Nahiku Counterattack

As they watched bumper to bumper traffic disturb their privacy, the locals were absolutely furious.  When they found out a damn travel book was responsible for their misery, they were even angrier!  They felt betrayed for having some writer make huge profits in return for revealing their hidden paradise to the world.

The locals watched in fury as their Garden of Eden was disrupted by a constant flow of tourists to their remote location. 

Those familiar with the eastern concept of Karma will note the parallels.  In a strange turnaround, some of the same people who had once pestered George Harrison to no end were now being endlessly pestered themselves. 

Now that the shoe was on the other foot, no one was laughing.  The locals were appalled at the never-ending invasion to their much-cherished privacy.  Nor do I think they saw the irony in their fate. 

The locals began fighting back by posting "no trespassing" signs and "dead end" signs right and left.  They did everything in their power to block access to the ocean.  Cars would drive two miles down the jungle road only to find barricades to ocean and be forced to turn around.

The outside world learned about Nahiku's anger in an unusual way.  Trip Advisor is a travel website that allows people to share information and opinions on the world around them.

Shortly after a Canadian woman returned home from her visit to Nahiku in February 2008, she put this comment on Trip Advisor:

"It is very clear that the people of the village do not want tourists by the car load coming through their village each day."

This comment struck a nerve.  Slowly but surely, a towering bonfire developed on Trip Advisor.  Over time, 114 opinions were expressed.  There would have been more, but the Trip Advisor editor got so sick of it all she ended the thread herself! 

The Trip Advisor Dialogue Regarding Nahiku

Rick's Note: The "thread" as it is called began in 2008 with this post from a Canadian woman who had recently visited Nahiku.   You can see this post yourself at Trip Advisor. 

If you do visit, you will also find 12 pages containing 114 posts in all.

Here is the original post.  After it, I have listed 18 of the reactions I found most interesting.

00. Trip Advisor:   Maui Revealed - Nahiku    (This is the original post)

Feb 19, 2008, 12:34 AM
Calgary, Canada

We just returned from 16 days on Maui. It was fabulous but I have a request of those who use and read the book Maui Revealed.

In 2005 I purchased the book and used it when we went to Maui in 2006. At that time we followed the road down to the coastline through the village of Nahiku. The views were spectacular and we loved it.

This time we again took the road down to the coastline. We were nearly at the bottom when we came across a dead end sign. There were two roads so we thought it was for the road to the right and we turned left as we had remembered from 2006. We then found another dead end sign and another sign saying to use the road at our own risk. We decided to turn around and not go there.

Shortly after turning around we came upon an elderly lady out walking her dog. She said to us "Please stay out, this is not a highway."

It is very clear that the people of the village do not want tourists by the car load coming through their village each day.

We felt very bad about going down the road and also felt very bad that such an elderly lady found it necessary to say this to us. I just hope everyone that reads this will remember what I have said and what the elderly lady said to us. Please don't disturb the peaceful calm of this tiny little village even though Maui Revealed encourages you to do so. Thanks.


Rick's Note:  After the Canadian woman's original post, a travel writer named JC Derrick stepped up to suggest this was a random incident.  Let's see what JC Derrick said.

1. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 19, 2008, 10:23 AM
JC Derrick
Lexington, South Carolina

(In response to the Canadian woman)  Are you sure it was Nahiku and not Wailua Town? 

I've never heard anyone who had problem with folks visiting Nahiku Landing. But I do know several folks rather like Wailua being 'off the map.'  Residents there typically do not like visitors; and more and more folks head down that way to see Waikani Falls (the larger falls just downstream of Upper Waikani - 3 Bears Falls).

Most all authors write about Nahiku Landing though, myself included. And I'm usually pretty conscientious about that sort of thing. Just curious if we are in fact talking about Nahiku.

4. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 19, 2008, 12:14 PM
JC Derrick
Lexington, South Carolina

Interesting.  Nahiku doesn't receive a lot of traffic and unlike the issues on Ula`ino Road, there aren't any private property issues with the Landing.
It's unfortunate you had that negative experience there.

6. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 19, 2008, 1:12 PM
JC Derrick
Lexington, South Carolina

To be sure, I checked again about the property at the end.

Nahiku IS State-owned land.

That's strange.  I know plenty of residents in Hana who always encourage folks to stop by the landing.

I have included a map of the major property landowners.

The blank areas are private land owners. 

Rick's Note:  In case you are curious, Alexander & Baldwin is a Honolulu-based company that was once part of the Big Five companies in territorial Hawaii. The company today operates businesses in real estate, sugar cane, and diversified agriculture. It is also the only "Big Five" company that still cultivates sugar cane. It remains one Hawaii's largest private landowners, owning over 87,000 acres throughout the state.

