One of the most beautiful beaches in the world has been without a public shower for the past month and may continue to be without one for a while.
Hamoa Beach, used by the public as well as guests of the Travaasa Hana hotel, has had some trouble with the maintenance and the water bill for its public showers.
"A couple of months ago, the main shower line that runs to the showers broke," said Danny Mynar, general manager at Travaasa Hana. "We made a temporary fix with PVC pipe, but it just wasn't working too well so we had to remove it. It also posed a safety risk because a lot of water was being pumped, and we feared it might break again."
The public showers at Hamoa Beach in Hana have long been maintained and paid for by Hotel Hana-Maui, which is now the Travaasa Hana hotel, but due to damage to the main waterline and the large water bill, the showers are no longer in service. Travaasa Hana General Manager Danny Minor said that the financial burden is too much for the hotel and he is seeking help from the county.
The structure of the shower is still at the beach, but the waterlines have been shut off and the shower heads have been removed.
Mynar said that the hotel, formerly known as Hotel Hana-Maui, has always maintained and paid the water bill for the showers.
"We did it basically as a public service for the community," Minor said, noting that the hotel has private bathrooms and showers for its guests. "But it's just not fiscally possible anymore."
Mynar said that the water bill ranges from $20,000 to $24,000 a year and that does not include the cost of repair and maintenance of the waterlines. Minor said that it is difficult for any business to incur that type of expense and expect to survive in current economic times.
The hotel's general manager said that he had spoken with representatives with the county about receiving help with the water bill and maintenance and repairs.
"The county is willing to meet with Travaasa Hana to resolve this issue," said county spokesman Rod Antone on Friday.
The park fronting Hamoa Beach is owned by the hotel, which means that the county is not obligated to pay the water bill or maintain the public restrooms.
"Even I was surprised to hear that," said Paul Meyer, deputy director of the county Department of Water Supply about the park being under the jurisdiction of the hotel. "I bring my family to Hamoa Beach all the time and had no idea the hotel paid for the upkeep of the showers."
Meyer said that his department only became aware of the issue after reading a letter to the editor in The Maui News. His department contacted Mynar, who explained the problem with the pipeline and the water bill.
"By ordinance of county laws, we have to charge for the water that is being used," said Meyer. "But I sympathize with Mr. Mynar. That is a tremendous burden for one business to handle."
Neil Hasegawa, general manager of Hasegawa General Store in Hana, has been going to Hamoa Beach since he was a kid and remembers the showers always being there.
"I go at least three times a week," Hasegawa said. "I live right down the road though, so I can rinse off and hose my surfboard down pretty easily. But, I sympathize with the locals that travel over from the other side and don't have a public shower to use."
Hasegawa remembered the temporary fix of the waterline and agreed with Mynar that it posed a safety hazard.
"At one point, I was going to fix it myself," Hasegawa said. "But the main line was dug pretty deep into the ground, and the pipe was big so I thought better not."
Mynar said that he has a nonprofit in place that is ready to make necessary repairs to the showers, but that the water bill is a problem. Mynar hopes that this issue can be resolved as quickly as possible so the public can further enjoy one of Maui's most famous beaches.
Hamoa Beach has been consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Dr. Beach's list of the best beaches around the world ranked Hamoa No. 5 on his "Top 10 List of 2012." Even the legendary Mark Twain described Hamoa as one of the most beautiful beaches he had ever seen.
Hasegawa tries to remind his children how lucky they are to be living so close to such a scenic beach.
"I tell my kids all the time, 'Can you believe that this beach is right in our backyard?' '' Hasegawa said. '' 'Can you believe it?' I'm not sure if they know how lucky they are."
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at email@example.com.
* This article includes a correction from the original published on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. Danny Mynar is the general manager at Travaasa Hana hotel. His name was misspelled in a story on Page A1 about the public showers at Hamoa Beach being unusable due to the high water bill and a damaged waterline. The Maui News apologizes for the error.