If you’re on Oahu, you’re likely aware of the Waikiki beach sand replenishment project. If not, head on down to tourist city and check out the big equipment that’s parked there on Kuhio Beach. The machinery, while inconvenient to camera-hungry visitors expecting postcard views from end to end, it’s only affecting a portion of the beach right now and will do so with moving closures over the next five weeks according to a recent news clip. The project is expected to increase Waikiki beach width by over 35 feet when completed.
As a former coastal geography academic, I really find it interesting on a “meta-level” of observation when man tries to control the “permanent impermanence” of coastal systems. There are few things in nature less stable than beaches. They naturally breathe, growing and shrinking in all directions on daily, monthly, yearly and even decadal time cycles. Yet we continue to build jetties, groynes, seawalls and revetments that, at their very best, provide temporary periods of safety and usage, to give the idea of ‘control’. Yet these initiatives are temporary at best, even the ones with longer life spans.
However, that doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose. It’s a trade-off between what’s given up (costs, sand in front of a seawall or behind a groyne) and what’s gained (beach width, more permanent shorelines, land and home protection). It comes down to a society’s wants, needs, resources and values.
Back to Waikiki, the cost is expected to be more than negated by the increased aesthetics of a wider beach and greater tourist experience which should bring in greater revenues. Do you agree?
What effects do you think this will have on the vacation rental market in Waikiki? Do you think a landlord will be able to realize increased rents from a wider beach? Will condo owners see any uptick in property value?