Ready for the reopening

Ryan Collins / The Garden Island

The new parking acommodations for Haena State Park sit empty, awaiting the opening of Kuhio Highway on Monday.

Ryan Collins / The Garden Island

A trail closed sign marks the start of the Kalalua Trail Friday at Haena State Park.

Ryan Collins / The Garden Island

People enjoy Ke‘e Beach Friday afternoon before the opening of Kuhio Highway that will give the general public access to the area for the first time in over 14 months.

Ryan Collins / The Garden Island

From left to right, Uncle Kona, Steven Wong, Kaina Haumea-Oliver Sr. and Kaina Haumea-Oliver Jr. unload nets of freshly caught akule at Haena Beach Park Friday afternoon.

HAENA — There is an eerie feeling that combs over the nearly-empty beaches and landscape of Haena and Wainiha that has been shut off from the outside world for the past 14 months.

The bridges leading to the area were scheduled to be closed for the weekend for final night work, leaving residents shut in before the reopening of the Kuhio Highway on Monday morning.

Josiah Perroad of Wainiha raked glass Friday on Ala Eke Road, preparing for the opening.

“There’s a lot of mixed feelings,” Perroad said. “It’s been a while coming. At first, the convoy stuff was really hectic and hairy. And the whole community kind of really got in a real grove it seemed like and was pretty happy about it.

“We knew the road was going to open and there are good things about it. Then there’s things like every day there is almost a fight at the bridge, honking and yelling at someone who ran, and it’s going to be back to that — not as peaceful and the tranquility that we had.”

Perroad said the Monday Kuhio Highway reopening date is just another that has been given.

“At first it was supposed to be March, so I don’t know about sticking to the date,” Perroad said. “I don’t know, we might have another flood, you know what I mean? Having Ke‘e, all of it, having it almost all to ourselves, we were super blessed to have been able to experience that, and the thought of the new park having entrance fees and stuff like that, it just seems like things not to look forward to, but it’s kind of inevitable.”

Some are more reluctant to talk, like the owner of the Wainiha General Store, who said she is considering cutting back her hours regardless of the financial opportunities the tourists will bring with the opening of the highway.

At Haena Beach Park, a group of fishermen unloaded their catch of spawning akule from their nets.

“You see this reef right here? There’s nobody on it right now,” Steven Wong said, pointing to the reef that has grown back in the bay since the closure. “There’s no slick. If you come back after the tourists come and you’ll watch the slick of sunscreen over this place.”

Wong said the fish are undisturbed now, but that is soon to change.

“You watch when these tourists come in and feeding time come. They going to have a hard time feeding,” Wong said. “The whole system is real balanced right now.”

The group of fisherman said there have already been problems this week with tourists, and that the key for the opening is to have respect for the locals.

At the end of Kuhio Highway at Ke‘e Beach, Toni Martin soaks in the sun on what she sees as the last day to truly enjoy the beach there before it gets overrun.

“It’s been beautiful, but difficult,” Martin said of the past year after the road closure. “It’s difficult getting in and out, specifically if you have medical appointments, because I did. That made it really difficult as far as in and out, but as far as here, it’s beautiful. It really is. It really makes you appreciate, especially knowing that it is not going to be this way. It almost brings tears to your eyes.”

Martin was preparing herself for the scheduled bridge work that locked the area in for the weekend.

“Tomorrow it’s going to be families down here,” Martin said. “I know all the local locals, because they’re off on the weekends and we’re closed in all weekend and they’ll all be down here for the last time also, so I figured today was my last quiet day down here.”

As the sun begins to meander closer to sunset, the last of the cars head south over Waikoko Bridge into Hanalei, leaving the locals who live on the North Shore their final solace before the highway reopens at 5 a.m. Monday.

Perroad thinks there was a previous feeling of hostility throughout Wainiha, but that it has simmered down of late.

“Some of it is maybe still around, and I am kind of speaking from my own experience and perception. But all the way down through Haena it seems like things are really good for everything that everybody went through, which some people didn’t get it as bad as others,” he said.

Perroad wanted to thank all the people who donated to the recovery efforts during the residents’ hardship.

“Thank you to everyone who cared about us,” he said.


Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or

  1. Joe Maka June 16, 2019 8:21 am Reply

    I’m ready for the reopening too. Haena residents should be thankful for the time they have had, and ready for the changes to come. It’s not cool to blame all problems on visitors. We are all visitors here. Fishermen kill a lot more fish than sunscreen (even though I agree the sunscreen is not good). Haena is for all to enjoy.

    The one thing about the Haena flood saga is an ongoing message that they had it worse than other spots on the island. This is not true. Very few homes were lost in Haena. Truth is the last 14 months in Haena must have been like living in a private preserve.

    The new shuttle plan is fundamentally flawed. It should be mandatory for non-residents to use the shuttle. No rental cars out there would make a huge difference.

    Monday will be interesting.

  2. RESPECTACLE June 16, 2019 4:09 pm Reply


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