Waipio Valley is on many visitors’ must-see list. That’s the problem.

Updated: Apr. 23, 2019 at 11:23 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wapio Valley’s breathtaking beauty, majestic Hiilawe Falls and its small herd of wild horses make for picture-perfect photos.

But traffic jams on the steep, single-lane road into the valley can pit residents against tourists.

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

On a typical day, tourist vehicles on the road ― which requires four-wheel drive ― outnumber residents 4-to-1.

“It’s getting out of hand. It’s crazy because there’s people driving that road that shouldn’t be driving that road,” said Dwayne Li’a Vicente, Waipio Valley resident.

[Read more: ‘You just cringe’: Influx of visitors tests safety, patience in Waipio Valley]

Darde Gamayo, Waipio Valley resident and taro farmer, agreed.

“Government needs to put a gate at the top. We joke about that. It’s not that easy."

That's because the road is public belonging to the county. Residents say trespassing on private property and trashing the beach is also a problem.

“They tend to act like they are in a bar here. It’s a concern for us not only safety, but how you see this place and treat this place,” said Doug Genovia, of the Waipio Taro Farmers Association.

Some have proposed a permitting system or a gate when the county road turns to private property.

“I am starting to prepare some legislation to take back to the community stakeholders to see about certain kinds of restrictions,” said County Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter.

The largest landowner ― Bishop Museum ― owns more than 500 acres (up to 60% of the valley floor) and recently announced it will not be selling its land after all.

“It is culturally a sacred place where land stewardship and care has been taken for generations,” said Melanie Ide, president and CEO of Bishop Museum.

"I would say the longest range plan would be to ensure its protection. Now how we do that is something that we are in the process of developing now," she added.

After years of uncertainty, residents are applauding Bishop Museum for keeping its property and want to move forward together in protecting Waipio Valley.

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