These Dazzling Photos in Hawaii Have Been Illegal to Capture for Decades

A narrow hiking trail with wooden steps along a steep, lush green mountain ridge, overlooking a panoramic view of a coastal city and ocean.

The Haiku Stairs on the Hawaiian island of Oahu are a stunning structure that makes for a captivating photograph subject. Many have taken advantage of the stairs’ beauty over the years. However, those photos have long been illegal to capture.

The Haiku Stairs, also known as the “Stairway to Heaven,” was built by the United States Navy during World War II. While it was open to the public in the past, it has been closed since 1987.

Aerial view from a mountainous hiking trail with a wooden staircase leading down towards a lush valley, overlooking a coastal town and bright blue sea in the distance.

But people would be forgiven for assuming the stairs were available for public use based on how often they appear on social media. Illegal visits to the Haiku Stairs have increased with social media visibility, CNN reports.

A quick search for “Haiku Stairs,” especially on platforms like Instagram, brings up plenty of results featuring people visiting the picturesque structure, some noting that climbing the stairs is illegal.

“Due to rampant illegal trespassing, Haiku Stairs is a significant liability and expense for the city, and impacts the quality of life for nearby residents,” Esther Kia’āina, a Honolulu City Council member, told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now.

A misty mountain path with a wooden railing leads up a lush, green hillside into a foggy, sunlit horizon.

The outlet further pointed out that lawmakers have deemed efforts to reopen the hiking trail “unfeasible.”

According to a release from Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, prep work to remove the stairs is underway.

“A ho’omaikai’i (blessing) ceremony was performed Wednesday morning by Kawaikapu Frank Hewett to bless the workers who will be undertaking this important project and mark the project’s official start, and The Nakoa Companies Inc. is already conducting preliminary assessments of the stair modules prior to their removal,” the release read.

A winding road cuts through lush, green mountain terrain, overlooking distant ocean views under a cloudy sky.

The removal is expected to take six months. During the process, the government once again stressed to the public that the area is closed.

“This was a decision, when we came into office, that was long overdue,” Blangiardi said in his release. “Over the course of many months, in meeting with the people involved and the discovery that we put into it, I can promise you that this was not a capricious decision.”

A wide-angle view from the top of a mountain staircase descending into a lush landscape with coastal views, urban areas, and overcast skies.

“This decision that was made was predicated upon our respect for the people who live in and around the entrance to the stairs, our respect for our ʻāina, and our respect for both the future and the past history of the culture of the Haʻikū community,” Blangiardi continued.

Image credits: Photos licensed via Depositphotos.