Rick Archer's Note: 

It took me a while to put two and two together, but JC Derrick is the same man who wrote the Guide of HawaiiNahiku Road & Landing, the article I listed earlier containing the flip-flop opinion about Nahiku.

Since JC Derrick played a major part in the Nahiku Travel Advisor dialogue, I now realize he was tracking the changing attitude in Nahiku right from the beginning.

The following dialogue will explain why JC Derrick changed his mind about Nahiku.


PART TWO: Staking out the Battle Lines

Rick's Note:  This next post came from a Maui local familiar with the situation.  This post broke the 'counter-attack' story to the world.

8. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 19, 2008, 1:34 PM
Kihei, Hawaii

Back in October Kaikane and his buddies went out to Nahiku to do some fishing. They never did fish there. They said the place was wall to wall rental cars, coming, going, parked, speeding up and down Nahiku Road.

They turned around and went elsewhere. He did not say anything about any signs then, but based on his report I can see why the neighbors would close off access. People who live in quite rural places like this live there because they enjoy a quiet rural lifestyle.

Having hundreds of visitors come through each day kind of contradicts this.

10. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 19, 2008, 4:00 PM
adkboards - Saratoga Springs, Florida

These are direct quotes from the Frommer's Maui guide:

"At one time Nahiku was a thriving village of thousands, today the population has dwindled to fewer than a hundred - including a few Hawaiian families, but mostly extremely wealthy mainland residents who jet in for a few weeks at a time to their luxurious vacation homes."

"Nahiku was forgotten until the 1980's, when multimillionaires "discovered" the remote and stunningly beautiful area."

So now even the tourists don't want tourists around, this is getting ridiculous.

There has to be some way that a middle ground can be achieved between the desire of tourists to take in the beauty of the island and the private property rights of residents.

I don't know if what this guide book says about the town's population is true, but if it is, I am sure these "multimillionaires" have driven down this road in the past, (how else would they have known about the beautiful location of their future home!), now that they live there though, the road should be off-limits.


11. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 19, 2008, 5:40 PM
kaiwahine - Kihei, Hawaii

The residents of Nahiku are mostly families who have lived here for generations. Other landowners who may visit a few times a year are not considered 'residents'. But even transplanted residents have the right to a quality of life.

If you buy land and move to a quiet rural village, off the beaten path, accessed by a single lane dead-end road, with no visitor attractions or accommodations, you would not expect the place to be suddenly overrun with tourists from nine to 5 each day, nor would you appreciate them parking in your driveway or on your lawn.

Sadly, the tourists are out-numbering residents all over the island and greatly impacting the way of life for many. If you do not understand why this is a bad thing, then perhaps you should find another place to vacation.  

We do not live exclusively to entertain visitors and our home is not Disneyland.

We welcome visitors to visitor destinations... but I don't want you in my backyard, literally!


18. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 20, 2008, 12:28 AM
2irv -
Fernandina Beach

Interesting issue. One that hits very close to home for me. For the past 40 yrs I have lived in a town very much a tourist town in the summer, though not nearly even on the scope of Hawaii. However, for what it's worth, I will throw in my 2 cents.

Public land is public land.

If this road is truly public or state owned then unfortunately this is the price you pay for living in paradise. Locals do not have the right to tell others not to go somewhere that is public.  

In turn, visitors should use common sense and courtesy when visiting a place.  Especially one as beautiful as Maui.

I hate every summer when traffic quadruples, long lines every where and you can't even move around without bumping into someone. But it is what it is. I love where I live and I will gladly pay the price to continue to live here and to deal with the ever increasing crowds. I know full well that the summer tourist season in IMPERATIVE for our local economy. Businesses need the business and people needing work need these businesses for jobs. I definitely feel a sad longing for the simpler, less crowded days of old. Damned if you do and Damned if you don't....

I will be visiting Maui in September and have had my eyes opened to the local issues regarding visitors and locals. I will be as courteous and respectful of the area and local people as possible. However, traveling and staying in Hawaii is not cheap. I will be sinking A LOT of money into the local economy. So expect me to enjoy the local roads, restaurants & businesses that I am entitled to as a paying tourist.

Rick's Note: Before we continue, let's take another look at what "Battlefield Nahiku" actually looks like.

Here are 3 pictures Marla took of Nahiku Road in 2013.  The road is very narrow and the forest is very thick.  Homes are few and far between. 
I never did quite figure out why that plastic was placed in the garden... which, incidentally... was the only interesting thing I saw on the drive.

