How often do you go to the beach? The calm majestic waves on the beautiful grains of sand while you enjoy the sun’s great warmth? Then, while you’re feeling great, you suddenly need to go to the bathroom. You’re running to the nearest one and when you get inside you’re faced with the grim sight of a dirty bathroom with a toilet seat you don’t trust. Maui public park bathrooms have a reputation for this and it hasn’t changed much since our last island restroom guide in 2013.
Though the county has steadily increased the budget for the Department of Parks and Recreation since 2013 (the department’s operating budget for 2016 is $15 million), most of the bathrooms throughout Maui’s parks still don’t have paper towels.
I examined 24 restrooms, 23 public and one at a local shopping center. All the bathrooms seemed to suffer from the same problem: they either had trash cans but no paper towels or they had paper towels and no trash cans. Same thing with soap. Of course, many restrooms I visited had none of that.
Is it so difficult for the county to provide soap, toilet paper, paper towels and a trash can in all public park restrooms? Apparently, as you’ll see in nauseating detail, it still is.
The bathrooms here are very large with a bench, in case you’d like to have a chat with a friend who is using the toilet. There’s also a large changing area. The toilets automatically flush and there is toilet paper. So far, so good, except that you can’t leave the bathroom with clean hands because there was no soap when I visited. And the paper towel dispenser was broken and lacked paper towels. It just hung there on the wall, a sad relic from a bygone era.
The wooden stall walls were chipped and worn down. The floor was so wet that there was a sign warning people that it was slippery inside. The ladies’ and mens’ rooms shared a bad odor that made me think twice about going in. Toilet paper and soap were present and accounted, but paper towels were as rare as unicorns under a rainbow.
Nobody ever said improvement was impossible. In 2013, Kam 1’s restrooms lacked stall doors. After now, Kam 1 now has basic plywood stall doors (though with rusted locks). One toilet was filled with clumps of toilet paper. There was a trash for you to throw away your paper towels after washing, but there were no paper towels.
A long time ago, if you were at Kam 2 and you were taking a number 2 there was no way to stop someone from walking in on you. There were no stalls and/or doors. These days, there is a stall and a door, as well as toilet paper and soap. But someone forgot to put in paper towels and a trash can.
Kamaole III has always been the best of the three Kam bathrooms. It always offers privacy with stall doors, has soap and usually has clean toilet seats. That said, there were no paper towels. So it kind of made sense that there wasn’t a trash can either. Thus it was no surprise to find the floor wet and trash on the floor.
It may be one of the most used bathrooms on the island, but it’s not the cleanest. The Kalama Park bathroom is fairly nice in terms of having toilet paper and a trash can. But the trashcan seemed unnecessary since there were no paper towels. Though it did seem to be a good backup receptacle in case the toilet clogged.
“Forget Me Not” Park (Wind Surf Park)
Located on the far right side of the grassy park, this restroom is distinctly average among Kihei beach bathrooms. I found stalls, toilet paper, soap, a dirty tile floor, a solid layer of dirt on the walls and no paper towels. On the plus side, the toilet seats looked clean and the locks on the stall doors were rusted but functional.
The tragedy of the commons is most apparent here, the cleanest of all the restrooms I inspected. Located in the shops at Ma‘alaea (and as such not part of the county’s Parks department), it smelled like bleach and chlorine. It’s green tiles were shiny, there was TP, soap, paper towels and even glorious toilet seat covers. In fact, this was the only restroom I visited that had toilet seat covers and a floor mat by the sink. I’ve included it here to show the dramatic contrast between public and private restrooms on Maui.
The great question when walking into the restroom at Launiupoko is whether to go ahead and use it or try to hold it for however long it takes you to get home. My advice: try hold it. The facilities are fairly worn down and the only bathroom supplies were the sinks and TP. On top of that the floor was filthy, the toilet seats looked very dirty and there was no soap. Earth to the Parks Department: you cannot wash your hands without soap. Oh, and the trash on the floor was made of wet and used toilet paper, apparently discarded on the floor because there was no trash can.
The harbor is in constant use during the day. However, the bathroom was not bustling with activity: it was soothing and serene. It had soap, hand dryers (!), mostly clean floors and even clean toilets. With all the cruise ships tenders and tour boats that go in and out of the harbor, it was clear that extra effort was made to keep this one clean.
