(Kahului, Maui) – Sunday afternoon and nighttime beach parties with drum circles, nudity, illegal alcohol and other illicit substances, coupled with hundreds of mask-less people in close contact with one another, has prompted the immediate closure of the Pu’u Ola’i beach, the smaller of two beaches located in Makena State Park on Maui.
Social media posts from last Sunday, show an estimated 400 people on the beach. Previous observations and monitoring by personnel from the DLNR Division of State Parks and officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) show continued disregard for State mask mandates and social distancing guidance.
State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said, “Out of an abundance of caution we are forced to take the extraordinary action of closing off Pu’u Ola’i due to the egregious behaviors of a segment of Maui residents and visitors.”
Earlier, in the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s believed a participant in one of the Sunday parties was responsible for spreading the virus to others.
“For everyone’s health and safety we cannot continue to tolerate the lack of personal responsibility hundreds of people are demonstrating every Sunday at Pu’u Ola’i” remarked DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. The parties have the possibility of becoming so-called super spreader events.
DOCARE officers have made repeated trips to Little Beach on Sundays and have issued citations for alcohol violations. “Unfortunately,” commented DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla, “we simply don’t have the manpower to effectively deal with crowds of several hundred people on a weekly basis.”
Closed signs and fencing are being installed at the beginning of the path that leads to Pu’u Ola’i Beach. Big Beach at Makena State Park will remain open and all visitors are reminded to follow all park rules, along with current county and/or State COVID-19 mandates.
Anyone caught at Pu’u Ola’i could be cited for entering a closed area. Chair Case concluded, “Participants in the Sunday gatherings shoulder full responsibility for this closure. It’s too bad their astounding lack of personal responsibility, penalizes everyone else who abides by the rules.”
DLNR will be monitoring the compliance of this temporary closure and examining other more permanent solutions to impeding and eliminating this reckless and illegal behavior on public land that is a valuable recreational and cultural landscape.