The State of Hawaii Department of Transportation's Harbors Division is the port authority for Kawaihae Harbor, one of the two deep-draft ports on Hawaii island. Kawaihae Harbor North has a pier, 11 moorings, a boat ramp, and a comfort station. Kawaihae Harbor South was under construction at the time of this writing to provide 73 berths.
Kawaihae Harbor contains two commercial piers with about 14 acres of space for cargo-handling and storage. There is also room for expansion. The Hawaii Commercial Harbors 2020 Master Plan calls for additional cargo space for inter-island and foreign cargo and the construction of a passenger terminal in Kawaihae Harbor.
The Harbors Division, State of Hawaii, owns and operates Kawaihae Harbor Pier 1 to receive and ship conventional and containerized general cargo, automobiles, and perishable foods and to receive lumber and cement. Kawaihae Harbor Pier 1 has berthing space of 125 meters (410 feet) with alongside depth of 6.1 meters (20 feet) MLW.
Young Brothers Limited has a 2.3 acre partly-paved storage area at the rear of the Pier that contains 20 refrigerated container positions. The Hawaiian Cement Corporation has two storage tanks with capacity for 3800 tons. Near Kawaihae Harbor Pier 1 is the North Boat Basin. About 76 meters (250 feet) square, recreational craft moor in the basin. The basin entrance is west of the Pier 1 wharf.
Kawaihae Harbor Pier 2 is also owned and operated by the Harbors Division. Used to ship and receive conventional and containerized general cargo and automobiles, Pier 2 also receives petroleum products and sends aggregate materials. Kawaihae Harbor Pier 2 has berthing space of 351 meters (1152 feet) with alongside depth of 10.7 meters (35 feet) MLW.
Matson Navigation Company has about 9 acres of open storage at the rear of Kawaihae Harbor Pier 2. Tosco Distribution Corporation has five storage tanks at the rear of the Pier with total capacity for 41 thousand barrels. Located about 23 meters (75 feet) south of Pier 2 are mooring facilities for recreational vessels. The South Small Boat Harbor is on a 61-by-2.4 meter (200-by-8 foot) timber pile with a timber-decked wharf.
While the State-owned piers are mainly used by civilian tugs and barges, the US Army also uses the Piers, with infantry divisions deploying equipment to Kawaihae Harbor for use at the Pohakuloa Training Area.
In recent years, cargo traffic at Kawaihae Harbor has increased greatly. In the 21st Century, population is growing, and resort areas are being developed around Kawaihae Harbor. Cargo is also being re-routed from Hilo Harbor. Both the deep-water port and the small boat basins at Kawaihae Harbor are under further development and expansion.