Hawaii Will Remove Its Famous ‘Stairway to Heaven’ — Here’s Why

Hawaii’s famous Haiku Stairs, known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” will be removed due to illegal trespassing and injuries at the site that have led to hefty costs.

The stairs, built by the U.S. Navy in the 1940s, are now known to lead the best views in Hawaii, despite being closed to the public for over 30 years.

Its 3,922 steps wind up a mountain in Kaneohe, on the eastern side of Oahu. And although the stairs are not open to visitors, that hasn’t stopped people from wandering onto the trail, often hopping residential fences and wandering through backyards in order to gain access.

Hawaii Haiku Stairs
Hawaii Haiku Stairs

Majicphotos/Getty Images

In a recent meeting of the Honolulu City Council, the council unanimously voted to remove the stairs, due to soaring security costs.

“We recognize the interest the stairs have to certain community groups, however issues such as trespassing, personal injuries, invasive species and overall safety of the public cannot be ignored,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi shared with Hawaii’s KHON2. “Fundamentally, it is inappropriate to have a high-use tourist attraction entering through this residential neighborhood, which lacks in the capacity to provide appropriate facilities or parking. Consequently, my administration is aligned with the City Council’s resolution to remove the stairs and we intend to move forward with the necessary plans.”

Earlier this year, a 24-year-old had to be airlifted out of the area after injuring his knee while hiking the stairs, KHON2 reported.

There is currently a $1,000 fine for those caught trespassing at the stairs.

The mayor’s office must still formally approve the removal of the stairs and set a time frame to do so. It is expected that the office will set aside $1 million for the project.

But there is a chance that the stairs won’t disappear completely — they may just relocate. Last year, nearby Kuoloa Ranch (the filming location for movies like “Jurassic Park” and “Jumanji”) offered to take the stairs onto their property and build a ticketed attraction if they were ever removed from their original location, according to Hawaii News Now.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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