HANALEI — Just as the sun was rising on the first day in June, a wedding planner allegedly held a private and pretty ceremony at Hanalei’s Black Pot Beach Park.
Guests filtered down Weke Road and parked their rental cars in the new county lot. They had the picturesque beach to themselves.
That’s because they were trespassing.
Though the ceremony is over and the cars all gone, photos of the affair linger on the Internet, sending out a bat signal to others planning ceremonies and triggering anger among some residents.
Authorities are following up, not only on the alleged trespassing — the party and guests entered through the closed Weke Road and onto the beach park to get to the sand — but also because the allegedly wedding wasn’t permitted or authorized.
Weke Road and Black Pot Beach Park have been closed since the April 2018 flood to allow for repairs and reconstruction of the area.
“Aside from multiple press releases, news articles and community meetings to publicly announce the ongoing closure of this area, large barricades and multiple signs are placed along the roadway to make it clear that access is prohibited,” said county spokeswoman Sarah Blane.
Those barriers were moved to allow for vehicles to pass through.
To be legal, beach weddings require a state permit secured by someone with insurance — usually the wedding planner or officiant. You can’t have more than 30 people at a beach ceremony, consume alcohol, or have chairs or an archway. Loudspeakers aren’t allowed.
Wedding parties also can’t trespass on public, county or private property.
“I believe this reported incident struck a chord with our community because everyone is eager to return to this special place on our island, so for those who have been patiently following the rules and regulations it was seen as a sign of disrespect,” Blane said.
It’s not the only place where people are trespassing to get that perfect picture.
Lyndsey Haraguchi-Nakayama, who operates the multi-generational Hanalei Taro Farm with her family, says she’s chasing trespassing tourists out of her taro fields daily.
She also has problems with people flying drones in the no-fly zone above their property.
“We’re still salvaging artifacts from the rice mill and replanting taro that got destroyed by the flood. I have two buildings collapsing,” Haraguchi said.
“We have to stop working in the fields and doing recovery on a daily basis, interrupted by trespassers.”
Recently, she says, a wedding party of about 20 people went by six “No Trespassing” signs to get into the middle of their taro fields for wedding photos. Some of those signs were posted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as the farm is home and nesting area to endangered birds.
“My dad, he went over there and said ‘you guys are trespassing,’ explained we were trying to recover from the floods. One of the guys came up behind my dad and elbowed him when he was walking away. That’s assault,” Haraguchi-Nakayama said. “One: they don’t have the right to be there, and two: I don’t want our children to be exposed to that.”
Wedding and photography professionals on Kauai who are following the rules are just as frustrated.
“Our community is sick of people moving here to make money off of our home with no regard to laws or place,” one person said on the social media post that showed the June 1 Black Pot Beach Park wedding.
It’s not contained to beach weddings, either, or just pictures. Professional photos are floating around online with subjects at off-limits places like the bottom of Wailua Falls or commercial shots used for promotion that were taken in state parks, which require permits for commercial photos.
The Hawaii Film Office requires permits for flying drones or taking professional photos at state beaches and parks, trails, in forest reserves, small boat harbors and waters.
Film and photos for personal use, or which takes place on private property, doesn’t require a state film permit.
Drones and commercial shoots in Waimea Canyon require those permits.
There are legal ways to get amazing photographs, have that epic wedding or explore Kauai’s wild places, and showing that respect is what Kauai is requesting of those who live on and visit the island.
“There is a way for people to come and visit respectfully,” Haraguchi-Nakayama said. “Please be respectful of families in our community.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.