PART THREE: Let's Blame it all on George

Rick's Note: The arrival of Amberloo into the discussion heated things up considerably.

19. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 20, 2008, 1:46 AM
amberloo - Honolulu, Hawaii

One elderly lady out walking her dog down a quiet country road... does not a meaningful sample make.

Whether Hawaiian, local, haole; if a pit bull or a poodle. Just one person, one dog, one opinion.

Island folks have gotten a rep of late for getting their backs up (and rightfully so) regarding private property, trespassing, parking, and traffic on private and substandard roads; but few will hassle anyone respecting the law on public thoroughfares and using public parking spaces.

After all, we depend on using those same roads to reach fishing, hunting, collecting or surfing grounds in neighborhoods other then our own, unfortunately alongside the flood of visitors. Just as other residents use the roads in our neighborhoods to enjoy the resources of the land.

Thank George Harrison, Oprah and their ilk as much as blame "Maui Revealed" for the present outcome in Nahiku, Hana, and the surrounding district.

21. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 20, 2008, 12:14 PM
addictedtomaui - seattle

I agree with ADK...I live in a very secluded dead end neighborhood. A few years ago a business park was built nearby. We now have people who walk through our neighborhood daily during their lunch hours, this means if I am out gardening which I frequently do I cannot have my dogs out with me as I used to. But I don't ask them to leave or give them the stink eye, I wave and say hello.

Our area used to be very wooded and very quiet, not anymore.  But it doesn't give me the right to ask anyone to leave even though, yes, we were here first, my husband and I both born and raised here.

22. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 20, 2008, 1:06 PM
amberloo - Honolulu, Hawaii


Never have seen a situation where one local resident is breaking into a car and suddenly it becomes a feeding frenzy of other locals breaking into cars all over the place. It's always just one or two jerks who are plying their trade being thieves.

However, I have seen countless situations where one tourist does something stupid (trespasses, uses a private road, parks on someone's property, places themselves in a dangerous situation, etc.) and suddenly there are scores of tourists following suit. "Hey, if they can do it so can we". So you end up with dozens of carloads of folks doing something sketchy if not downright wrong. Check-out the area around Holualoa Bay for a great example on Maui on a daily basis.

Just because there is a public road leading to a parcel of public park does NOT mean it is park or necessarily open to the public. And, even if it is a "park" does not mean there are places to legally park your car.

You are all so defensive, and of course none of you would EVER, EVER be anything but totally sensitive to the environment, I'm sure, but the point I previously stressed was not the "unfortunately" but the "FLOOD" of tourists.

At no time did I say anyone was doing anything wrong, but you are foolish if you don't think that going from ten outside cars entering your neighborhood each day to hundreds isn't stressful to a rural community; particularly when SOME are jerks who park illegally, litter, make unnecessary noise and act in a manner other than as a genteel guest.

It is because of this excess load of non-neighborhood people (locals and visitors alike) that destinations are being placed off limits and/or the welcome mat pulled back inside by the local residents.

Its "unfortunate" because now there are places I/we won't (and in some cases can't) go anymore out of respect for the residents of the area, and the shame from the impacts of un-restrained overuse.

24. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 20, 2008, 3:00 PM
rachellemb - Illinois City

Like others mentioned, Nahiku is going to be mentioned in any decent Maui guidebook not just Maui Revealed.

We went down the Nahiku road last Jan 2008 and I have to say I had a feeling of discomfort on the way down.

First of all the road is not marked in any way, so we past it the first time we went by and had to turn around. My gut feeling said there is a reason why the road is not marked and it was later confirmed by the signs along the public road that read "If you don't live here, you don't belong here."

Definitely not signs of welcome.

We went ahead anyway, got to the end stayed maybe 10 minutes, then left. I was uncomfortable the entire time, even though we had no problems at all. Nice area, but certainly not worth the hostility that we could have possibly encountered.

Unless I hear things have lightened up, I wouldn't go back again. There are hundreds of places equally if not more beautiful on Maui that I can enjoy without having to worry about stink eye.

It boils down to tourists need to be sensitive and respectful of people who actually live in beautiful places like Maui and of their property and to their right to quality of life. Hawaii residents need to remember that their economy depends on large numbers of tourists coming, so you should at least pretend to be happy to see us.

PART FOUR: Starting to Get Ugly

Rick's Note:  At this point, people began to lose their temper on this issue.  Amberloo from Honolulu defended the right of the locals to deny access to public land if they felt like it.  A man nicknamed ADK from Florida got into it with her.

25. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 20, 2008, 4:22 PM
adkboards - Saratoga Springs, Florida

"Just because there is a public road leading to a parcel of public park does NOT mean it is park or necessarily open to the public"  -  amberloo

So let me get this straight: Public Road + Public Area at end of Road = OFF LIMITS to tourists.

So despite the fact that my vacation dollars are in a VERY LARGE way financing said public areas, I cannot visit them. I am no longer allowed to even drive by them.

It brings me back to my previous question: How am I as a tourist to know which public roads are for locals only?

What is to keep people from putting up signs telling people they are trespassing when in fact they are not?

I am sure there are hundreds of people on these boards that have watched their neighborhood streets become more and more crowded with each passing year, it is not a trend that will reverse itself.

NO ONE should be harassed for driving down a public road.

The vast majority of people that take a scenic drive down this road do not speed, park in driveways or walk through someone's backyard.

26. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 20, 2008, 4:40 PM
amberloo - Honolulu, Hawaii

Man, get it right if you are going to whine...

I quickly corrected the quote you used and replaced "public park" with "publicly-owned land".

Just because a parcel of land at then end of a public road is owned by a public entity DOES NOT mean every member of the public, resident or tourist, has the right of access.  Public ownership does not make it a "park".

There are tens of thousands of acres of lands in the islands which are publicly-owned but NOT OPEN to public use, no matter what any person or book says. Most publicly-owned land is not open to general public use. Is that too difficult to grasp?

And, enough with the money arguments. Hawaii residents are not hos who should gladly prostitute themselves and their lifestyle for a few tourist dollars. Everyone wants them to just "roll over and pretend to enjoy it."

That statement, which is so commonly made by visitors, is incredibly offensive beyond belief to local residents. Further, it's not so true anymore as the economy has widely diversified over the years, and those who make comments like yours are exactly the type of tourists no one in the islands wants to host.

Hawaii does not need your money, please take it to a third-world destination where your unenlightened attitude is acceptable to the impoverished and you can bully your way anywhere you want to go. There are plenty of visitors out there of greater sensitivity who will take your place.

Not littering and parking in designated stalls does not make up for such an evil perspective.

Lastly, since you are obviously not aware of County financing and how it generates monies for roads, you MAYBE contributed a cent or two (at most) to that street.

27. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Feb 20, 2008, 5:10 PM
adkboards - Saratoga Springs, Florida

Since you have chosen to personally attack me, how about you try getting it right?

I was not talking about about visiting parks, or accessing lands that are off limits, be they public or not, I was talking about DRIVING DOWN A STREET!

A local resident does not "prostitute themselves" when a tourist can drive down their road without being threatened or harassed. It is not "rolling over and pretending to enjoy it" when a tourist can walk into a local store without getting stink-eye.

I live in a tourist area and deal with all the same problems that Hawaiian residents deal with.

However I also live in the real world, and despite your claims to the contrary, the money that tourists pump into a local economy IS a necessary evil. Compromises need to be made.

I take offense at your comments, you do not know me, or anything about me, I do not "bully" my way wherever I want to go.

If there is any "unenlightened attitude", it is yours towards a person you know nothing about, but have chosen to assume the worst of.


PART SIX: The Final Say

Rick's Note:  This last post was written by a person who actually lives in Nahiku.  Keep in mind this last post was written two full years after all the fuss started in 2008. 

108. Re: Maui Revealed - Nahiku

Oct 27, 2010, 11:45 PM
menehunewahine - Hana, Hawaii

I live on Lower Nahiku Road, for a short time in 2008 the bridge near the bottom was out, and a new sign was posted about driving at your own risk right at the bridge, below the church, then a sign right by the turn across from the church showed up saying only local residents, while it is true that the landing is state owned, the road is very very narrow and mostly a private road now, we found this out when we asked the county and the state to please fix da bridge...

Unfortunately the amount of tourist traffic on this poorly maintained very narrow roadway is causing noise and other problems, those of us who live here full time, are no longer able to enjoy the peaceful quiet place that we have loved since keiki times. We cannot fish because of the noise and the traffic, there is nothing at the landing no picnic tables no restrooms, most tourists just look a minute and then leave, but its hundreds of cars a day sometimes!

we don't let the kids play in the road no more too dangerous, too many tourists drive way too fast for this little narrow road even tho we have a sign 15 mile speed limit...We used to not mind but now there are just too many of you coming down and just making pollution and noise...our quiet enjoyment of our home has been no we would rather you did not come down our road anymore.

And blue pool is all on private property so stay away please.  Russell get mad!  He no like tresspassahs and the litter and the noise yikes!

