Nature's sand shift widens Kuhio Beach

Published: Jan. 20, 2015 at 2:24 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2015 at 10:10 AM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Not that long ago the popular section of Kuhio Beach known for beach boys and surfing lessons was very low on sand. The shore was so stripped and bare, you could see blocks and boulders. But the shoreline has expanded in what seems like an overnight growth spurt.

"Before this sand, all the concrete was exposed," beach boy Larry "Boy" Shamblin said.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Conservation and Coastal Lands administrator Sam Lemmo estimates that over the past three weeks, the tide has carried in about 2,000 cubic yards of sand to the beach.

"It takes a particular type of wind from a particular direction," he said.

Sand moves along Waikiki Beach laterally. Wind conditions, swell direction, and tide pattern either pull sand away from Kuhio Beach, or bring it back.

"During the Kona conditions you see the sand moving back towards Diamond Head," Lemmo said. "It's nice to see the beach doing naturally what it does."

Hawaiian Oceans Waikiki Inc. surfing instructor Uini Niuelua said the extra real estate is better for beach businesses and beachgoers.

"Now people can sit out here, set up umbrellas, lay out. It's easy for the board boys to bring the boards back in," he said.

Australian visitor Karen Muller is happy her family's vacation coincided with the sand shift.

"It's fantastic! It's really smooth. It's lovely under the feet. It's great to sit with your family," she said.

Since the 1930s, man-made restoration projects have brought in about 250,000 cubic yards of sand to Kuhio Beach. The last was in 2012. Two men are suing the state over that effort, claiming they were injured because of "unnaturally shallow conditions" created by the sand replenishment.

Lemmo can't comment on the lawsuits, but he can about the state's intentions in maintaining Kuhio Beach.

"We're trying to make sure that the beach doesn't become so narrow that it's not useable," he said. "We come in periodically and dress it up with a little sand."

This time nature did the heavy lifting.

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