Haiku Stairs hikers arrested during last-chance trek to Hawaii’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’

The soap opera surrounding Oahu’s Haiku Stairs — also known as the Stairway to Heaven —  continues even as the famed landmark is being dismantled.

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On April 20 and 21, the last weekend before demolition was to begin, police say that they gave out 60 warnings to hikers, eight citations for second-degree trespass and 25 parking enforcement actions. Second-degree trespassing is a misdemeanor.

On April 23, five people were arrested and charged with first-degree trespassing, according to CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

The staircase was built during World War II by the US Navy for access to Naval Radio Station Haiku. Its 3,922 steps wind along a ridge to the summit of a 2,800-foot mountain in Kaneohe, affording incredible views.

It has remained a tourist attraction despite being officially closed to visitors since 1987, and its exposure on Instagram and TikTok has brought even more visitors.

As there are no official trails, thrill-seekers have cut through private property to get there.

This increase in tourism – and the bad behavior that came with it – was among the reasons cited when Honolulu’s city council voted to remove the stairs in 2021.

“Due to rampant illegal trespassing, Haiku Stairs is a significant liability and expense for the city, and impacts the quality of life for nearby residents,” councilmember Esther Kiaʻāina told Hawaii News Now.

Early this month, local authorities announced that demolition would begin on April 22, leading to the flood of hikers taking one last chance to visit the site in recent days.

“On top of (access) being illegal, it’s an active worksite,” Honolulu PD District Maj. Randall Platt told Hawaii News Now. “There’s heavy machinery. The helicopter is working back and forth so it’s dangerous for people to be up there in the first place. It’s a closed site. It’s a work environment.”

“The city was disappointed and dismayed to learn that so many individuals appear to have recklessly disregarded clear warnings that the project to dismantle the Haiku Stairs has begun, putting themselves – and, potentially, first responders – in harm’s way,” a Honolulu city government spokeswoman said in a statement.

The removal will require one 700-foot section at a time being taken away by helicopter, a process that will cost the city $2.5 million.

It has not yet been decided where the stairs will go after being removed. One local tourist attraction, Kualoa Ranch, has expressed interest in buying and housing them.

The-CNN-Wire & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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