Hāna Advisory Against Visiting Wai‘oka and Kaihalulu in East Maui

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RELEASE DATE 3/3/24; Revision 3/22/24Updated from article submitted to Hānaside News on February 22, 2021

Hāna Advisory Against Visiting Wai‘oka and Kaihalulu in East Maui

Recommendations by Hoʻomakaukau Maui Hikina – ʻEast Maui Ready’ EMR Leadership

EMR is issuing a standing advisory requesting that both Waiʻoka and Kaihalulu areas be avoided when looking for recreational spots to visit in Maui Hikina (East Maui). As with the many non-sanctioned trails of both Maui Hikina and statewide, these areas are hit with high levels of emergency response calls. Please consider the impacts. We ask that hikers and site seekers visit only areas that are open to the public or managed by state and federal parks. East Maui is making strides in our diverse ahupuaʻa to change the narrative based on obvious impacts and with respect to our first responders, by listening to the ʻāina and with consideration to our knowledgeable resident voices. Only outdated misinformation will recommend going to these places – please do your part and share this advisory!

KAIHALULU – Landslides with recent rains and earthquakes in the last couple of weeks of February 2024 have caused the so-called ʻtrail’ to this puʻu (volcanic cone) to be extremely dangerous. The trail, coated with ironwood seeds, is slippery with sharp volcanic cinders; the shoreline is unstable and crosses private lands. Local emergency responders are regularly called to the area due to accidents and injuries. The area has no dedicated parking.

WAIʻOKA – A report from the Blue Water Task Force, a division of the Surfrider Foundation, shows test results with samples collected at Waiʻoka from January 31, 2024 dating back to Spring 2023, as having higher than recommended safe levels of Enterococcus bacteria based on Hawaiʻi State Department standards. (https://bwtf.surfrider.org/report/51/1205). The water at Waiʻoka has a natural rock boundary from the ocean that has been standing most recently since April 2021. This area is prone to flash flooding, which historically has resulted in injury and death from those unaware of the danger. The area has no dedicated parking.

East Maui has only one ambulance, and a limited police and fire department, dedicated to the 40-mile coastline of the Hāna District known as Maui Hikina (East Maui), stretching from Koʻolau to Kaupo. When our emergency responders have to deal with those who venture into areas which are not maintained for either community or visitor engagement, based on outdated misinformation, we put our residents at a grave risk. Because of this danger and for cultural respect to these lands, we are strongly advising, as an active constituency of emergency preparedness leaders, that the areas of Waiʻoka and Kaihalulu be removed from local and visitor itineraries!

As part of the Maui Nui Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP), Ke Aō Haliʻi (KAH) (www.savehanacoast.org), a local East Maui nonprofit organization, is collaborating with the Maui Visitor and Convention Bureau contracted through the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority with the Mālama Maui Hikina project. Beginning in the first half of 2024, teams led by KAH monitor the Kaihalulu and Waiʻoka sites, to engage in visitor surveys and education. KAH, owner and steward of the adjacent lands, is working with the community to build long-term management plans for these culturally significant sites.

Only visit places in Maui Hikina open to the public or managed by state and federal parks! 

For decades our dedicated leadership in East Maui has worked to mitigate disaster occurrences; involved community members currently meet as Hoʻomakaukau Maui Hikina – ‘East Maui Ready (EMR)’ on the last Wednesday of each month at 5pm. EMR works on building and sustaining a network of emergency preparedness throughout East Maui to assist in times of need. We maintain rescue tubes at both Kaihalulu and Waiʻoka as well as several other locations, and are continually working on ways to educate the public, stem misinformation, and inform, when there are emergency conditions. See the calendar listing on HānaMaui! if you would like to join in the EMR discussion and learn more at https://hanamaui.com/makaala/.

Other recent news references and past rescues from Kaihalulu and Waiʻoka: 


2/29/24 – 3 visitors rescued after falling from steep Kauai hiking trail

3/8/21 – Woman who lost husband, friend in flash flood says visitor education needed

2/20/19 – Five Rescued in Two Days at Kaihalulu in Hāna, Maui