Honokea Surf Village set to develop
Rumors of a controversial wave pool proposed for Oahu’s west side are true. This January, the Hawaii Community Development Authority, HCDA, announced they are allowing surfer and Hawaiian legend Brian Keaulana (a partner in HK Management) to look into developing 19-acres of vacant state land in Kalaeloa.
If the project gets permission, the $72 million facility will feature a 5-acre wave pool, as well as a lazy river, and skate park, and will be called Honokea Surf Village. Other possible features include a stand-up paddling area, surf film studios, bungalows for overnight guests, a conference center with food service, an arrival plaza and 500 parking stalls.
Honokea representatives describe their project as a world-class facility that will celebrate Hawaii’s culture, offer consistent year-round waves for all levels and advance the future of the sport with training for professionals and Olympic team members.
“Our surfers are going elsewhere to practice. The ocean can only provide (so much),” Keaulana told board members of the HCDA, the state agency that owns the site.
Proponents for the project welcome the addition of local jobs, income to the area and use of currently vacant land.
Others argue that the proposed wave pool at the birthplace of surfing is superfluous and wasteful. While wave pools exist all over the country, they are much more common in land-locked locations such as the BSR Surf Ranch in Waco, Texas, or even Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch in California, which is inland and away from the shoreline.
SURFING Magazine's former editor and current author Beau Flemister says that the park is unnecessary, as Oahu boasts some of the best year-round surfing in the world.
“I think a wave pool in Hawaii, with the accessibility to such good waves and such a good variety of waves already, is unnecessary. Matt Warshaw has written extensively about why he’s kind of against wave pools, and it’s because they remove the surf and beach culture: knowing the tides, the winds, swell directions, ocean etiquette, even animals in the ocean, and that’s what makes surfing and surfers. And that’s especially true in a place like Hawaii, where there are already so many places to surf, and so much to learn about surfing,” Flemister said in a recent article appearing on surfer.com.
Nonetheless, HCDA’s board voted 7-1 to give Honokea 18 months to evaluate the site, including assessing the land and underground water supply, and to exclusively negotiate terms for a long-term lease.
Potential construction dates have yet to be announced.