How Does Scattering Cremated Ashes Work in Hawaii?

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Hawaii is, by far, one of the most beautiful places on planet earth. Thousands of tourists visit every year to walk the sandy beaches, learn about the culture, and snorkel in aqua waters. The chain of islands is a destination location for weddings, anniversaries, reunions, and even death.

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Not only can you get married on the sandy beaches, but you can have your ashes scattered over the rolling mountainsides that make up the volcano state. Hawaii is a perfect place to scatter ashes for those who want to remain in paradise forever. 

Can You Take Cremated Remains to Hawaii?

There are two ways to get a loved one’s cremains to Hawaii: take them yourself or ship them. 

Flying

If you plan to fly with cremains, check with the airline before purchasing tickets. The Federal Transportation Security Agency allows you to fly with cremains in your carry-on luggage or a checked bag, but individual airlines may not. Some airlines allow cremains to travel in the cabin with special requirements.

Shipping

When shipping cremains, you’ll need to follow USPS guidelines, including:

When shipping, the only carrier legally allowed to transport cremains is the United States Postal Service. That means FedEx, UPS, and other shipping companies are not allowed to ship cremated remains. If you try, your shipment will be stopped and returned to you rather than forwarded to its intended destination.

ยป MORE: Have you lost someone? Here is your full checklist of next steps.


Are You Allowed to Scatter Ashes in Hawaii?

Hawaii is a beautiful destination for everything from weddings to ash scattering ceremonies. You are legally allowed to scatter ashes in numerous places around the beautiful islands, including private property, state property, and federal lands. 

Depending on the location you want for the scattering ceremony, you might need to obtain permission or a permit. In general, here are a few rules to follow:

If you own a piece of land, you can hold a scattering ceremony without obtaining a permit. For scattering on someone else’s private land, you need only to obtain the landowner’s permission. Scattering is also allowed in state and national parks.

Permit requirements vary depending on the size of your gathering. In general, gatherings of 14 people or more require a permit. For scattering ceremonies with fewer than 14 people, no permit is required.

How Do You Scatter Ashes in Hawaii?

There are three main places people go to scatter ashes — beaches, at sea, and in the interior. As long as you follow local guidelines, many places on the island are available for scattering ceremonies. For ceremonies with over 14 people, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation. Permits are free.

At the beach

Scattering ashes at the beach is a popular way to bid your loved one goodbye. Depending on the time of year, some beaches might be off-limits during tourist season. If you want a private or semi-private beach for your scattering ceremony, read through the list of locations for scattering below.

Some beaches rarely have tourists, while others will be jam-packed. In general, it’s best to stay away from popular tourist beaches during high-season. Off-season, many beaches are empty, providing you with privacy.

At sea

Scattering ceremonies at sea can occur so long as you’re three nautical miles away from the shore. If planning a scattering ceremony with several boats, a free permit is required from the Hawaii Department of Land Resources. You’re also required to notify the Environmental Protection Agency within 30 days of the scattering ceremony that you will be scattering human cremains at sea. 

If the scattering ceremony involves a vessel that contains the ashes, the vessel must be biodegradable. All non-biodegradable urns must be disposed of on land.

It’s always best to read up on the latest scattering ashes laws so you’re up to date with current information before planning the ceremony and choosing your location.

On a mountainside

Many places in Hawaii offer stunning views and vistas of the ocean, volcanoes, and lush landscape. You can hike up mountainsides, walk miles of trails, and summit near the tops of volcanoes. Every trail varies in intensity, so check before you choose. Mountain trails are incredibly rewarding and have vistas and scenic resting spots where ashes can be scattered.

What Are the Best Places to Scatter Ashes in Hawaii?

Hawaii is well-known for its vistas, volcanoes, hikes, beaches, and snorkeling. Nearly everywhere you look, there is beauty. There are many beautiful and inexpensive things to do with ashes, such as scattering them in a place your loved one enjoyed when it comes to Hawaii.

North Shore, Oahu

If your loved one was a fan of surfing, Oahu’s North Shore is the perfect place to scatter ashes. Most tourists stay in the main city of Honolulu. This makes the North Shore less traveled and a bit more private for a beach scattering ceremony. If you go during winter, you’re sure to see the famous waves that surfers travel many miles to enjoy.

