An adult critiquing a playground is kind of like a cat delivering the surf report. It simply wasn’t made for us. So I’ll turn to my three-year-old son, who, when asked what playground he wants to visit, invariably chooses “the wooden one.” What he means—and what he’d say if he were a stiff-kneed grownup incapable of enjoying the pleasures of a twisty slide—is the 4th Marine Division Memorial Playground at Giggle Hill. (Really, “the wooden playground” is much less cumbersome, and more descriptive.) By any name, it’s a great spot, cooled by Haiku breezes, surrounded by open green fields and covered picnic tables ideal for birthdays and other kiddie occasions, and, most essentially, boasting a ton of quality play equipment, tailored for everyone from timid toddlers to rambunctious elementary schoolers. Adults are the ones who voted this the winner, but it’s the kids who’ve truly spoken.
Since da World War II days--when this Kokomo Road park was a camp/training ground for the 4th Marine Division--“Giggle Hill” has been the perfect place to cavort under the trees’ canopy and count bases with your beau. While its nickname comes from teeheeing about tittie-touching, there are lots of (more wholesome) reasons to laugh. The park’s also prime real estate to fly a kite, or battle with buds using homemade medieval war implements (forged of foam noodles and duct tape), or snack on a Fukushima hotdog or five. But since 2004, the park’s boasted a nonpareil playground, built thanks to community donations. Named “Kalapukua Playground”--in short, meaning “magical playground”--the dark wood structure’s centerpiece is a glittering mosaic depicting frolicking honu. It’s a wonderland of spires, slides, swings and steps--and makes for a ready-made day trip with your innocent keiki (while you still can).
Giggle Hill's Kalakupua Playground is the one playground to rule them all. Seriously, it is like a castle for small children. But as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. This playground took a few years of planning, designing, fundraising (it cost around $240,000) and finally construction, and relied on the work of hundreds of volunteers. It was a huge community effort that paid off big time. Its disabled-accessible and features mosaics and murals, along with slides, climbing structures and everything else you can think of. Mile 2, Kokomo Rd., Haiku
Best Playground Giggle Hill Apparently our readers haven’t actually visited the Kalakupua Playground at 4th Marine Division Park in Haiku (known locally as Giggle Hill) lately, because the playground has been closed for some time. Oh, don’t get us wrong: there’s enough equipment and catwalks there to give any kid hours of enjoyment, but as of now, no one can use it because county officials closed it last October after deeming it unsafe. That means the County Parks Department will have to demolish it, then build a new playground that meets national safety standards. And no one’s really said when that will happen, or how many hundreds of thousands of dollars it will cost. @apignataro Runner-up: Keopuolani Regional Park