Maui News

Hāna groups issue advisory against visiting Waiʻoka and Kaihalulu in East Maui

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Kaihalulu Beach aka “Red Sand Beach” in Hāna. Maui Now file photo

The group Hoʻomakaukau Maui Hikina – “East Maui Ready” Leadership (EMR) is issuing a standing advisory requesting that both Waiʻoka and Kaihalulu areas of East Maui be avoided when looking for recreational spots to visit.

“As with the many non-sanctioned trails of both Maui Hikina (East Maui) and statewide, these areas are hit with high levels of emergency response calls. Please consider the impacts. We ask that hikers and site seekers visit only areas that are open to the public or managed by state and federal parks,” the organization said in a press release issued today.

The reminder comes as the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) and Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau (MVCB) announced a partnership with three community-based organizations to manage and implement the East Maui Tourism Management Pilot Program.


“East Maui is making strides in our diverse ahupuaʻa to change the narrative based on obvious impacts and with respect to our first responders, by listening to the ʻāina and with consideration to our knowledgeable resident voices. Only outdated misinformation will recommend going to these places – please do your part and share this advisory,” according to the news release.

Kaihalulu: Landslides with recent rains and earthquakes in the last couple of weeks of February 2024 have caused the trail to this puʻu (volcanic cone) to be extremely dangerous, according the organization. “The trail, coated with ironwood seeds, is slippery with sharp volcanic cinders; the shoreline is unstable and crosses private lands. Local emergency responders are regularly called to the area due to accidents and injuries. The area has no dedicated parking,” according to EMR.

Waiʻoka: A report from the Blue Water Task Force, a division of the Surfrider Foundation, shows test results with samples collected at Waiʻoka from Jan. 31, 2024 dating back to Spring 2023, as having higher than recommended safe levels of enterococcus bacteria based on Hawaiʻi State Department standards ( “The water at Waiʻoka has a natural rock boundary from the ocean that has been standing most recently since April 2021. This area is prone to flash flooding, which historically has resulted in injury and death from those unaware of the danger. The area has no dedicated parking,” according to EMR.


The organization reminds visitors that East Maui has only one ambulance, and a limited police and fire department, dedicated to the 40-mile coastline of the Hāna District, stretching from Koʻolau to Kaupō.

“When our emergency responders have to deal with those who venture into areas which are not maintained for either community or visitor engagement, based on outdated misinformation, we put our residents at a grave risk. Because of this danger and for cultural respect to these lands, we are strongly advising, as an active constituency of emergency preparedness leaders, that the areas of Waiʻoka and Kaihalulu be removed from local and visitor itineraries,” organization leaders said in the news release.

As part of a County of Maui grant, Ke Aō Haliʻi (KAH) (, a local East Maui nonprofit organization, is collaborating with the MVCB division of the HTA with the Mālama Maui Hikina project.


Beginning in the first half of 2024, teams led by KAH monitor the Kaihalulu and Waiʻoka sites, to engage in visitor surveys and education. KAH, owner and steward of the adjacent lands, is working with the community to build long-term management plans for these culturally significant sites.

“For decades our dedicated leadership in East Maui has worked to mitigate disaster occurrences; involved community members currently meet as Hoʻomakaukau Maui Hikina – ‘East Maui Ready (EMR)’ on the last Wednesday of each month at 5 p.m. EMR works on building and sustaining a network of emergency preparedness throughout East Maui to assist in times of need. We maintain rescue tubes at both Kaihalulu and Waiʻoka as well as several other locations, and are continually working on ways to educate the public, stem misinformation, and inform, when there are emergency conditions,” according to EMR.

The public is invited to view the calendar listing on Hāna Maui for more information or to join in the EMR discussion, visit

Other recent news references regarding hiking precautions and past rescues from Kaihalulu and Waiʻoka include the following:

Feb. 27, 2024 – Hiker who fell 1,000 feet while on vacation in Hawaiʻi, records cautionary PSA
Feb. 29, 2024 – 3 visitors rescued after falling from steep Kauai hiking trail
March 8, 2021 – Woman who lost husband, friend in flash flood says visitor education needed
Feb. 20, 2019 – Five Rescued in Two Days at Kaihalulu in Hāna, Maui


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