For those of us who have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of a favorite East Hawai‘i recreational area, our wait is over, at least temporarily. Sadly, Kolekole Beach Park isn’t looking as great as one might expect after four years of closure.
Of course, the natural beauty of this place, where Kolekole Stream (that often ends up looking more like a small river) meets the Pacific Ocean still holds a lot of magic. Those first enchanting moments when you turn off of Highway 19 and meander down into the gorge, surrounded by lush foliage draped in lazy jungle vines are still very much there. The beauty of this place is just as spectacular as it’s always been (as seen in these recent photos from Prolific Hawai‘i). The great lawn is still a wonderful place to enjoy lawn games, fly kites, and enjoy a round of tag with the keiki. The wonder of watching cars and large trucks passing overhead is still there. The water is just as cold and refreshing to take a dip in, and the small waterfall is as beautiful as any you’d find along the Hana Highway.
Kolekole reopened on May 20, 2020 when all county beach parks reopened due to their COVID-19 closures. The park had been closed since 2017 for lead abatement to clean contamination in the soil. According to Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Deputy Director James Komata, the park will likely close down again in October to make changes to make the park compliant with the American with Disabilities Act, during which time they will probably continue lead abatement activities. Let’s hope that they also use this time to make the facilities at this spot that is popular amongst locals as nice as they can be.
But the manmade portions of the park have certainly lost their lustre. The bathrooms and main pavilion are closed off, with only the two smaller pavilions available, along with a couple of port-o-potties. The open lawn is peppered with fencing that prohibits access to certain areas, signs are attached that warn of high lead contamination in the ground.
Kolekole Beach Park is located just north of the intersection of Mamalahoa Highway (Hwy 19) and Old Mamalahoa Highway. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.