1000s flock to North Shore to see high surf, but traffic keeps m - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

1000s flock to North Shore to see high surf, but traffic keeps moving

File Image File Image
LANIAKEA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Take the first big swell of the winter surf season. Add the fact that the barriers have come down around the former parking area at Laniakea Beach. And then add a surf meet.

In the past, that has been a recipe for a traffic disaster on Oahu's North Shore.

But on this Saturday, as well as most of the past week, there were no huge traffic backups along Kamehameha Highway. That includes the stretch near Laniakea, which has become wildly popular with tourists who want to see the sea turtles that often rest there.

"Maybe there's less tour buses dropping folks off. Maybe we're in the slow shoulder season," said state Sen. Gil Riviere (D-Schofield, North Shore, Laie, Kaneohe). "And now with the surf coming up, the high surf, you can't see the turtles, either."

The state had placed the barriers at Laniakea in 2013 because of the big traffic bottleneck that had developed there. A group sued to have them removed and they came down in August.

There are signs that prohibit parking in the empty lot, which didn't stop people from doing so to check out the beach. They didn't stay long, as the beach itself was closed and access blocked by yellow tape.

Saturday was also the final day of the HIC Pro Surf meet at Sunset Beach. The contest had concluded by midday, and traffic was at what could be considered as normal weekend levels. But it is just the start of the winter surf season.

"It's one of the most high-impact tourist spots in the world for a reason, and the turtles are a worthwhile issue for us to be concerned about," said North Shore resident Jamila Starr.

Meanwhile, back at Laniakea, the parking problem hasn't getting bad, at least not yet. But there's still no permanent fix in the near future.

"Well, the ultimate solution can't even be discussed until they finish the environmental study that as begun five years ago," said Riviere. "That's just tragic."

Copyright 2015 HawaiiNewsNow. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly