A long-delayed renovation at the Maunakea Recreation Area came to fruition earlier this month after Hawaii County officials opened the facility for public use.
After a blessing ceremony Jan. 3, the recreation area’s bunkhouses were opened for rent after a lengthy renovation period that began in 2016.
Since the start of the renovations, the county installed a 3,700-square-foot playground, opened new restrooms and renovated the dining hall, but only now have the two bunkhouses been opened to the public.
Maurice Messina, deputy director of the county Department of Parks and Recreation, said the $11.6 million upgrades were delayed partly because of their scope, which included new furnishings and windows, the installation of a new potable water system, as well as additional work to ensure the facility is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Messina said.
With most of the work completed, groups and organizations are able to rent the facility’s bunkhouses for up to six consecutive nights. Hawaii residents can rent a bunkhouse — which can house up to 24 people — for $240 a night up to six nights, while non-Hawaii residents can do so for $480 a night.
Messina said the pricing is meant to be taken advantage of by school groups, Boy Scout troops, church gatherings and similar organizations. If a bunkhouse is filled to capacity, a one-night rental only costs $10 per person.
The bunkhouses received their first reservations last weekend, Messina said. Visitors can make reservations at the Hawaii County website, but Messina said visitors only will be permitted one reservation per year, in order to accommodate as many prospective guests as possible.
There remains some work to be done, however. The park’s concession area will be completed by the end of February, Messina said, and not only will provide food and drinks for guests but also supplies such as sleeping bags and cots.
“If you live on the island, you understand that if you forget something, you can just drive back home to get it,” Messina said. “But if you’re from Oahu or the mainland, you maybe don’t realize just how cold it can get up there, so they’ll be able to rent things like that if they need to.”
Meanwhile, the park’s seven cabins are scheduled to be opened in March, when ADA accessibility work is completed.
Messina envisioned the cabins as ideal spots for a weekend vacation with family or friends. Each cabin costs $75 per night and can house up to seven people.
“We’re trying to promote it as a great place for people to go to see the mountain,” Messina said.
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