Rick's Note:
 As I said, there were 114 posts.  This issue had clearly struck a major nerve. 

As a final piece to the puzzle, here is this 2009 article written by Sheila Beal that I found at Go Visit Hawaii

Notes from our Recent Maui Vacation
Sheila Beal

Well, it’s time to mention the elephant in the room. All in all, we had a nice time though we did have some hostile encounters which has made it difficult for me to even talk about it here with you.

One of my all time best memories from Hawaii is the first time driving the Road to Hana. Ironically, it is also now one of my all time worst vacation memories.

As we were returning back to Kaanapali from the road to Hana, we encountered some extremely hostile locals who decided that the sound of their horn and shooting out curse words to “haoles” was better than the sweet sounds of the rainforest and waterfalls. Just like them, we were stuck in a long string of traffic.

Once we were able to safely move off the road so they could pass us (which we always do for locals anyway), we ended up following them for about 25 miles into Paia.

The next day we observed some other unwelcoming local behavior. A guy drinking beer in the middle of the day at Hookipa Beach Park was trying his darnedest to get his middle finger captured in another tourist’s photo.

One thing that you can always trust from me at Go Visit Hawaii is that I will be honest with you.

After my shock and dismay, I felt that I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention to you that not everyone in Hawaii is glad you visit.

Every place has jerks and Hawaii is not immune. When we visit Hawaii, we go out of our way to be very respectful to the people, culture, and land.

Essentially, we walk on egg shells. Sometimes, just our pure existence seems to make locals mad and we have experienced a few other minor incidents during our many visits to Hawaii.

Hopefully, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter hostility, but what should you do if this happens to you?

Look for a way out and just try to ignore it.      Sheila Beal

Trouble in Paradise

Rick's Note:  As far as the argument goes about the privacy of the locals versus the desires of the tourists to see the natural wonders, I would prefer to make up my mind situation by situation. 

As far as the Nahiku situation goes, I side with the locals to some extent.  While I found myself angry at the locals for the way they treated George Harrison, upset with the strongarm tactics of locals and disappointed with the rudeness of amberloo, I actually do sympathize with their point. 

In the end, the argument that swayed me was the lady who said she can no longer allow her children to play outside.  We city people understand that problem full well and have grown used to the problem, but it has to be maddening to the Nahiku locals who grew up with privacy and have had it taken away. 

Who can blame a mother for wishing she could let her kids roam free again in a place that was once totally free of traffic? 

I have little doubt the American Indians felt the same way as the advent of westward expansion encroached upon their ancient homeland.

The truth of the matter is that while the view from Nahiku Landing is nice, there are roughly a thousand similar pretty views somewhere else on the island.  After all, how many different angles do you need to appreciate the Pacific Ocean?

Furthermore, the long drive down to the Landing is not practical at all.

That two mile stretch from Highway 360 (the Road to Hana) is no cup of tea. The only path down to the ocean is a steep, narrow, poorly-paved "country" road.  The condition of the road is not good enough to sustain heavy traffic.  And the traffic snarls caused by the heavy two-way traffic on what is essentially a wide "one-way road" has to drive people crazy.

After Marla and I had visited Nahiku Landing, on my way back up the road to re-connect with the Road to Hana, my one overriding thought was that this drive was a waste of time. 

Mind you, I kept that opinion to myself, but to tell the truth I wasn't impressed at all considering the hard work it took to get there.

The long drive down the bumpy, rutted Nahiku Drive took us 20 minutes for 2.5 miles and 40 minutes for the round trip.  Then add 20 minutes to look around and take pictures.  That adds up to ONE HOUR.

Furthermore it would have been even longer on a busier day.  Why bother?  You can get roughly the same sight at a highway viewing point one mile further down Highway 360 (the Road to Hana) and save an hour in the process.

I agree with Sheila Beal:

Hopefully, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter hostility, but what should you do if this happens to you?   Look for a way out and just try to ignore it.   

I took 209 pictures on our 2013 Road to Hana visit.  However, I had no way of knowing what picture corresponded to what spot except for "sequential" order.

I wasn't sure if I had taken a picture of Nahiku Landing or not, so I grabbed one from the Internet.  When I saw the 'wood post' in the picture above, it seemed familiar.

I took this picture.  That 'wood post' in the picture above helped me identify my own set of Nahiku pictures. 

So there you have it.  This is the view from Nahiku Landing.  Now you know what you are missing

I say leave the Nahiku people in peace; this spot is pretty, but you can see virtually the same thing from the highway above and save yourself a long trip in the process.


Next Story: The Tale of the Mad Hawaiian