This restroom had a large graffiti-covered wall on the side of the building. It’s a shame the artists didn’t head inside and do the interior decorating as well. The urinals are low flow as is the toilet. The floor has a layer of grime. Soap is a wondrous luxury that is apparently unavailable at the Mala Wharf. To be fair, the toilet seats looked clean enough to sit on and there was a trash can that would have been great, had there been any paper towels.
Iao Valley State Park
This should really be better. Iao Valley is pristine and beautiful in every aspect and there isn’t even soap in the bathroom. The restroom is clearly cleaned every day but there wasn’t a trash can, paper towels or water in the sinks. The bathroom near the parking lot has been closed recently for sewage maintenance and repair and hopefully that includes restoring water to the sinks.
After visiting so many restrooms that lacked paper towels, I was greeted by a totally new creation: a paper towel dispenser. Unfortunately, there were no paper towels, nor was there soap. This bathroom is in disrepair, which is sad since it sits next to a neighborhood with lots of kids.
Do you like your restrooms to come with really dirty floors and suspiciously brown clumps of toilet paper beside the toilets? Then I found your dream restroom. Though this bathroom helpfully includes paper towels, there’s no trash can.
The largest county park on the island, Keopuolani Park is a graceful field of grass next to a majestic forest. There are three restrooms, which this writer considers three chances for the park to prove itself a real public attraction. Each bathroom had soap, toilet paper and paper towel dispensers. And all three bathrooms lacked paper towels and trash cans.
The county has a public building on Market Street in Wailuku. This bathroom shares the issues with other public facilities across Maui. There’s no soap and the whole restroom is really dirty. There was a trash can in the front, which was rather lonely: a bathroom without paper towels leaves the trash can without a cause.
Ho‘okipa Beach Park
There’s only one restroom at Ho‘okipa Beach Park and it has soap, a trashcan and even the rare and most mysterious paper towels. The stall doors open easily enough, though the lock to the door is a little difficult to work with.
Paia Youth and Cultural Center
The bathroom next to the Paia Youth and Cultural Center has soap and TP. Unfortunately the trash on the floor was disconcerting. The tiles are caked with a layer of sand and grime that was very disgusting, which is why I suggest wearing your slippers when you visit this bathroom (or any of the others I’ve written about, to be honest).
Baldwin Beach Park
Without charm or malice, the Baldwin Beach Park bathroom was the least cozy. Neither the mens’ nor the womens’ restrooms had soap or paper towels. Knowing that salt cleans everything is a great comfort, because the bathrooms didn’t seem dirty but leaving them after a dirty deed without soap at the ready is a terrifying idea, especially since that’s how everyone has to do it. At least there was TP. Oh, and that bit about dirty floors at the Paia Youth and Cultural Center? It goes double for Baldwin Beach Park. There’s a whole world of nastiness on the floor. Probably best to use closed-toe shoes for this one, or good industrial work boots if you have them.
Kanaha Beach Park
There are several bathrooms in Kanaha Beach Park and none of them have paper towels or soap. One of them possesses a foul odor reminiscent of a water treatment plant or sewer. The doors have been painted over several times and there’s lots of trash on the floor. But the restroom buildings themselves have a really cute design with the doors built into the corners of the building. This almost makes me regret the silent oath I uttered to never under any circumstances use this restroom.
4th Marine Division Memorial Park
Giggle Hill is the affectionate and unofficial title given to this park. The name inspires dreamy visions of happy children romping down glowing green hills. Yet the bathroom of Giggle Hill inspires only hollow, chilling fear. Not only does it lack paper towels and a trash can but there’s no soap. The young and old go to Giggle Hill and the thought of them being without soap puts a sour feeling in my heart.
This should be the top priority for the County of Maui Park Maintenance: there’s a leaking toilet at Hali‘imaile Park. While this park had the sweet benefits of a trash can, soap and an empty paper towel dispenser that we imagine will get refilled eventually, the floor was soaked because of the toilet.
Wahikuli Wayside Beach Park
The floor was wet and sandy. The doors were grimy. It’s a well travelled bathroom. There is toilet paper and soap but nothing else to make a trip to this particular bathroom a healthy or comfortable experience. In other words, it’s the perfect place to end my tour of Maui public restrooms.
Photos: Max Errickson
Cover design: Darris Hurst