Kanaha Beach Park is a wondrous place for those who live for ocean activities. Famous for the winds that attract kite surfers, Kanaha is also great for paddling and swimming. That being said, the park also attracts more than a few homeless people. In fact, you don’t have to scroll too far down the beach’s Yelp page before you find people–and not just mainlanders–calling out the beach’s rough reputation.
“Whoa! You probably don’t want to go here. Even during the day,” wrote Matt L from Chicago. Faye M of Honolulu, who gave the beach a four star rating, couldn’t help offering a warning to visitors. “There were some vagrants, but they just stick to themselves – so they’re mostly harmless,” she wrote. “Just don’t let your guard down!”
On Aug. 18, county officials announced that it’ll make some changes at Kanaha–for locals and visitors, sure, but also for nearby businesses. First, starting in September, the county is placing all overnight camping permits at Kanaha on indefinite hold (the county will refund any permits that have already been issued for the period after Aug. 31, 2016).
“This is a joint effort by the county and the state to clean-up our park and make the area more secure, not just for park users but for the businesses nearby, including the rental car agencies and Kahului Airport,” said Parks & Recreation Director Kaala Buenconsejo in an Aug. 18 county news release. “This is a well used park and the bottom line is it needs to be clean and safe for everyone.”
The news release makes even one-star Yelp reviews look positive by comparison. “Department officials said the clean-up is necessary in order to address the numerous complaints from park users,” states the news release. “The issues range from large items such as appliances and vehicles being dumped in the area, weekly police reports involving drunken and disorderly conduct, drug offenses, assaults and other incidents as well as the camping ground area in particular being unsafe and unsanitary for overnight use.”
Of course, the county’s indefinite ending of camping at Kanaha is just one small aspect to their future plans for the beach park. In fact, the county has big plans for the area, and will hold an open house on the future of Kanaha Beach Park this Thursday, Aug. 25 at the Waikapu Community Center.
“Kanaha Park is well utilized by families, fishermen, divers, water sports enthusiasts and many others,” Buenconsejo said in a separate, far more positive Aug. 18 news release. “The open house will provide an opportunity for all park users and area residents to learn about the planning process and meet the staff and consultants who are working on the project. During the open house you will be able to share your recommendations to the conceptual draft design”
The Waikapu Community Center is located at 22 E. Waiko Rd. The open house starts at 5pm and should run until 8pm. For more information, call the Department of Parks & Recreation Planning and Development Division at 808-270-7931.
2006 Photo of Kanaha Beach Park: Forest & Kim Starr