Maui residents surprised to learn Haʻikū’s iconic Giggle Hill is pending sale
Haʻikū’s iconic recreational spot Giggle Hill is being sold for millions of dollars, and for some residents it’s not a laughing matter.
“That is so mind-blowing,” said Elena Dias, who is from Haʻikū and has been hiking and playing paintball there since childhood days. “How did this happen? Is all of Maui for sale?”
Adjacent to county-owned 4th Division Marine Memorial Park, a parcel of 214 acres that includes most of Giggle Hill is pending sale, according to a real estate listing that advertises the land for $10.5 million.
The listing boasts of Kauhikoa Hill, an “iconic north shore Maui landmark,” along with acreage that includes “open pastures, massive groves of mature Cook’s Pine and Eucalyptus trees and one mile of stream frontage.”
Also, the advertisement says the land has “current preliminary subdivision under review for 15 to 18 lots” and three county water meters.
Although Giggle Hill and 4th Marine Division Park are used interchangeably, the county’s real property tax maps show the areas are different.
Donated by Alexander & Baldwin in the 1990s, the 4th Division Marine Memorial Park is roughly 40 acres owned and maintained by the county Department of Parks and Recreation – except for the Tom Morrow Equestrian Arena, which is leased to a nonprofit. The park’s popular Kalākupua playground was originally built in a community effort by Haʻikū Community Association. Also, the park holds baseball, softball and soccer fields, BBQs, picnic areas, pavilions and restrooms.
Connected to the park by several hiking trails, Giggle Hill received its nickname during World War II as a spot where young Marines courted girls and couples were heard laughing.
In recent decades, the hill has been used for hiking, paintball and other recreational activities. By following any one of the footpaths to reach the top, the hill transitions into a fenced plateau that’s peppered with tall, sturdy pine trees.
The county’s tax map search shows that the boundary line for the 4th Division Marine Memorial Park property intersects the hill just below the plateau.
The plateau and the land makai of that is owned by Kauhikoa Investors LLC, which has an Ojai, Calif., mailing address. The 214 acres of agriculture land was last purchased in 2009 for $2.4 million.
Residents who heard about the pending sale said they’re saddened by the news, and they wondered what would come of the public access trails.
“It’s the perfect tree line to play paintball,” Dias said.
The lifelong Maui resident said sheʻs worried the area will be transformed into more multimillion-dollar luxury homes, just as sheʻs seeing happen with properties around Maui.
Haʻikū resident Noah Lebowitz said his kids love going up to explore the top of the hill and he always thought it was public land.
“I just hope they don’t close it off to the public,” he said. “It’s a hidden gem and it would be sad for all if it’s taken away.”
Makawao resident Patty Lee said she sometimes hikes up the hill and was disappointed to learn the area is up for sale.
“I’m just surprised to hear that,” she said.
The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The realtor declined to comment.