Waikiki Beach's shoreline is currently being replenished. // (c) 2012 Joe Solem
Even the most timeless of natural treasures needs tending from time to time. Such is the case with Waikiki Beach, whose golden sands get washed away over time by waves, currents and trade winds.
To combat this problem, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) restores the sand when needed. Its latest replenishment, currently underway, aims to replace approximately 1,730 feet of shoreline in front of the Moana, Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and Royal Hawaiian hotels. The three-month project is expected to wrap up on March 31.
The project's objective is to return the beach to its 1985 condition using a state-of-the-art sand-blowing technology to transport sand along the beach. The project is a prime example of a successful public and private partnership, with financial support coming from DLNR's beach fund, the Hawaii Tourism Authority and Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts.
"We are very excited about this project and the opportunity to reclaim beach sand that has been lost to erosion," said DLNR chairperson William Aila, Jr. "This 'recycling' program offers a more efficient method for maintaining a recreational beach while mitigating some of the environmental impacts of imported sand to the Waikiki ecosystem over the past 60-plus years."
Waikiki is an icon of Hawaii with cultural, recreational and economic significance to both residents and visitors, Aila added.
"It is our responsibility to maintain this world-famous beach and replenish those areas that are disappearing due to coastal erosion," he said.
Since the project requires a 60-day operating window of calm seas, it has been scheduled during the winter, which typically has the mildest wind and wave conditions in Waikiki. Construction activities take place during daylight hours, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., seven days a week.
In order to ensure public safety, certain areas of the beach will be closed from time to time. However, since over four million visitors relax and play on Waikiki Beach each year, the sand replenishment project can truly be called an investment in the future of tourism in Waikiki.