A Queen’s Bath dilemma

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    Ducking around the chain link fence and ignoring the locked gate and “danger” and “no trespassing” sign, hundreds of people per day hike to Queen’s Bath in Princeville, according to neighbors.

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    Hundreds of people a day duck around the chain-link fence and ignore the “danger” and “no trespassing” sign at Queen’s Bath in Princeville, when the gate is locked.

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    “No parking” signs line the area by the Queen’s Bath trailhead in Princeville.

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    A well-worn path extends from the street around the fence at Queen’s Bath in Princeville. It’s a path people use when the gate across the main trailhead is locked.

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    People walk around the end of the fence at Queen’s Bath, ignoring “danger” and “no trespassing” signs.

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    Vehicles wait their turn for a parking spot as a golf cart zips past and bicycles wait for hikers to return from Queen’s Bath in Princeville last week.

PRINCEVILLE — An ocean-access debate rages again in Princeville, with a committee of concerned residents and the Princeville at Hanalei Community Association uniting to find a safe solution for iconic Queen’s Bath.

Handmade and PCHA-generated signs warn of the dangers as you walk along the muddy, rocky trail, but big waves along the cliffs and at Queen’s Bath itself have still pulled people into the ocean, as chronicled in a recent YouTube video. Many individuals have passed away over the decades, and in the name of safety PCHA put a chain-link fence across the trailhead in last October.

Signs say the gate is locked when the area is unsafe and crossing the fence is trespassing. County officials say they open the gate when the treacherous conditions have passed. Less than a day later, according to residents, people were walking around the end of the fence and ignoring all of the warnings.

On several occasions, residents have placed crude signs warning all who take to the trail of the number of people who have died from getting swept out of Queen’s Bath.

In December PCHA extended the fence. It didn’t help. The situation remains. Neighbors estimate 200 to 300 daily visitors walk around the fence on a well-worn path that eventually connects with the main trail.

“That gate has been locked since the beginning of April,” said Ian Miles, staring from his dining-room table at the chain-link fence and the early afternoon throng of visitors walking around it. “It’s creating a disrespect for authority.”

He’s one of several neighbors who watches the action at the Queen’s Bath trailhead daily. He has story after story of people, mostly vacationers, following the crowd around the end of the fence, and even lifting people over the fence to get to the trail.

“The fence obviously isn’t helping anyone,” said Randy Kotsol, another resident who is part of the committee.

And while residents are concerned about the safety — Miles has rescued three people from Queen’s Bath himself over the last 30 years — they’re also concerned about blocking off access to a place that’s part of Kauai’s history as a fertile fishing ground.

Hawaii law, HRS statute 115-3, mandates public rights of way to the shoreline at “a distance at reasonable intervals taking into consideration the topography and physical characteristics of the land the public is desirous of reaching.”

The people who live in the vicinity of the trail don’t want a complete closure.

“No one wants to lose the easements. If we close these things down, it’s forever,” Miles said. “We need to honor the past, take care of the present and preserve for the future generations.”

Public access isn’t technically blocked off because it’s a legal right of way when the gate is open, but members of the Queen’s Bath committee fear the gate will just remain closed indefinitely.

They say there’s a better way.

“We need to educate people that are coming out here. It has to be an opportunity to learn things like don’t take your eyes off the ocean — about the nature of the ocean,” Miles said. “We need education and we need better signs, ones that aren’t knocked over as soon as a set comes through.”

Videos and other material are available about ocean safety through various channels and are aired at Lihue Airport’s baggage claim areas. Committee members say one option to help save lives is to make similar materials specifically about Queen’s Bath.

Closing off the parking lot instead of the trailhead is the other suggestion of the committee, which would also cut down on the traffic and parking disaster that ensues daily.

Kotsol points out heavy traffic in the area as well, and says it adds to the crowds of people on vacation in Princeville, which is a Visitor Destination Area where vacation rentals are allowed.

Meetings were scheduled between the committee and PCHA to talk about the issue. They are hopeful they can maintain public access to the shoreline and spark new initiatives to keep visitors safe.

“Princeville is a microcosm for what’s happening to beach access all across the state,” Miles said. “We want to find solutions that can keep public access open.”

•••

Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

16 Comments
  1. Arbitrary April 21, 2019 4:06 am Reply

    Control, control, tax and regulate….more people die snorkeling on South shore than queens bath, let’s limit beach access


  2. Rev Dr. Malama April 21, 2019 9:21 am Reply

    In the spirit of Forest Gump…. I must say ” Stupid is as Stupid does”! And the equally appropriate response “definition of insanity is doing the same thing and EXPECTING different RESULTS ” applies here, esspecially when the County of Kauai is ill prepared, trained nor caring that many more people are going to die or have serious trauma at this and other locations…
    Government is only as good as it’s individuals….
    HAWAIIANKINGDOM.ORG


  3. Makani B. Howard April 21, 2019 10:15 am Reply

    Princeville has created its own nightmare. They want the money, but they don’t want the people? hmmmmm. The best way to solve this is to take down the fence, leave the signs there, and let people go down there. If they get hurt or die, it’s their own fault for not paying attention. As the article says, education is important, but you can’t force people to listen.


