Makaha Beach Has Sand Again

Lack of sand had made the beach dangerous

Some would say sand erosion at Makaha Beach was reaching crisis level. Years of neglect by the city, relentless winter swells and storm runoff from Makaha Valley left the famed beach scarred.

But scars can heal when cared for properly.

Leeward Oahu residents recently decided waiting was no longer an option. This scar was not a badge of honor. It was an eyesore and a public-safety issue.

“It’s hard when you’re trying to educate government of what’s right and what’s wrong,” says respected community leader Brian Keaulana. “There’s a lot of politics and red tape to deal with, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. So family and friends got together to do what’s right for the community.”

Volunteers rallied to restore Makaha Beach on their own time and their own dime. With the approval of the city and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, private companies including PVT Land Co., Henry’s Equipment and Pueo Trucking pushed more than 1,800 cubic yards of sand from one portion of the beach to an area in desperate need of attention.

Volunteers made restoration possible

“If it weren’t for the help of the companies and the many volunteers, Hawaii would be in danger of losing one of the most famous beaches in the world,” says state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, who helped organize the restoration project. “It is critical that we got the work done immediately since the winter surf season is in full swing.”

“It’s the surf community and the construction community, you know what I mean, come down here help us guys with no money involved, and just kokua us,” adds Makaha resident James Rapoza.

The erosion left lifeguard stands and trees standing precariously on unstable ground and a parking lot that resembled a mini-cliff for unsuspecting drivers. Visitors often found themselves asking locals at the beach for a helping hand getting their front wheels back on the main road.

“You see cars falling off over here, kids stubbing their toes, they getting hurt,” says Keaulana.

“Whenever a car went over that was another case of beer for the boys,” jokes Uncle Buffalo Keaulana. “I guess no more beers for the boys now.”

No more beers for the boys because they took care of the problem and did so quickly. The restoration project was expected to take two days. They finished the job in three hours.

“They know how to carve hillside so this is natural to them, plus the operators come from Waianae,” adds Buffalo of the heavy equipment operators.

Local knowledge, but more importantly love for your local community. For many years, Leeward Oahu residents have faced adversity and a lack of follow-through from government agencies. But instead of whining, they find solutions.

“You can complain, but the best thing is do it yourself, and if people can jump on board and help us provide for ourselves and be self-sustaining, then that’s what we going do,” says Brian Keaulana. “And that’s what you’re seeing right here is us self-sustaining our beach – with our own community with our own people with our own equipment.”

Equipment operators were all from the Leeward side

One can only hope the tide will change at Makaha Beach and it gets the attention it deserves. The winter swells won’t stop nor will storm runoff, and it’s just a matter of time before bulldozers will need to return.

“As far as what it is right now, it’s good – you know, not great, but later on it can be greater when we talk and communicate more and say what should be done in a timely manner,” says Brian Keaulana.

“We need to come up with a long-term solution which addresses the erosion problem on an annual and systemic basis,” says Shimabukuro.

It will allow the beach to truly heal and save a few stubbed toes and flat tires along the way.

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