BY MIRIAM LANDRU – A sapphire ocean with gentle waves, emerald palm trees blowing in the trade winds and miles and miles of white sand beach. That is what people around the world think of when they visualize Waikiki – one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world.
But the white sand beach has eroded over time, and now a major Waikiki property owner and the state government are teaming up to replenish and revitalize the area at a cost of $2.5 million, $500,000 of which is in private funding.
The plans to restore one section of Waikiki Beach – an estimated 1,700-foot shoreline of Waikiki Beach beginning at an area between the Sheraton Waikiki and Royal Hawaiian Hotel and ending at the Duke Kahanamoku statue – were presented Thursday, May 12 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson, William Aila.
Hawaii Tourism Authority president Michael McCartney and Kyoya Executive Vice President Ernest Nishizaki, who are supporting this project financially, were also in attendance.
“This is a beach that is beloved by our citizens, tourists, and our young keiki. It is a very important fabric of Hawaii,” Aila said.
About 24,000 cubic yards of sand will be moved from offshore deposits 2,000 yards off the shore and pumped to the shoreline where the sand will then replenish the beach. “This process involves getting sand off shore that was put here in the 1920s to build the beaches for visitors and for our local folks. It’s the sand that has because of time and tides have moved offshore. Now we need to repeat this process again,” Aila added.
The project is expected to take about 60 days and will begin after the south swell season in December 2011 or January 2012. However, based on weather conditions, the project could take as long as six months. It will be completed in phases so as not to discourage visitors and residents from visiting Waikiki Beach. Most of the beach will remain open for use.
The project is slated to cost 2.5 million. Kyoya and HTA are providing the project with $500,000 each and the state taxpayers are covering the rest.
State officials said the project will create many local jobs for contractors and suppliers. A general contractor to oversee the project has not yet been hired, but the state has put the project out to bid.