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Haiku Stairs: Hawaii attraction to be removed following bad tourist behavior

The Haiku Stairs on the eastern side of Oahu island. Majicphotos/iStockphoto/Getty Images

A picturesque staircase leading to a Hawaiian beauty spot is being torn down as tourists continued to access the off-limits site.

The Haiku Stairs, an Oahu landmark often called the Stairway to Heaven, will be removed from the end of April, according to a press release from the Honolulu city government.

“I can promise you that this was not a capricious decision,” Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in a statement.

Issues with the stairs – which were built during World War II by the US Navy and have been officially closed to the public since 1987 – have multiplied in the age of social media.

The Haiku Stairs are comprised of 3,922 steps twisting through a 2,800 foot mountain trail in Kaneohe in eastern Oahu.

Despite the dangerous terrain, YouTubers, TikTokers, thrill-seekers and other tourists continued to access the stairs.

“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,” Honolulu City Council member Esther Kiaʻāina told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

The council voted unanimously to remove the stairs in 2021. Work will take at least six months and cost $2.5 million, according to the mayor’s office.

“This decision that was made was predicated upon our respect for the people who live in and around the entrance to the stairs, our respect for our ʻāina [land and sea], and our respect for both the future and the past history of the culture of the Haʻikū community,” added Mayor Blangiardi.

According to a release, a range of factors influenced the decision. The stair removal “prioritizes public safety, seeks to stop illegal trespassing on the stairs and nearby neighbors who have dealt with decades of disruptions and disturbances, addresses significant liability for the city, preserves the natural beauty and condition of the area and improves the quality of life for neighborhood residents in the area.”

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