Na Pali Coast, Kauai

The Na Pali coastline is recognized by people worldwide because the rugged terrain was predominantly featured in the classic film Jurassic Park. The Garden Isle’s sheer cliffs are covered with lush green growth and end abruptly, creating isolated, pristine beaches. This location is ideal for scattering ashes both at the beach or along one of the many hiking trails on the island.

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Waimea Canyon is also known as the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. Similar in size to Arizona’s attraction, the stunning landscape is covered in lush green vegetation and shifting shadows from clouds above. As far as the eye can see, there is beauty.

Whether you choose to scatter ashes into the wind from the edge of the canyon or while hiking one of the many trails, your relative is sure to enjoy their final resting place in Hawaii’s paradise on earth. This has to be one of the most beautiful places to scatter ashes.

Lanikai Beach, Oahu

In Hawaiian, Lanikai means “heavenly sea,” and heaven is certainly what comes to mind when you visit this location just thirty minutes outside of Honolulu. Though popular with tourists, there are plenty of isolated spots on the beach to hold a scattering ceremony.

This is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. If several people are flying in and staying locally for the ceremony, Lanikai beach also has the added benefit of being a short drive from Honolulu’s most desirable beaches and resorts.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

You can’t get more “Hawaii” than volcanoes. At Volcanoes National Park, you’ll get up close and personal with two of them — Kilauea and Mauna Loa. These are active volcanoes, and you just might see lava oozing into the ocean. When visiting the national park, hike or take a drive along Crater Rim Road. Here, the vistas are unbelievable and form a perfect backdrop to scatter your loved one’s ashes.

Molokai Island

As one of the least developed of the Hawaiian islands, the rugged terrain and stunning landscapes are rarely traveled by tourists. If you want a private ash scattering ceremony, this is the island to visit.

Papohaku Beach rarely has more than a couple dozen people at any given time, making it entirely possible to find a somewhat secluded spot. Between the beach, the palm trees, hiking paths, and aqua waves, you’re sure to find the perfect place to scatter your loved one’s ashes.

Kalalau Trail, Kawai

Hiking enthusiasts will love the Kalalau trail, but it’s not for the faint of heart. If your loved one enjoyed hiking and camping, this could be the perfect place to scatter their ashes.

The Kalalau Trail consists of a 22-mile loop. One of its most magnificent features is a camping site on the beach mid-loop. The beach is located in one of the most remote parts of Hawaii and is the perfect private setting for a scattering ceremony.

You can also scatter ashes at any of the several lookout spots, resting areas, and scenic vistas along the hiking trails.

Haleakala National Park, Maui

Over half of Maui is formed by a shield volcano — the Haleakala. It rises to a height of 10,000 feet, and you can hike all over the area. The crater is an incredible attraction that looks more like a lunar landscape than the island of Hawaii.

The park offers hiking trails where you can locate stunning vistas, natural pools, and a 400-foot waterfall. Any one of these locations at the national park would be an ideal location for scattering the ashes of your loved one.

Akaka Falls State Park, Hawaii

If waterfalls and lush rainforests are more your thing, then you’ll want to head with your loved one’s cremains to Akaka Falls State Park. Located on the Big Island, there are several waterfalls to explore, miles of hiking trails, and lush vegetation. The trail that takes you to waterfalls is less than a mile, but very steep and may not be best for small children or older folks. 

Saying Goodbye in Paradise

Hawaii’s combination of aqua waters, white sandy beaches, lush mountains, and active volcanoes form paradise. When it comes time to say goodbye to your loved one, you certainly can’t go wrong by choosing to scatter their ashes in one of the most beautiful places on earth.


Sources:
  1. “Burial at Sea.” Ocean Dumping, Environmental Protection Agency, 2021. epa.gov/ocean-dumping/burial-sea
  2. “How to Package and Ship Cremains.” Publication 139, United States Postal Service, September 2019. about.usps.com/publications/pub139.pdf
  3. “Rules of Practice and Procedure Relating to Burial Sites and Human Remains.” Hawaii Administrative Rules, Department of Land and Natural Resources, 2021. files.hawaii.gov/dlnr/shpd/forms/burrules.PDF
  4. “Cremated Remains.” What Can I Bring? Transportation Security Administration, 2021. tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/cremated-remains

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