Waikīkī Sand

Waikīkī Sand

“ʻOiai ʻo Waikīkī ke kikowaena o ka ʻoihana malihini, he koʻikoʻi kona mālama kūpono ʻia no ka ʻekonomia,” wahi a ke kahu o ke Ke’ena Conservation and Coastal Lands, ʻo Sammuel Lemmo.

Ma mua naʻe o ko Waikīkī lilo ʻana he wahi hoʻonānea kaulana o Hawaiʻi nei, ua momona nō ke kaiaola o laila mai nā mauna kiʻekiʻe o Mānoa a hiki loa i nā one kaulana o ia kahakai nei.

“Ua like ke kahakai me ka waihona panakō ma ka hoʻokomo a lawe ʻia o ka waiwai,” wahi a ke poʻo a polopeka no SOEST, ʻo Dr. Chip Fletcer. “Eia naʻe, ua hiki ke lawe nui ʻia ka waiwai ma o kā kākou hana.”

A ʻo ko kākou ʻākeʻakeʻa ʻana i ko ia ʻāina ke kumu o kēia ʻaʻaiawā nei.

“Kūkulu ʻia nā alaloa a me nā hale nui ma kapa kai a ke pilikia ua mau mea nei, kūkulu ʻia nā pā e hoʻokū i ka ʻaʻaiawā ʻana. Eia naʻe, ʻaʻohe kōkua o kēia i ka pono o ke one kekahi,” wahi a Dr. Chip.

No laila, ma kahi o ka ʻohi ʻana i ke one mai nā kahakai a wahi ʻē aʻe ma waho o Waikīkī e like me ka mea i hana ʻia ma mua, ua ʻimi ʻia kekahi ala ʻokoʻa e ke aupuni i mea e hoʻoponopono ai ia pilikia nei.

A i ko Dr. Chip manaʻo, ua kūpono nō. “Ma muli o ko mākou hōʻaʻahu nui ʻana i ke one, ke hoʻāʻo nei mākou e ʻimi i ʻōnaehana i kokoke i ke ʻano maoli.”

Ke ʻohi nei ke aupuni i ke one he ʻelua kaukani ʻelima haneli kapuaʻi mai waho aku o Waikīkī i mea e kāpili hou ʻia ke kahakai mai ke kiahoʻomanaʻo ʻo Duke a hiki loa aku i ka hōkele ʻo ka Royal Hawaiian.

“E ʻohi ana mākou i kēlā one i mea e hoʻōla hou i ke kahakai o Waikīkī. A ma ia ʻōnaehana nei e ʻike ai mākou āhea mākou e hoʻihoʻi hou ai i ke one i ke kahakai,” wahi a Sam.

Eia naʻe, ua hiki nō iā kākou ke hōʻalo i kēia pilikia nei inā ua noʻonoʻo pono mua ʻia .

“Ua ʻoi aku ka maikaʻi o ka mālama ʻia ʻana o kekahi mahele ʻāina he 200-400 kapuaʻi i mālama ʻia mai kapa kai aku. A laila ma mauka o kēlā kahi i hiki ke kūkulu ʻia nā hale nui,” wahi a Dr. Chip.

A aia kēia ʻelua haneli i ka ʻehā haneli kapuaʻi ma kahi o ke alanui ʻo Kuhiō i kēia manawa, he kōā nui ia mai kahi e kū nei nā hale nui i kēia manawa. Eia naʻe he ʻike koʻikoʻi kēia e noʻonoʻo ai ke hoʻomaka hou ke kukulu ʻana o nā hale nui. A i ko Dr. Chip manaʻo, he koʻikoʻi ia i ʻoi aku kona waiwai ma mua o ko kākou ʻekonomia.

“ʻO nā kahakai kekahi hiʻohiʻona maoli o Hawaiʻi nei. Me ka ʻole o ia mau kahakai nei, ʻaʻohe o kākou hope e hoʻi aku ai.”

“Waikīkī being really the center of the tourist industry in Hawaiʻi, is essential to making sure the economy stays healthy and vibrant,” says the Administrator of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, Sammuel Lemmo.

However, before Waikīkī became a major tourist destination, it had a rich natural ecosystem from the mountains all the way to the beach.

“A beach is like a bank account,” says Professor and Associate Dean at SOEST, Dr. Chip Fletcher. “There are inputs and take aways from the bank account of sand and if humans interfere with nature’s ability to manipulate the sand on a beach, we could cause erosion without realizing it.”

And interference is exactly what happened.

“We’ve put highways right next to the shoreline, we’ve put hotels and homes and when sea level rise and beach erosion threatens those features, we tend to put up sea walls to protect them and a sea wall on an eroding beach spells the end of that beach,” says Dr. Chip.

So instead of collecting sand from offshore beaches as we’ve done in the past, the state has found an alternative method.

And according to Dr. Chip, this was a necessary decision. “Because we’ve engineered and altered the shoreline so dramatically over the last century we are trying to reestablish a natural process that has been lost.”

The State is taking sand from Waikīkī sand fields 2500 ft. off shore to replace sand from the Duke statue to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

“So we’re going to go get that sand and we’re going to pump it to the beach and use that sand to re-nourish the beach and um do basically a monitoring of the beach over time to see how the erosion is progressing to know when we have to come back and do a re-nourishment after that,” says Sam.

However, this all could have been avoided had we simply evaluated it.

“It would make a lot of sense to create a buffer zone, a strip- a green strip- between the beach and the first building or the first road, make a natural coastal park that could be 200-400ft wide for instance. Put the hotels and all of the shops and everything mauka of that,” says Dr. Chip.

This 200-400 feet is where Kuhiō Ave lies today. Obviously it’s a big gap from where our hotels stand and is important to remember for future planning because according to Dr. Chip, there is a deeper value to our beaches than economics.

“Beaches are endemic to Hawaiʻi. They are a feature that is part of what is Hawaiʻi, what it was in the past, what it will be in the future and if we lose beaches then we’re going to be losing a piece of ourselves and a piece of our culture.”

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