‘Immediate safety threat’: Hawaii to tear down popular trespasser walking trail

Source: X/The Vacationator

Hawaii will remove a staircase trail made popular on social media after it led people off the beaten track.

The Haʻikū Stairs in Honolulu, which consists of 3922 steps, was built by the United States military during World War II and has been officially closed to the public since 1987.

That hasn’t stopped tourists and visitors to Hawaii looking for a picturesque spot from trespassing into an area local authorities said is an “immediate safety threat”.

“This was a decision, when we came into office, that was long overdue. Over the course of many months, in meeting with the people involved and the discovery that we put into it, I can promise you that this was not a capricious decision,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said.

“This decision that was made was predicated upon our respect for the people who live in and around the entrance to the stairs, our respect for our ʻāina, and our respect for both the future and the past history of the culture of the Haʻikū community.”

The stairs once led to a top-secret radio station and formerly allowed visitors, but were closed off after an appearance on Magnum, P.I. made it a tourist destination and raised safety concerns.

The trail leads to a World War II radio station. Photo: Getty

The six-month project to remove the staircase will cost more than $US2.5 million.

The removal of the stairs was necessary after the area became famous for YouTubers and TikTokers, who continued to access the stairs.

Despite its closure, an estimated 4000 people were visiting and traversing the trail each year.

The Haiku Stairs was one of the most popular trails in the area, despite being closed to the public. Photo: Getty

The council decided to remove the staircase after residents complained about people parking in their neighbourhoods, disrupting the area in the early morning, trespassing on private property and leaving rubbish and litter behind.

“Haʻikū Stairs is a significant liability and expense for the city, and impacts the quality of life for nearby residents,” a Honolulu City Council member told CNN.

The only serious injury or death occurred in 2012 when a comedian died of a heart attack during a climb.

Hawaii isn’t the only tourist destination to have been dealing with the fallout from poor behaviour, often with social media at the forefront.

A viral video showing a tourist from Britain carving a love note into the wall of Rome’s Colosseum sparked outrage last year, while a 17-year-old was also filmed scratching her initials into a 2000-year-old amphitheatre for social media clout last year.

Indonesia has been clamping down on bad behaviour from tourists in destinations like Bali, launching an advertising campaign in 2023 telling tourists to “respect Balinese cultural customs”.

An influencer was arrested the same year after posing naked next to a 700-year-old tree considered sacred by the local Balinese people, while an Australian man was arrested over a drunken rampage in which he assaulted people near a surf resort.

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