Dark Side of the Waianae Coast of Hawaii

Updated on December 16, 2016

Homeless On the Beach

Tent City in Paradise
Tent City in Paradise

Paradise With Flaws

On the westernmost part of Oahu on the Leeward side is the Waianae Coast. It stretches 20 miles from the town of Nanakuli to Makaha. At the end of the island is the Makua Beach. The Waianae Coast is about 30 miles from Honolulu. When driving H-1 west to Waianae and exiting onto Farrington Highway, the only road in and out of Waianae, it takes you around the beautiful side of the island past the Ihilani Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, and breath-taking million dollar homes. After Ko Olina the road winds through Nanakuli, Maile, Waianae and finally Makaha. In Makaha there is the Makaha Resort & Golf Club. A chartered bus also carries tourists to Waianae to experience the beauty of dolphins and sea turtles playing.

The Waianae Coast offers a beautiful panorama of sights along with its own share of troubles. Road construction is always in progress, temporary road repairs last for months, and the asphalt roadway is repaired with steel plates that damage car tires and suspension. Since there is only one road in and one road out, cars have no option but to drive over the steel plates. Old buses with bad suspension, bus drivers with bad attitudes, courtesy of TheBus (transit system) service the Waianae Coast area.

Driving down the Farrington Highway through Waianae’s small towns the view of million dollar homes next to rundown shacks, overgrown weeds, rusted out broken down cars and trucks and on any given day discarded furniture or waste sitting on the side of the street detracts from the beauty and simple charm of Waianae. Along the beautiful stretches of beach scenery are rows and rows of dilapidated tents with homeless families and their pets living on the beach and at the end of the road past the town of Makaha is a full blown “tent city” with families of homeless living a day to day existence.

The Dark Side

Similar to a mainland urban ghetto, the small Waianae towns are peppered with convenience stores, liquor stores and fast food establishments. Drugs are closely interwoven into this landscape with methamphetamines (“ice”) and marijuana being the preferred choice of self-destruction. “Waianae Chronics” is the moniker for the people trapped in this endless downward spiral. One of the locals explained that the drug is everything to a chronic and for it they forget their families, their children and they steal to support the habit. She said, “It’s all about the high.”

Meth addiction is a serious blight on the Waianae Coast. The Hawaii Meth Project, a statewide program aimed at reducing first-time meth use through public service messages, public policy and community outreach is working hard to combat the use of meth among youth. They do not offer treatment for addicts but emphasize the importance of shaping public policy and the perception of crystal methamphetamine. In time perhaps their message may reach enough addicts to make a difference.

In an article written by Carol Forsloff (realviews.com) she writes…”There’s a saying that if you drive to Waianae, Hawaii don't drive too slow or someone will steal your tires. Well, that's no joke these days…” What a sad commentary on Waianae, a beautiful scenic area where a vast majority of locals have a beautiful and giving “aloha” spirit.

However, self-destruction is not a joking matter either. No one should joke about the impact of illicit drugs on a community. Drugs destroy families and lives. They create an environment where homelessness, helplessness, hopelessness and despair define the community.

Whether it is a mainland ghetto community or a tropical paradise island when a community loses the basic ethical and moral fiber of its existence society suffers the loss. Inevitably it is the poor and disenfranchised that lose the most. They suffer economic hardships; unemployment, substandard housing, homelessness and inferior education.

Almost always drug addiction among people in lower income communities is a direct reflection of the people’s hopelessness, despair and their daily battle against economic predators. The rationale offered, although flawed, is that drugs are the escape route from problems. In fact, drugs are the fast track to dependency, addiction and more problems that further erode economic prosperity.

The Waianae Coast is a beautiful scenic tropical setting, gorgeous beaches, bountiful farms and gardens, fruitful country living; roosters, pigs, chickens, dogs, horses, cats, weekend yard sales, beach camping, family restaurants, local color and style and locals with loving hearts and aloha spirit but the dark side of Waianae overshadows the gracious charm of the community.



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    • MizJeannie profile image

      E Jeannie Sanders 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Some of the people are homeless. I lived in Makaha for three years and I met houseless and homeless.

    • MizJeannie profile image

      E Jeannie Sanders 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I agree. I lived in Makaha for three years.

    • profile image

      anon 4 years ago

      The people along Farrington Hwy are not homeless, they are houseless. For the most part, they are working poor people who have been robbed of paradise by greedy white men, and cannot afford the price of real estate. Much like the American Indian, they pay the price for a few people becoming millionaires. Why do most find this so hard to see? Maybe because they are white too. But ask one and he will say he is a Christian.

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      Kevin 4 years ago

      I live in Makaha yes there are homeless people here but its no different than any other place. Leeward side is the best place to be on Oahu.

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      linda pine 5 years ago

      im from utah and i was reading your article and i feel really sad for these people but at least they wont get to suffer in the wintertime... and we also to have the same problem here with homelessness in our community...

    • profile image

      bobo fuller 5 years ago

      im from hawaii &&& ive been homeless almost all my life and yess everything you have said is true and i thank you for telling the world that not only in hawaii is it beautiful it also has its negative points ...

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      forever777 6 years ago

      If its not the meth who is to blame? Hawaii may have these horrific tent situations however the government is not doing as they were promised. Why is hawaiians the only humans who can survive off of land way before captain cook came they lived happy. They once had freedom. Hawaiians was as smart as anyone else. however you have mirconisians that were deported from micronisia because of government issues and military using there land without proper consent and bombing there island up so therefore they reside here in Hawai'i but why is it that they have a home, a roof over there head, even if they are getting help from the government. Why the people of Hawai'i who is Hawaiian isn't. That's a shame. That is no way to treat the hawaiians. Therefore the land was never a u.s property to claim. Hawaiians was here first and it was stolen from them. Queen was trap in her own room in her own palace. Held captive by military in order for her to sign the tredy. Again who is all to blame... There circumstances will never get better. Even if they get help from the state they still have housing, shelter homes costing almost there whole welfare check. Hawaiians gave up on themselves and on the U.s they perfer to be a native not a u.s citizen. Why must they claim to be something there not. It almost seems to be that they are not wanted on there own Island there own place of birth, there aina....

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      Abel007 6 years ago

      Like it has been said "all it takes is one bad apple!" and there may be a few loose ones rolling around. I would know because I was one of them. Before anyone should judge the people of Waianae, they should take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves "what makes them better than us?" Nothing!! All I can say is that people change(some quickly and some slowly). If I ever had a chance to change it, I wouldn't! I am now a strong minded and independent women, who once was very passive and dependent on other to help me make my choices in life. Now I have to choices: I can either be another to judge my fellow local people or be apart of the solution and help as I was helped.

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      unknown 6 years ago

      Very useful. I almost bid on a short sale. I am in CA. If it's too good to be true...

      It is a shame, to have a tent city that is not a Happy situation. We have the same situation with Meth.

      To visit HI and to live, maybe a fantasy of a better environment from here.

      Hopefully, I am wrong....

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      This makes me sad. At least they will not suffer the cold. I pray their circumstances will get better somehow.