Public urged to stay away with Sunset Beach erosion expected to get even worse

Erosion at Sunset Beach is expected to get worse over the next several days, so officials are urging beachgoers to stay away from some areas that are likely to get even more dangerous.

Experts say a series of northerly swells will wash away even more sand that has already exposed some concrete.

It has also eaten away portions of the bike path and created drop-offs at the shoreline.

Experts say that the erosion at Sunset Beach is the worst it’s ever been. It’s not clear if it will ever get back to the way it was.

City crews are addressing the more immediate concerns caused by the erosion.

The storage shed that was in danger of falling off a 20-foot cliff was taken apart Thursday. Ocean safety officials say their equipment will temporarily be stored across the street.

With three to four north swells expected to arrive in the next week, more sand will likely wash away, so the public is being urged to stay away from dangerous drop-offs.

“We know in the next couple of weeks, Christmas vacation, that Sunset Beach is going to be seeing these kinds of impacts, so everybody that goes to Sunset, we want them to know, please do not get around this cliff area. It could collapse,” said Jim Howe, director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

Experts tell us that conditions are not right to push sand back from nearby beaches, so at this point, nothing much can be done but warn the public.

With much of the beach blocked off, there’s not a lot of room for people to watch the Sunset Open Surf Contest next month, but organizers tell us it won’t be a problem.

“The majority of them at these local events like to just pull up the truck and sit in the bed and watch it anyway, and I think what we’d really want to monitor is to make sure that there’s not people walking straight out from their vehicles and going on that eroded dangerous area,” said Jodi Wilmott of the World Surf League, which organizes the event.

Experts are hoping that westerly swells can bring back at least some of the sand. They say foot traffic is also contributing to the problem, so they’re also looking at possibly building some type of elevated boardwalk along the beach.

“This might be a viable approach for a place like Sunset Beach where it’s a very important thoroughfare and to replace the concrete and asphalt with something elevated,” said Dolan Eversole from the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program.

As for the bike path, it’s being rerouted more mauka, closer to Kamehameha Highway, so drivers are asked to watch out for bicyclists and pedestrians.

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