HONOLULU (KHON2) — Entrance gates to the parking areas at the Keawa‘ula sections of Ka‘ena Point State Park on O‘ahu reopen this weekend.
It’s been closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, there was frequent unauthorized camping, large parties, fires, driving on the beach and other bad behaviors due to lack of available enforcement.
The DLNR Division of State Parks has assigned one worker to the Mākua and Keawa‘ula sections, which creates a major challenge after large, unpermitted events during holiday weekends. Budget restrictions have also frozen a second vacant park caretaker position indefinitely. However, a committed community-run group continues to help with maintenance.
“We were gravely concerned based on these behaviors that people would not honor COVID-19 gathering restrictions,” Division of State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said. “Our law enforcement division (DOCARE) is spread thin. The park’s remote location made limiting patronage by keeping the gates closed, the most prudent action to combat the spread of coronavirus.”
According to Cottrell, budget restrictions coupled with revenue loss have required a “careful examination of costs.”
“Due to the park’s remote location, none of our staff was interested in overtime at the Keawa‘ula unit, and we were unwilling to return to the days of uncontrolled 24-hour access,” he said.
Keawa‘ula Access Gate Details
- Weekend gate access from 6 a.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. on Sundays beginning May 8th. Gates close at 7 p.m. both days. This is in effect until Sept. 30 when all security gate contracts come up for renewal.
- Weekends and holidays contracted lifeguards are on site and with no parks staff available on Sundays, lifeguards from the City and County of Honolulu Ocean Safety Division will open the gate when they arrive at their lifeguard tower at approximately 9 a.m.
- No overnight use is allowed. State Parks hopes and expects people will honor operating hours and leave on time. If not, vehicles will be locked in.
- Compliant day use behavior will allow for the gate to continue to be opened on weekends. Vandalism and illegal nighttime activity will prompt a re-evaluation.
- All current COVID-19 protocols must be followed.