Kuhio Beach is disappearing. There are ways to save the surf and sand, but not everyone agrees on how
By Catharine Lo
May 05, 2004
The development of Waikïkï has been an ongoing muscle-flex of man over nature. Buildings beg
encroaching on the sea as early as 1881, when the Long Branch Baths (on the future site of the
Moana Surfrider) were constructed at the water’s edge, boasting a 40-foot slide that skipped hum
into the ocean. A 390-foot-long seawall was added in 1890 to protect Waikïkï Road. In 1927, the
Natatorium was built 200 feet out onto the reef. Structures continued to be erected and removed
little regard for coastline impact.
As the cliché goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Nobody will dispute that, despite
numerous nourishment efforts, the sand has left the beach. What will be disputed is if, how and why it should be put ba
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) plans to pump sand into Waikïkï this summer. The project wo
add 10,000 cubic yards of sand to three spots: the Diamond Head and Ewa swimming basins where water is retained b
crib wall and the stretch, labeled Site 3, from the area stretching from the Duke Kahanamoku statue to the Sheraton Mo
Separately, the DLNR requested $2.39 million in the governor’s budget to remove the existing crib wall and replace it w
row of T-groin breakwater structures. Both measures have raised flags for concern, evoking the perennial tug-of-war
between so many sets of opposing forces: change and status quo, technology and tradition, developers and
conservationists, Hawaiian ways and haole ways, materialism and spirituality, reality and myth, past and future.
Kühiö Beach’s sand has come in lump sums from other O‘ahu beaches, including Yokohama and Waimea. Sand volum
measured by the cubic yard—the equivalent of about one big pick-up truckload. In the last 66 years, Kühiö has receive
261,157 cubic yards of sand in seven loads.
Where has all that sand gone? The currents at Kühiö Beach carry sand down the shore where it collects in front of the
Hawaiian. While the expanded playground may delight the hoteliers, it has spawned public safety issues. According to
Waikïkï lifeguard, every day he and his colleagues rescue 10 to 15 people who have walked out along the sandbar and
had trouble getting back to shore through the surf zone.
"There can be 200 to 500 people waist-deep standing there with the surfers, canoes and catamarans," he reports. "The
couldn’t walk out that far before. It’s a lifeguard nightmare."