    1. Da Shadow April 21, 2019 2:52 pm Reply

      YES! well-said.
      What happened to accountability and responsibility for one’s own actions??
      People need to take responsibility for whatever they do, however stupid it may be.
      Why aren’t more of us taking issue with this? Too often, so many of our freedoms are reduced due to the actions of one or a few idiots.


    2. jb April 21, 2019 3:46 pm Reply

      agree.


  4. numilalocal April 21, 2019 10:24 am Reply

    So how’s about place razor wire all along the cliff and then plant over with bougainvillea?


  5. Gail Mason April 22, 2019 1:55 am Reply

    We have the same trouble here trying to protect people from themselves. It would appear you can’t protect the stupid, they will ALWAYS insist that THEY know best. I think, as a tourist, your most effective signs are the ones that number the deaths that have occurred at that site. We put up signs with a skill and cross bones and let people know…you can go here, but there is a GOOD chance it’ll be the last thing you will do on this earth. It’s pretty effective.


  6. Flyby April 22, 2019 4:50 am Reply

    I visited queens bath this past January and walked around the fence….
    Its the hone owners who are mad that their million dollar hones are seeing heavy foot yraffic to a National free Hawziin site..the home owners are using fear of death and dwowning to close and disuse the area…
    Let pple be and make their own d3ciodions and choices..ztop trying to police eveyine and everuthing…if 0ple want to go there..you have to let them..if the homeowners aretired of foot traffic and tourists…move


  7. Felicia April 22, 2019 4:53 am Reply

    I visted queena bath 8n January walkwd around the fence..rhe home owners are pissed that their million dollar homes have alot of ft. Ootvyraffic and cars..they are not soo concerned about pplevthan they are thy heir privare space..rhey are using fear and death as tactics to clise/limit use…they are the ones who should move


    1. diane tilley April 28, 2019 2:50 am Reply

      I cannot believe the stupidity of people who are ignoring all the signs about not trespassing at Queen;s Bath. They are ignoring the true facts that it can be a very dangerous place — they could die! Putting the ban on people who own property in the area is so dumb! Telling the owners that they are the ones that should move is ridiculous!


    2. Ispeak4theLocals June 3, 2019 3:45 pm Reply

      Agreed! So, you want to keep it locked up for over 6 months and only allow the ultra rich community to fully enjoy it? Greedy and selfish people. If you spent $1,000+ to build the fence, why don’t you use it to maintain the trail and provide pamphlets with warnings? You can also put a donation box and I would have been more than happy to contribute for future generations. Bunch of Mark Zuckerburg wannabes. You should be thankful that the Hawaiian natives allow selfish people to live on their island, but I bet they are not happy when they are kept out of their own gems. True Kauians would like QB to be enjoyed by all. Thanks for the photos and videos. I’ll blog to my 1 million followers to throw trash at the comittees’ yards.


  8. Kauaidoug April 22, 2019 7:56 am Reply

    Once upon time not too long ago the only way to find Queen’s bath was if a local told you. Now there are countless internet travel blogs that tell. The ones I have seen never mention you’re jumping a fence WITH warning signs. I have sent emails pointing out this glaring omission to a few of these bloggers. Until something is done about this the problem will only get worse. I see this jumping happening at Wailua Falls daily and try to warn people.


  9. Kevin April 22, 2019 11:16 am Reply

    The police station is right down the road. If they cared they would be there. This is the wealthy simply screaming not in my oversized homes in the middle of a golf course in paradise back yard.


    1. Mia December 3, 2019 2:53 pm Reply

      I’m not wealthy at all, and I also don’t live in Princeville. But, the dangers at Queen’s Bath are very real. People get swept out and drown every year. This isn’t about money or privilege. It’s about RESPECT. That place is sacred and meant for the Hawaiian Alii. Not every Joe Schmoe who thinks they have absolute rights to trespass in someone else’s backyard. More importantly, those of us who live here and are a part of our small island community don’t want our relatives, friends, and loved ones, constantly risking their lives to save people who lack the respect and common sense to just go to another, safer, beach. Queen’s Bath isn’t for the wealthy. It isn’t for anyone. Respect that.


  10. Gloria Palmer April 23, 2019 3:25 am Reply

    People always want to believe the law doesn’t apply to them. Maybe some trespassing arrests with big fines would be an incentive. Even stupid understands it when it affects their pocketbooks.


  11. gf April 25, 2019 7:48 pm Reply

    plenty of nakuhes..gf


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