ala wai canal 1920 to 1928

Waikiki's shoreline was often narrow and rocky, sometimes at a 45 degree incline. Waikiki also had a wide coral reef system. This system enabled the legendary Waikiki ride (surf) – all the way from Steamers Lane to shore.

The reef also provided local people with an amazing fishing ground. The conjunction of sand and flat reef enabled squid, lobster, moi, papio, and a range of reef fish to flourish.


ala wai canal 1920 to 1928

In 1951 a total of 106,000 cubic yards of sand was hauled in from Waimanalo and Kaneohe Naval Air Station. The intent of this project was to widen Waikiki beach to 150 feet. This image would better match the Waikiki being formulated in people's mind by the tourist industry.

The newly formed artificial 'beach' drifted into the reef and filled in the squid and lobster habitat. It also sectioned off the surf so the classic Waikiki ride is no more.

This drift was noted in the 1951 Superintendent of Public Works Annual Report only five months after dumping in the sand. The exact language was "As we expected, there was some drift of sand, generally in the ewa direction, but the percentage is reported small."



In 2004, there are only a few feet of beach left in this area of Kuhio Beach / Kapahulu groin.

Some folks want to spend $25 million of State money to widen the beach again.

Some of these folks want to dump in more sand from elsewhere.[think head in sand]

Others of these folks want to siphon the sand that drifted into the reef back onto the beach. It is possible that the reef system can grow back.

editors note: The above 'solutions' have one thing in common -- they both imagine a wide beach as the only possible goal, even though they recognize that the sand will surely drift back into the reef system. Some clearly see sunbathing as the only relationship that humans can have with shorelines. Others seem most concerned with maintaining the tourist industry.

There are other ways to interact with shorelines and with nature in general. Sustainable economies can be built on sustainable ecologies. Nature is more than a 'natural resource' that fuels economic 'development'. It is a life-giving resource that must be maintained if life itself is to be possible.

We can eat fish and seaweed but it is illegal to eat tourists.