Public facilities overwhelmed at Hanakapi’ai Beach

According to some campers and hikers, facilities at Hanakapi’ai Beach’s campground area are atrocious.

Piles of trash block parts of the trail. There are no signs directing people how to get to Hanakapi’ai Falls or further down Na Pali Coast-Kalalau Trail.

A single bathroom is so filthy most people wouldn’t let loved ones use it.

Wayne Souza, state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks Kaua’i district superintendent, said the toilet suffers from overuse, and that trash is what campers and hikers are supposed to pack out with them, but are leaving behind.

Campers are left with few options in terms of areas to pitch their tents, as the Hanakoa campground between Kalalau and Hanakapi’ai has been closed to camping for three years due to a lack of any bathroom facilities.

That leaves Hanakapi’ai and Kalalau as legal places to camp, and that has led to overuse of Hanakapi’ai, the first campground around two miles along the trail from Ke’e Beach at Ha’ena State Park.

A composting toilet has been placed at Hanakoa, and as soon as state Department of Health permits have been acquired, Hanakoa will reopen for camping, with the plan to close Hanakapi’ai to camping after Hanakoa reopens, Souza said.

A single, composting toilet at Hanakapi’ai is filthy and not maintained, said Michael Paul Spinello, who in his four years living on Kaua’i camped most of that time in either Kalalau or Hanakapi’ai.

He said visitors to Hanakapi’ai are “aghast” about the conditions of the bathroom, surrounded by bags of trash. An old toilet not in use anymore is full of trash and rats, bags of trash block parts of the trail, and there are no signs about how to get to the falls or continue along the trail to Kalalau, he said.

Spinello said the composting toilet was cleaned only once in four months that he was at Hanakapi’ai, and then the deposits left in the toilet were simply dumped onto the ground in an area behind the toilet.

Souza explained that if the toilet is working properly, the only thing that comes out of the toilet when it’s cleaned is a fertilizer-like, composted material that is safe to dispose of on the ground.

Compounding parks maintenance woes is not only a cut in the maintenance budget, but a continuing drought which sends piles of topsoil down, covering trails and requiring emergency maintenance from crews that need to be flown in by helicopters.

Souza was recently informed that the cost of a charter helicopter has gone from $650 an hour to $725 an hour.

Because of the drought conditions, which caused a shortage of vegetation and hence flows of topsoil covering parts of the popular trail, crews this summer had to make several helicopter trips along the coast to do emergency repairs to the trail, mainly between Hanakoa and Kalalau valleys, Souza said.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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