TikToker Slams Tourists for Climbing on Closed, Dangerous 'Stairway to Heaven' in Hawaii

A woman's TikTok video went viral after criticizing tourists shown in footage climbing the closed and dangerous Haʻikū Stairs, also called the 'Stairway to Heaven,' in Hawaii.

The video, posted by Camille Leihulu Slagle under the user account of @camilleslagle, has amassed more than 2.6 million views and 7,650 comments since it was published on November 17.

"Haʻikū Stairs have been illegal since 1987," the on-screen text read. "Hawaiians & Hawai'i residents pay thousands in taxes to rescue people who get stuck up here."

In the footage she is referencing, several tourists filmed themselves viewing a rainbow on top of the stairs.

"Why do outsiders get to blatantly ignore laws and rules & do as they please without facing any repercussions or acknowledging the consequences that Hawaiians have to deal with as a result of their actions?" the text overlay read.

In the video, Slagle shakes her head as the tourist's footage plays simultaneously. She explained in the comments that the stairs are "extremely dangerous" and people often get stuck on them because they get lost.

"The way that I, a hawaiian, have never been up these stairs on HAWAIIAN land, & I will never get to thanks to ignorant tourism," Slagle said in the comments.

The stairs are located on the island of Oahu and were officially closed to the public in 1987. The pathway gave the U.S. Coast Guard access to a radio antenna located at the top of the mountain.

But after the station was terminated, maintenance on the stairs also ended. That left the pathway unmaintained and extremely dangerous. The forbidden trail is known to be a difficult hike, with approximately 3,922 stairs to the summit.

In 2003, the city paid $875,000 to repair the path in hopes of reopening the trail. But the trail still remains closed to the public. People who do attempt the climb can find themselves subjected to citations from the authorities.

In a May interview with Teen Vogue, Slagle explained that Hawaiian tourism is based on exploiting native cultures.

"The tourism industry makes money by exploiting Hawaiian culture," Slagle said. "Hawaii has been portrayed as a paradise and an escape from reality for so long that of course people want to come here to forget their troubles. They'll leave Hawaii with happy memories, but they won't think about the harm they might have caused to the people who actually live here."

In the comments about her video, some users mentioned that they have a right to explore. And some even called Slagle a "gatekeeper" and told her to stop "complaining."

"Some say we are 'gatekeeping' Hawaii, which makes no sense," Slagle told Teen Vogue. "We're simply trying to reclaim what was ours in the first place."

Haiku Stairs Hawaii
A Hawaiian woman criticized tourists for climbing the sacred Haʻikū Stairs, also called the "Stairway to Heaven." The stairs have been closed to the public since 1987 after they were deemed dangerous for the public. iStock

But many users came to Slagle's defense and called out some commenters for being "entitled" and gaslighting her. Others mentioned that tourists should learn to respect the culture of the places they visit.

"It's the way y'all are trying to gaslight her and invalidate her feelings," one user commented. "Tourists need to know how to respect cultural places."

"That is that American privilege; taking that 'I do what I want' attitude everywhere. LAME & EMBARRASSING," another person wrote.

Newsweek reached out to Slagle but did not receive a comment in time for publication.