Exposed sandbar creates optical illusion off Waikiki

Photo: Dolan Eversole

An exposed sandbar at a Waikiki beach has been getting a lot of attention lately.

It makes the water very shallow, especially during low tide, and allows beachgoers to get pretty far out, with the water not even up to their waist.

At times, it can look as though they’re walking on the water itself.

Beach boys and ocean experts say the sandbar has been around for generations.

“Sometimes when it’s on the minus tides or really low, it looks more exposed than normal,” said Didi Robello, Aloha Beach Services.

We found out it happens every year.

According to Dolan Eversole, Waikiki beach management coordinator for the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, the sandbar forms during the summer when the swells change. He says last year the sandbar was the largest it has ever been.

“It could be a function of El Nino the summer before, and there was just a very strong signal of westerly swells pushing to the area,” he said.

Locals say you can see the sandbar appear during low tide and it makes for good fun for beachgoers.

“They go out there. They like to play with their boogie boards, or they take their kids, you know, it’s kind of safe,” Robello said.

“The danger is if the sandbar does fall apart and there are holes in it. That’s when you start to run into safety issues,” Eversole said.

We asked if the 2012 sand replenishment project had anything to do with the sandbar.

“Since the infusion of more sand into the beach system in 2012, there is more sediment available to move around,” Eversole said.

Eversole is also part of the Waikiki Improvement Association and says there have been discussions of doing another sand replenishment project.

Eversole says they are hoping with the onset of the summer south swell season, Waikiki beach will start to see more sand move back onto the beach.

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