Haiku Stairs: Hawaii attraction to be removed following bad tourist behavior

CNN – The Haiku Stairs, an Oahu landmark often called the Stairway to Heaven, will be removed from the end of April.

Issues with the stairs – which were built during World War II by the US Navy and have been officially closed to the public since 1987 – have multiplied in the age of social media.

The Haiku Stairs are comprised of 3,922 steps twisting through a 2,800 foot mountain trail in Kaneohe in eastern Oahu.

Despite the dangerous terrain, YouTubers, TikTokers, thrill-seekers and other tourists continued to access the stairs.

“Due to rampant illegal trespassing, Haiku Stairs is a significant liability and expense for the city, and impacts the quality of life for nearby residents,” Honolulu City Council member Esther Kiaʻāina told Hawaii News Now.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

Work  to remove the stairs will take six months and cost $2.5 million.

The stair removal “prioritizes public safety, seeks to stop illegal trespassing on the stairs and nearby neighbors who have dealt with decades of disruptions and disturbances … ”


Haiku Stairs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“I can promise you that this was not a capricious decision … ”

Early history

The view from the top of the stairway overlooks Kaneohe as well as Kaneohe Bay.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

In 1942, contractors for the U.S. Navy began construction of the Haʻikū Radio Station, a top secret facility that was to be used to transmit radio signals to Navy ships that were then operating throughout the Pacific.

In order to obtain the necessary height for the antennae, the Navy stretched them across Haʻikū Valley, a natural amphitheater. Some remains of the wooden ladder may still be seen beside the metal steps.

The radio station was commissioned in 1943. To transmit such a powerful signal, the Navy needed a transmitter of greater capability than possible with vacuum tube technology at the time. They therefore decided upon an Alexanderson alternator, a huge device capable of generating powerful low-frequency radio signals, and requiring a large antenna.

When the Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay was transferred to the Marine Corps as Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay in the 1950s, the U.S. Coast Guard used the Haiku Radio Station site for an Omega Navigation System station.

In the mid-1950s, the wooden stairs were replaced by sections of metal steps and ramps — by one count, 3,922 steps. The Coast Guard allowed access in the 1970s but stopped after an appearance on Magnum P.I. increased visitation. The station and trail were closed to the public in 1987.

21st century

In 2003 with plans to reopen the stairs to the public, they were repaired at a cost to the city of $875,000.[6] With no public access available, nearby residents have experienced trespassing and litter on their property.[7][8] In early 2018, the City and County of Honolulu had stated that there was no plan to open the stairs for public use, citing liability concerns. Some hikers ignored the “no trespassing” signs and continued to climb, contributing to the local community’s misgivings about reopening the structure.[9]

In 2020, the Board of Water Supply released a final environmental impact statement that evaluated alternatives. The process collected comments through small-group and public meetings with various agencies, landowners, community organizations, and individuals.

It estimated that removal of the stairs could cost as much as $1 million. The board voted unanimously on April 27, 2020 to transfer the Haʻikū Stairs over to the city since the stairs were a liability that did not align with the agency’s mission. The city had 18 months to take over or the stairs would be torn down. The city anticipated operating the trail as a paid attraction.

The city took possession on July 1, 2020. After consideration of the significant liability and maintenance expense for the city along with the impacts to the quality of life for nearby residents, the City Manager was urged to remove the Haʻikū Stairs by non-binding Resolution 21-154, which was unanimously passed by the city council in September 2021. The budgeted cost to remove the stairs grew to $1.3 million.

Friends of Haiku Stairs, a volunteer group aimed at preserving the trail, objected to the decision, saying they have a plan managing safe public access and trespassing at no taxpayer cost.

The mayor said that removal will proceed as a high-use tourist attraction is inappropriate with an entrance through a residential neighborhood that lacks the room for necessary facilities such as parking.

The city announced in April 2024 that the nearly $2.6 million removal process would begin by the end of the month.

The contract to remove the stairs was awarded to Nakoa Companies, Inc. As of April 16 2024, it has been announced that it will be demolished. In his own words, Mayor Rick says “I can promise you that this was not a capricious decision,” in a statement.


- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -


- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -