Hawaii’s Haiku Stairs to Be Dismantled Due to Tourist Misconduct

A scenic stairway leading to a breathtaking Hawaiian locale is being dismantled as tourists continue to access the prohibited site.

The Haiku Stairs, an iconic landmark on Oahu commonly referred to as the “Stairway to Heaven,” are set to be removed starting in late April, according to a press release from the City and County of Honolulu.

“This was by no means a whimsical decision,” stated Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi in the release.

Constructed during World War II by the U.S. Navy, the stairs have been officially closed to the public since 1987. However, problems with the site have escalated in the era of social media.

Comprising 3,922 steps along a mountain trail spanning 853 meters in Kaneohe, on Oahu’s east coast, the Haiku Stairs have drawn YouTubers, TikTokers, thrill-seekers, and other tourists despite the perilous terrain.

“Due to rampant illegal trespassing, the Haiku Stairs represent a significant liability and expense for the city, and they impact the quality of life for nearby residents,” stated Esther Kiaʻāina, a member of the Honolulu City Council, to Hawaii News Now, a CNN affiliate.

The council unanimously voted to remove the stairs in 2021. The removal process is expected to last at least six months and will cost approximately $2.5 million, according to the mayor’s office.

“This decision was made out of respect for the people living within and around the stairway’s entrance, our respect for our ʻāina [land and sea], and our respect for both the past and future history of the Haʻikū community’s culture,” added Mayor Blangiardi.

A press release outlined multiple factors influencing the decision. The removal of the stairs prioritizes public safety, aims to stop illegal access to the stairs and the disturbances faced by neighboring residents who have endured decades of disruption, addresses the significant liability for the city, preserves the natural beauty and condition of the area, and improves the quality of life for local residents.