Protesters briefly block Kuhio Highway

HANALEI — Protesters blocked Kuhio Highway at Waipa early Tuesday morning before police arrived and reopened the road.

Several tourists were reportedly turned away before 7 a.m. by a group that maintains the North Shore beyond Hanalei is still not ready for visitors.

Kauai police officers responded and the protesters willingly moved off to the side of the highway, where they continued to peacefully hold signs to encourage motorists to slow down and respect the area, according to a Kauai County spokesperson. No arrests were made.

One of the protesters, Ka‘iulani Mahuka, said she and other local residents, intent on stopping or at least slowing vehicle traffic into the reopened area, stood by the side of the road through most of the day.

The road that had been closed since April 2018 flooding reopened on Monday to little fanfare. It leads to Haena State Park, Limahuli Garden &Preserve, Kalalau Trail and Ke‘e Beach.

Mahuka was interviewed by TGI staff on Monday. A picture of her and two others with signs urging drivers to slow down was published on TGI’s front page Tuesday.

In an interview Tuesday evening, Mahuka talked about the effort, the motivation behind the protest and the reaction it inspired in some of the tourists who came to visit the North Shore.

“At first we were able to turn people away,” she said.

The protesters formed a human barrier across the road that stopped traffic until police arrived. Unable to do anything physically to deter visitors from entering the area, Mahuka and other protesters started talking to them instead.

At some point in the morning, Mahuka said a big van full of tourists on their way to a kayak expedition pulled up, “and something really amazing happened.’

The tour group passed by, seemingly unaffected by the protest. But a short while later, the van returned. The passengers got out and explained to the roadside demonstrators that they didn’t feel right about going to visit without the blessing of the community.

Mahuka said she and some other locals are intent on getting the road closed again because the area simply isn’t yet prepared to handle a massive influx of people.

“They are not ready,” she said. “There’s no parking. There are no public restrooms.”

On top of the lack of facilities, Mahuka said police can’t enforce the laws with that many people. She described visitors littering, leaving cars in residential areas despite parking restrictions and speeding past construction crews still working to finish bridge restoration projects.

“Yesterday, there were so many people speeding on that bridge by Colony Resort. It’s the tiniest bridge on the North Shore, and no signage on either side,” Mahuka said in a video she recorded with her phone from the side of the highway on Tuesday.

She said protesters planned to return. The tourists are impacting the area’s natural environment as well, she said.

“There were hundreds of tourists out there walking on the reef,” Mahuka said, outraged at what she called a lack of respect for the land. “This isn’t your Disneyland ride that you bought.”

  1. Major Lee Hung June 18, 2019 1:12 pm Reply

    Apparently the protesters didn’t have to be at work in the morning ?

  2. Doug June 18, 2019 1:19 pm Reply

    why no arrests? Didn’t they illegally block the road?

    1. Jb June 18, 2019 3:51 pm Reply

      Yes, they should have been arrested or at the least ticketed. Did you see the obese woman in the star advertiser pointing and putting her foot on a poor mans bumper? It may get ugly if the protesters are allowed to continue. They do not own public land. Shame on them.

  3. rk669 June 18, 2019 4:53 pm Reply

    Keeping Visitors from attractions on Kauai will result in local residents having only bananas,coconuts and mangoes for food! Wise Up,they are the ones who Sustain us residents! Don’t deter our only source of survival,we don’t have any industry to sustain Kauaians outside of Tourism!

    1. Dt June 19, 2019 2:17 pm Reply

      It always amazes me when island people tell tourists to go away. Tourism is the only thing propping up this island. If tourism stopped, in three weeks this place would turn into Gotham city.

      Some people would say, that didn’t happen in the last hurricane. That was a different time, and they had fema here in 48 hours.

      People change when they get hungry. This place would go to hell in a hand basket and everything loveable on this island would go to crap.

      1. Ke Anu July 7, 2019 6:14 pm Reply

        These people survived over a year without the help of visitors, everyone with the mindset revolving their money around tourism is literally dumb. Do you realize how unsustainable it would be to revolve the economy around tourism!

  4. UncleAina June 18, 2019 5:01 pm Reply

    what is wrong with these people??
    do they think Haena is their own private land?
    this elitist behavior will further isolate these selfish people from the rest of Kauai.
    ironically, most of the protesters are Mainland transplants!
    They may very well regret these actions when (not if) the next disaster strikes.

  5. welcome to clown town June 18, 2019 6:51 pm Reply

    clown patrol gonna get cracked. play stupid games and win stupid prizes.

  6. Amused June 19, 2019 3:21 am Reply

    Kaiulani (Dennylynn is her real name) has no standing or authority to tell anybody what to do or to speak for the Hawaiians.

  7. Jorge Lopez June 19, 2019 4:21 am Reply

    I’m confused, the protester and this paper reports that “there is no parking” and yet I’m nearly 100% certain I just saw pictures on this site of people pulling into the newly completed parking lot that you have to make a paid reservation to use….the site for Ha’ena state park lists restrooms as being available… again, I’m confused.

    I have an idea Garden Island, try doing some actual investigation and reporting of the facts. You can go a long way to helping mitigate what could turn into a very ugly situation.

  8. Huskerguy June 19, 2019 5:03 am Reply

    The people pictured in the article are unfairly categorized as protestors. These people are merely requesting tourists to slow down…and I do not blame them. I see inconsiderate tourist drivers every time we visit Kauai..and if I lived there…I would want them to slow down too. Now..I have seen other pictures of protestors from the 17th…and they were actually b locking the highway…but not these people pictured here.

