‘Sand mattress’ central to new effort to save Waikiki beach

'Sand mattress' central to new effort to save Waikiki beach
(Image: City & County of Honolulu)
(Image: City & County of Honolulu)

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell joined other environmental experts in Waikiki on Sunday to announce a new effort aimed at addressing chronic erosion at Hawaii's most famous beach.

They're calling it the "sand mattress" pilot project.

"This mattress is similar to a quilt on your bed," said Troy Ogasawara, president of Geotech Solutions, Inc. "Each of those tubes in the quilt is filled with sand so it gives it a lot of mass."

"The mattress itself won't magically make the beach reappear, but it certainly will stabilize the area and make it more safe," said Dolan Eversole with the UH Sea Grant Program.

City crews installed the 90-foot-long and 12-foot-wide "mattress" on the shoreline of Kuhio beach last week.

Ongoing erosion has exposed old foundation of the Waikiki Tavern back in the 1940s.

After several attempts in years past of just pushing sand back on top, Caldwell hopes the $3,000 project will help get the job done, for now.

"The goal here is to see if it works and if It does, to repeat it in other areas," said Caldwell. "It can last as long as 10 to 20 years, although my hope is to have a permanent solution by then."

Waikiki surf instructor Corbin Peleiholani has watched the beach slowly disappear over the years.

He believes the removal of two nearby groin structures in 2012 exacerbated erosion.

"It's affected our business here on the beach," Peleiholani said. "We have to walk down the beach in order for us to get into the water, when we used to go into water right from here."

So what's the long-term solution?

Sand replenishment never really lasted in the past and the mayor says removing the concrete completely will only hasten the erosion.

"What we've been talking about is the possibility of installing a sand bag groin roughly at the Ewa edge of the foundation," said Eversole.

"That's an option I'm very much interested in," Caldwell said.

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