Hawaii Drone Laws 2020 (How To Fly Legally)

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hawaii drone lawsHawaii is one of the few places in the world that can rightly be called a paradise. This island US state is a prime holiday destination and there’s a lot of scenery and activities for drone photographers to drool over.

If you live in Hawaii or plan to visit, then you should really familiarise yourself with local drone laws. If not, you could find your vacation be less than pleasurable.

Disclaimer: We aren’t legal experts here at Drone Guru, we’re just passionate about drones. So it remains your responsibility to make sure you comply with all laws that pertain to your drone in the place you want to fly it.

Hawaii’s State Drone Laws

General Restrictions

Hawaii is looking at implementing a number of laws that will restrict drone use in ways we’ve seen before. These are pretty typical and (for the most part) reasonable restrictions. They include flight bans near sensitive infrastructure not already covered by federal laws. There’s also the common ban on weaponizing drones with things like knives and guns. Proposed laws will also limit what the police are allowed to do with drone technology, mainly with the aim of protecting citizens’ rights.

In order to operate a drone for any business purposes (to make money) in the United States you will need a license.

This is called a Remote Pilot Certificate.

Remote Pilot Prep Course

The Prep Course by Drone Launch Academy is comprehensive and fairly priced. 

They’re so confident  they’ll give your money back as well as the $150 test fee if you should fail. 

Flying Over Public Parks and Beaches

This one is a bit of a bummer, but Hawaii is trying to pass laws that would prohibit taking off, landing or flying over a public beach or park without first getting permission. Since these two areas are presumably two places where a lot of people would want to fly in the first place, it might throw a spanner in the works.

Flight Restrictions

If they pass into law, drone pilots in Hawaii are facing several flight restrictions. Apart from compliance with the FAA, you’ll have to keep several additional rules in mind.

Flying below 250 feet over private property will only be OK if you get permission first. You also won’t be allowed to do night flying or let the drone go beyond your line of sight.

There’s also another law that might raise the flight ceiling over private property to 500 feet, under which you’d need permission to fly over. Yet another trespass law might set the flight

Hawaii might also pass a law that will require liability insurance before you are allowed to fly anywhere.

Privacy Restrictions

Potential laws are also set to expand existing privacy laws so that they include drone photography. If you don’t have a person’s consent, you won’t be allowed to photograph them or otherwise collect information on anyone without explicit consent.

Crimes Aided by Drones

Another interesting proposed law deals with crimes that are aided by using drones. Criminals have taken to using drones to drop off packages, do surveillance and counter-surveillance or aid in crime in other ways. I if passed, a new law will make the penalties for a crime more severe if a drones was used.

Final Thoughts

Hawaii is such a beautiful destination that it seems a pity so many drone restrictions are in the pipeline. Don’t let that get you down however. Just get all the legal requirements out of the way and enjoy flying in one of the most desirable locations in the world!

20 thoughts on “Hawaii Drone Laws 2020 (How To Fly Legally)”

  1. Thanks the information you have provided me is great I checked local drone laws in Hawaii and there are non for 2018. Only model planes are banned from flying in public parks not drones.

    • Why isn’t a drone considered a model airplane. I guess the question is, why are model airplanes banned, and how do they differ from a drone?

  2. Many of us don’t like the sight or sound of a drone marring the beautiful landscape of a beach where we are trying to get some rest or enjoy nature. I will be grateful when Hawaii passes laws restricting drone flights at beaches and parks.

    • I, personally, am very sensitive to where I fly and what I shoot…not only for public safety, but also because of the noise. I am coming to Maui in a week and I’m bringing my drone for photography. I intend to only fly it in remote areas, and not for very long (10 mins tops) at a time. I understand that they creep people out and they’re loud, and I want to respect the public and the land itself. If that means I only get to fly it a few times, so be it. I consider it a privilege, not a right, to be able to photograph what I consider the most beautiful, peaceful place on Earth. I like to think most photo-droners share my respect.

      Please folks – if you take your drone to Hawaii, or any other place where people want a relaxing environment, keep the Aloha Spirit and respect the people and the land. It’s beautiful from the air, but don’t treat it as open domain.

    • It’s already against the law to fly in national and state parks in Hawaii. This write up is inaccurate and misleading.

      • Correct. The FAA all the airspace from the tiniest fraction of an inch above the ground and you must abide by the FAA’s rules while flying. No state can make rules about airspace. Period. A state, county, or city CAN make rules about where you can LAUNCH and LAND (but not fly over) your UAS and some make it more difficult than others.

  3. Personally, I operate my drone when there are no other people in the vicinity. Operating a drone in a public park should not be restricted. Why can’t I also enjoy the use of the public park if I’m not bothering anyone?

    • I was in Ahalanui hot pond before the volcano made it impassible. I came out of the water to find a drone in my face! We do need laws.

    • Michael wrote: “….why can’t I….”
      Because it’s the taxpayers air and the taxpayers park and the taxpayers (through their representatives) said your can’t. That’s why…..It’s called democratic rule and if you don’t like it then move to Russia.

      • If its the taxpayers air, why can buildings buy air rights to prevent their view from being obstructed?

    • Good for you but on sunset beach we have drones coming up on our property spying on women in the out door shower. And the noise in the beach sitting next to it is very annoying.

  4. Not sure where you’re getting your info. But this write up is inaccurate. There are indeed drone laws in Hawaii. No flying in any state or national parks or natual reserves. Not to mention the usual airport zone stuff. Do your research before spreading misinformation.

    • “Apart from compliance with the FAA…” That literally covers the state parks and reserves and airport information. If only you could actually read you’d know that.

  5. Not allowing drones over “public beaches” in Hawaii would really create issues, since the law in Hawaii states that all beaches are public….couple that with the fact that the definition of “beach” can be a loose one, and we may find that it is illegal to fly a drone anywhere near the coast.

  6. Unfortunately many drone “pilots” will ruin it for others. Whether it’s commercial use or just for fun, common courtesy and respect should apply. In Hawaii you can’t fly in any National Parks, I haven’t read that about the beaches however there are rules against flying over top of pedestrians without their consent. They must be under a hard structure. If your a drone pilot and fly a lot get your 107 remote pilots license and learn about the rules and regulations to allow this industry to grow.

  7. Wow! Do drone haters actually look for places to flame drone opperators. It is against the law to launch in any national park in the USA without written permission. State parks depend on the state.. As a rule for myself i check airmap and see what laws apply. Also people that comment tax payers this and public that? Well drone opperators are also pay taxes and are members of the public and you should remember that. I surfed for 40 years and i hated when tourist would come and leave their trash behind. There are laws against littering but people still litter. Anyhow, just a heads up to drone opperators on the north shore. I was advised by the park rec at Alii beach park. That Haleiwa has an ordinance against flying drones on city property and the beach park is a city park.

  8. P P on this place…….. just get Youtube videos and end other people’s videos. Way too much hassle. I M H O…….

  9. Thanks for the info, is there an update about the current Hawaii state/county regulations, where to look?

  10. I have no problem with reasonable rules. Drone pilots have to consider both the safety and the privacy of others. That said, we live in a country where tens of thousands of people die from guns each year, and there are essentially no limitations on them, while no one has ever died from a drone accident. Every state needs to clearly map areas where drones can be responsibly operated. Every time I go on vacation, I bring my drone, and spend days researching the murky information about where I can and can’t fly. Combine that complexity with the fact that most people are entirely ignorant of the laws ( including city and state governments ), it forces drone pilots to take risks that are unnecessary. Bottom line is that ONLY the Federal Government has any say in where you can fly. The Federal Government has the sole authority, from one foot above the ground, of where you can fly. All other authorities can only limit where you can launch and land. In Hawaii, State Law states you are prohibited from flying in a state park. No state has the authority to do that. They can only say you can’t launch or land there. Still, no drone pilot should fly where they aren’t wanted, so each state needs to set aside places which are drone friendly. Just my opinion.

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