  9. mina June 19, 2019 5:50 am Reply

    How about “no locals,” too. That would definitely keep things quiet up there. Just imagine a night without drunken family fights, barking dogs, burning garbage, roaring diesel trucks, and pounding sub-woofers. Seriously, Kauai is so Ghetto after 6 pm.

    1. jake June 19, 2019 2:58 pm Reply

      Sad, but very true.

  10. CommonSenseish June 19, 2019 7:43 am Reply

    That lady that had her foot on the Jeeps Bumper, so shame! Sorry tourists, you just met the ghetto side of Kauai. This isn’t your land sweetie. If it was, you wouldn’t have that EBT card in your pocket or be able to afford such nice pajama pants. LOL

  11. Makani B. Howard June 19, 2019 9:14 am Reply

    Pretty funny seeing these hefty ladies sitting in their Costco chairs asking people to slow down. They are making it unsafe for drivers as you see that car has to swing wide and go into the other lane to pass them?

    Bet the car coming the other way didn’t appreciate those hungry women very much!!!

  12. mike June 19, 2019 11:15 am Reply

    So much transparent hypocrisy from this small group of locals, who as many have already pointed out, are mostly mainland transplants who knowingly moved to an area that has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. If I move near any of the world’s most beautiful beaches, should I expect to have it all to myself? There is plenty of “sacred land” where tourists don’t want to go – why don’t these locals move there, where they won’t be bothered by tourists? Of course, they can’t just admit they want to keep the area, and the primo beach parking spots, all to themselves, so they have to demonize the tourists by describing them in derogatory terms – “greedy”..”selfish”,,,”disrespectful”. I’ve visited the North Shore at least 25 times, and the only times I’ve ever been treated disrespectfully were by – of course – these very locals. These anti-tourist locals operate within their own feedback loop, whipping themselves up into an anti-tourist frenzy. Violence nearly always follows rhetoric, and we are but a short step or two before these locals start physically assaulting tourists or damaging their homes or autos. I’ve seen some of these locals harassing tourists already. Incredible how entitled this self-serving, small but very loud,group of locals are. Telling people to slow down? They don’t want people slowing down – they want any and all tourists to be prevented from even reaching the North Shore. The politicians and police who pander to this small group are invariably creating the violence that will soon escalate from blocking roads to physical and verbal assaults.

  13. HONKHONK SQUISH June 19, 2019 1:14 pm Reply


  14. alien June 19, 2019 2:52 pm Reply

    Entitlement is so ugly. You be acting like the people who stole your culture. Harassing people who have nothing to do with your mental illness. No one owns Kauai and obviously these people can not even take care of their own health much less the Aina! Gross

  15. manongindashadow0711 June 19, 2019 4:15 pm Reply

    Need a tow truck company out there. Since KPD can’t enforce the $200 fee. The County/State would scoop up!

  16. numilalocal June 19, 2019 8:42 pm Reply

    ALL tourists should go out there in a shuttle van.

  17. calm down June 20, 2019 7:26 pm Reply

    I understand where the locals are coming from, tourists speed by on that road all the time and the locals have children out playing. this is no different than your neighborhoods back home, you wouldn’t want cars speeding past your children would you? these rude comments to the locals are not helping either. no wonder they don’t love tourists.

  18. Becky Cross June 21, 2019 3:41 am Reply

    “At some point in the morning, Mahuka said a big van full of tourists on their way to a kayak expedition pulled up, “and something really amazing happened.’

    The tour group passed by, seemingly unaffected by the protest. But a short while later, the van returned. The passengers got out and explained to the roadside demonstrators that they didn’t feel right about going to visit without the blessing of the community.”

    What a passenger in the van says:

    When they drove up Tuesday morning for a kayaking trip from Kee to Kalalau two years in the planning, they came to a car “sort of blocking the road” on Kuhio Highway beyond Hanalei. She said it wasn’t just some people with signs asking her van of kayakers to slow down, but they were yelling, “tourists, go home,” and shaking fists at them.

    “They told us to get out of here,” Zakarian said.

    After the driver talked to the group, they continued on, but shortly afterward, the driver apparently changed his mind. He stopped, turned around and said the kayaking excursion was canceled

  19. KG June 21, 2019 4:51 am Reply

    Asking to slow down is fine! But telling tourists to turnaround and that they are not welcome is completely different! Even if someone just wanted to take a drive up to the NS (without reservation) , and not park or stay, they should not be stopped by locals! Locals DO NOT OWN THE BEACHES or the Roads!

  20. […] At some point that morning, a van full of tourists pulled up on its way to a kayak trip, Mahuka tells Kauai’s Garden Island newspaper, and “something really amazing […]

  21. […] At some point that morning, a van full of tourists pulled up on its way to a kayak trip, Mahuka tells Kauai’s Garden Island newspaper, and “something really amazing […]

  22. Hugh June 21, 2019 8:50 pm Reply

    Why don’t locals have to pay for park entrance. That is absurd to me!! I live in Utah where we have several state parks and are flooded with tourists all year long. Not to mention ski season!! Never, have locals been given free entrance to any of the state parks. We all live there and partake of the beauty and therefore should be subject to park fees that help to maintain the park and protect the environment.

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