which is one of the best tropical island vacation spots in the world.

It certainly is a good idea to take a drone to Hawaii on your next vacation because you will be able to take photos of yourself out on the beach or even use the drone to capture amazing sights and sounds that can only be found in Hawaii. 

But one thing you need to understand here is that the rules that govern drones in Hawaii may not be the same as the ones found in the mainland United States or even in your own state. That’s because, while the federal laws regarding drones do apply in Hawaii, the state of Hawaii itself is free to adopt its own laws regarding drones on top of the federal laws that you need to follow. 

The good news here is that, yes, you can bring a drone to Hawaii because there are no laws that will prevent you from bringing your drone. Just keep in mind that Hawaii does have its own state laws regarding what you can do with a drone once you are there. While you may certainly bring a drone to Hawaii, you still need to make sure that you are following both the federal laws and the state laws in relation to drone flight.

» MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with a Drone

What are the drone laws in Hawaii? #

Before we talk about the specific drone laws in Hawaii, let’s do a quick refresher course on the general federal drone laws that apply everywhere in the US, and that you still need to follow once you get to Hawaii. After all, Hawaii is still part of the United States.

General drone laws #

  • If you are flying a drone that’s at least 250 grams, you have to register it with the FAA first. Drones under 250 grams are not required to be registered.
  • Make sure that you are flying at or below 400 feet because there are still commercial airplane activities beyond but close to 400 feet.
  • Only fly your drone within your line of sight. This basically means that when you are flying your drone you should be able to see it with your naked eye and not with the help of a camera or any other aid (other than glasses).
  • Don’t fly in places that are considered restricted airspace. Places that are classified as restricted airspace include near airports, Washington DC, stadiums or sporting events, or any security-sensitive areas.
  • You shouldn’t be flying your drones near any other aircraft or within 5 miles from an airport.
  • Don’t fly your drone over groups of people because you might end up injuring them if your drone crashes.
  • You shouldn’t be flying your drone near any emergency response efforts such as fires or natural disaster areas. That’s because your drone may end up disrupting the efforts of the responders.
  • Don’t fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is quite obvious.

The abovementioned are only some of the most common general rules that you still need to follow once you get to Hawaii because these are federal drone laws that apply to any state all over the entire US.

Hawaii local drone laws #

So, aside from the fact that you need to make sure you are complying with the usual federal drone laws that apply to all of the states in the US, you should also know what the local Hawaii laws are that you have to follow once you get to Hawaii. 

First off, you are not allowed to fly or launch your drone in any of Hawaii’s state parks. This is similar to how you are not allowed to fly a drone in any of the national parks in the mainland United States. The reason for this is that drones can disrupt the balance and serenity of the wildlife living in these parks.

Another specific drone law that you need to follow is in relation to the security-sensitive areas in Hawaii. Because Hawaii is home to so many government and military facilities, you are also not allowed to fly your drone near any of these installations.

Also, take note that the Big Island in Hawaii is home to many restricted areas such as airports, state parks, and volcano zones. That means that you may find it very difficult to find a spot on the Big Island to fly your drone. 

While some of these restrictions may not be specific only to Hawaii, the presence of many different restricted airspaces and natural parks and phenomena in Hawaii can make it very difficult for you to fly your drone without breaking any rules.

So, while you may not be prevented from bringing your drone with you to Hawaii, you still have to be very careful about where you fly, and you won’t be able to always fly your drone whenever you are visiting, as those areas may fall under restricted airspace.

Where to fly your drone in Hawaii? #

There are lots of spectacular places to capture videos and photos in Hawaii. You can get epic videos of your surfing adventures, sea kayaking, kite surfing, and more. Or you can film stunning sunsets or pristine beaches. There are tons of places all around the islands to get these kinds of shots.

The main things to look out for are national parks, state parks, and other restricted airspaces. If you’re not sure whether the place you are wanting to fly your drone falls within restricted airspace, a great resource to find out is the FAA’s b4ufly app, which will show you on a map in real-time whether you are permitted to fly in a certain place. 

Some visitors complain that most areas are off-limits for drones. But the truth is that there are still plenty of spectacular locations where you can fly your drone. Here are a few of the most popular and approved to fly your drone places in Hawaii:

  • Sandy Beach State Park, Oahu
  • Poolenalena Beach, Maui
  • Nakalele Blowhole and Sweetheart Rock, Maui
  • Hanauma Bay, Oahu
  • Waimea Waterfall, Oahu
  • Kaiaka Bay Beach, Oahu

Just keep in mind the general FAA rules of flight, and be aware and courteous of others nearby. 

Are you required to have a Part 107 to fly a drone in Hawaii? #

Just like any other state in the United States, you are not required to be a certified remote pilot or to pass the Part 107 licensure exam for you to be able to fly a drone to Hawaii, as long as you are planning to fly recreationally. As such, if you are merely a hobbyist who wants to take a vacation in the Hawaiian islands, there is no need for you to secure a Part 107 certification as long as you are only going to fly your drone recreationally.

Meanwhile, if you are someone who is looking to fly your drone for commercial purposes in Hawaii such as taking aerial surveys or doing journalism work, then you have to secure a Part 107 certification for you to be able to do so. As such, you should pass the Part 107 licensure exam in order to become a certified remote pilot. 

» MORE: How to Become a Professional Drone Pilot

In all other cases, the general rules regarding drone flight will apply to both recreational and commercial drone pilots with the exception that commercial pilots are allowed to fly their drones for purposes other than mere recreation or hobby.


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