Concerns rise with 'secret' water slide's popularity
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are many places in Hawaii that attract thrill-seekers off the beaten path. The latest to gain attention is a man-made water slide on the Big Island.
It's known as the White Road hike, for its starting point in Waimea. After a two-hour hike into upper Waipio Valley, the payoff comes in the form of a 30 foot-long irrigation flume that visitors use as a water slide.
Locals have known about it for years, but now it's gaining attention from tourism websites. One post is entitled, "This Secret Water Slide is the Coolest Thing You'll See Today."
"We need to discourage this as much as we can when people are saying things to appeal to a visitors that may want to do a reckless type of experience," said Mufi Hannemann of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. However, he admits that it's hard to stop the word from spreading, especially with social media and the internet.
Hikers used to flock -- illegally -- to Kipu Falls on Kauai. But so many were hurt and killed that the private landowner built a fence around the trailhead.
The state also recently removed Dead Man's Catwalk and a swing atop the Haiku Stairs, both illegal hikes on Oahu.
The White Road hike is also dangerous, and traverses along a steep Waipio Valley ridge. The hike also involves crawling along irrigation pipes.
It's also trespassing.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said people cross into Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property and state conservation land, along with private property.
The increased attention to the irrigation flume has already prompted a backlash.
"'One of the Big Island's best-kept secrets.' Well, at least it was," one person commented.
Another said, "Take this down. Tourists do not deserve to know about things like this."
"There's plenty other stuff to do that makes Hawaii a great place to visit than to take these risks and put yourself in harm's way," said Hannemann.
So far, there have been no reports of major injuries or deaths along the White Road hike. And the state would like to keep it that way.
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