WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Shifting sand is upping the danger at two of Oahu's most popular beaches. Experts inspected both erosion hot spots today as homeowners and beachgoers wait to see if anything can be done.
Surf instructors at Hawaiian Oceans Waikiki are warning their students about more than just the waves. The beach in front of their business has been shrinking during the last few weeks, exposing concrete and other dangers.
"We have been taking some of the rocks out with the rebar. Just what we can carry and what we can see so the people don't get hurt going in and out of the water with our equipment and the boards," said surf instructor John Paul Kaleopaa.
The state finished a major project to replenish the sand between Kuhio Beach and the Royal Hawaiian groin in May 2012. Some erosion happened this past January, but the sand naturally returned. This time the problem is worse. Experts aren't sure why the sand keeps shifting in this spot.
"There is ongoing beach survey monitoring going on here where they come here and do regular profile surveys of the beach," said Bradley Romine of UH's Sea Grant College Program. "We're gathering information, but we only have less than a year of data on that."
The city plans to wait and see if the winter waves bring the sand back. Officials said if crews tried to move sand in now, the ocean would just carry it away.
Over on Oahu's North Shore, several homeowners near Sunset Beach are on edge. Severe erosion caused by northeast swells led to the loss of backyards, staircases, and even a swimming pool.
"The first big west swells of the year come by and bring the sand back where it sat before the summer started and the trade winds moved it so it's a normal weather pattern that's a little more exaggerated. This is by far the worst I've ever seen it," said North Shore resident Pete Hodgson.
The city is responsible for managing the shoreline near the homes under an executive order issued in 1971. An inspector plans to visit the area on Tuesday to determine the next steps.
DLNR workers visited the site on Monday to offer advice. Property owners will likely need to obtain permits for some solutions and there are no easy answers.
"Maybe you can move sand in the area to give you more buffer area. Maybe you can build a temporary shore protection device. Maybe you build a seawall," said Sam Lemmo, administrator of the Office of Conservation & Coastal Lands.
"We just need to hui up and get together and kind of figure out the best game plan, the best case scenario to improve the situation before there is houses and there is rebar and nails and all kinds of dangerous things in the ocean," said property manager Kevin Emery.