Beautiful fence;with one letter

CHECK IT OUT: Worried reader: Wave off public

POSTED: February 20, 2006

People are mesmerized while watching winter waves crash onto the shore at Hookipa Beach Park. Wave watchers should obey signs and exercise care when approaching dangerous shore break, the photographer cautioned.
An East Maui woman is worried about the safety of wave watchers during winter’s high-surf season at the north shore sites of Hookipa and Pauwela and elsewhere on the Valley Isle.

She forwarded a "dramatic photo" of crashing shore break dwarfing onlookers at Hookipa.

It’s an "unsafe place to stand and enjoy waves," said Kim Usher of Haiku. Also, she said, "The nature of the ground . . . is hard mud that gets very slippery when wet."

She urged The Maui News "to write an article on safety and signage at all areas where people go to look at big waves," and the appropriate parties to partially fence off the Hookipa area, to restrict access to the wave-battered coastline.

"My suggestion is to fence all the way to the adjoining pasture to discourage crossing into the area and a sign that also says, ’Slippery when wet,’ "she said.

People should remain alert and obey signs, but there is no reason to restrict access to the shoreline, according to wilderness advocates, a water safety officer and the owner of lands adjacent to Hookipa.

A spokesman for the county Ocean Safety section said that under high-surf conditions, lifeguards post warning signage on the beach.

A Sierra Club official said club policy supports unfettered shoreline access.

"Lateral access to the ocean is a public right, and it’s mandated by our state constitution that we have access to the ocean for hunting, gathering and for traditional, cultural activities," said Lance Holter, Maui group chairman and Hawaii state conservation chairman for the Sierra Club. "To block the public’s access to these resources, it’s contrary to everything that’s Hawaiian."

Holter said signs can advise but ultimately cannot replace common sense.

"The Sierra Club feels signage is effective if people obey and read the signs, but there has to be some nexus to people taking personal responsibility and the public’s right to harvest resources. "You can’t put a sign up and tell everybody to stop doing everything, because it’s just ridiculous, really," he added.

An Alexander & Baldwin Inc. spokeswoman confirmed that the corporation owns the property extending north of Hookipa Beach Park to the next point of land.

"It’s hard to tell from that photo precisely where the people are vis-a-vis the line between county property and A&B property," said Linda Howe, community relations manager for A&B. "As landowner, we have not resricted access across that ’invisible’ line, nor do we believe the public would want us to," she said.
Besides, "a fence is un-Hawaiian, it is hostile," said Holter, who offered three commandments for safety in the wilderness: common sense, common sense, and more common sense. "You’ve got to have some kind of critical thinking," he said. Holter advised people to "always tell someone where you’re going, and always tell them when you’re coming back. If you’re unfamiliar with an area, get a map; ask people in the area what they know about it. If you see signage, pay attention to the signage, and be alert and be aware and be careful." "If it’s a rainy day and it’s a muddy trail, at a certain point people are on their own. Ultimately, you could put up a sign hoping to help out, but they won’t read it. . . . I know, because they’re people," he said.
Although Holter called ocean access an "inalienable right," another ocean user cautioned those heading to sea and shore to check National Weather Service forecasts on ocean conditions; study the water for a while before going in; and don’t turn your back on the water.

For weather forecasts and ocean conditions, call 877-5111 or 877-3477 (marine information) on Maui; 552-2477 on Molokai; 565-6033 on Lanai; or see the Web site


  1. Of course there is a fence now. One of those iron pipe types with three bars. people can still cross. The thousands of tourist every month who jump out of their cars and run to the fence to look, have no idea how many people have slipped, fallen and hurt themselves on the cliff it abutts.

  2. And they put up a sign. Posted on home page...! I was dissapointed that they didn't do the same thing at Pauwela Lighthouse. A beautiful person lost their life there in February 2010.