State shuts down Little Beach over big, maskless parties

'Reckless behavior' of residents, visitors blamed for closure

State Department of Land and Natural Resources announced the immediate closure of Little Beach in Makena after a massive, maskless party Sunday captured on film. DLNR photo

After social media posts showing 400 people without masks partying Sunday at Little Beach in Makena, the state decided to shut down the area, known for drum circles, nudity, illegal alcohol and other illicit substances.

Pointing to “reckless and illegal behavior” that could spread coronavirus, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced the immediate and temporary closure of Pu’u Ola’i beach, or Little Beach, the smaller of two beaches located in Makena State Park.

Anyone caught at Pu’u Ola’i could be cited for entering a closed area, according to the state news release Tuesday. Closed signs and fencing are being installed at the beginning of the path that leads to Pu’u Ola’i Beach.

“Participants in the Sunday gatherings shoulder full responsibility for this closure,” DLNR chairwoman Suzanne Case said. “It’s too bad their astounding lack of personal responsibility, penalizes everyone else who abides by the rules.”

Social media posts from last Sunday show about 400 people on the beach, disregarding state mask mandates and social distancing guidelines. The gatherings pose high-risk situations for COVID-19 spread, the state said.

“The parties have the possibility of becoming so-called super spreader events,” Case said.

Over the summer, a participant in a Sunday party at Little Beach was tied to COVID-19 spread, the release said.

DLNR said Sunday afternoon and nighttime beach parties with drum circles, nudity, alcohol and other illicit substances have long plagued Little Beach.

State Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers have made repeated trips to Little Beach on Sundays and have issued citations for alcohol violations.

“Unfortunately, we simply don’t have the manpower to effectively deal with crowds of several hundred people on a weekly basis,” DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said.

Big Beach at Makena State Park will remain open and all visitors are reminded to follow all park rules, along with current county and/or state COVID-19 mandates.

DLNR will be monitoring the compliance of this temporary closure and examining other more permanent solutions to “impeding and eliminating this reckless and illegal behavior on public land that is a valuable recreational and cultural landscape,” the release said.


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