Wailua River Mouth

Speaking of scooping, I saw and odd sight at Wailua beach last week and went home to get my camera. I parked between the two bridges and walked across the road next to the one-lane bridge:

Is that another courageous surfer trying to stop a super Caterpillar from invading Kauai? And just what exactly is that excavator doing on the beach? Perhaps a little context will help:

After a day of rain, and with more in the forecast, the county (or maybe the state, I’m not sure) dredges out the mouth of the Wailua river to keep the water from rising inland.

Most rivers in Hawaii still have a natural outflow to the ocean, and the beach sand acts as a natural dam that creates a wide lagoon inland. And right now at the beginning of summer, ocean currents and wave action deposit more sand on the beach, which is why most of the beaches are wider in the summer. But that creates problems when there are out-of-season rain-storms as we’ve had.

But what about the surfers?

When the lagoon is breached, the strong flow of water creates standing waves coveted by the surfers—the mythical infinite wave. Because these waves are usually too small for surfing, body-boarders flock to the site to jump in and try to ride one until the sands shift and the wave forms elsewhere. From what I could see, the waves weren’t very convincing and none of them had long rides. I’ve heard of surfers digging the channel themselves to drain the lagoons at the smaller river-mouths, trying to create their own wave. I don’t recommend the practice, because storm runoff and standing lagoon water have high levels of bacteria and pollutants.

It looks like the body-boarders weren’t the only ones having fun. Who would not want to play with such an enormous sand toy—and get to dig real channels with it?

When he was done with the channel, he spent some time flattening out the piles of sand, so the beach looked natural again.

After watching them for a while, I found another spot to view the river and noticed that there were two channels for the river to flow in. I had assumed that the sand had blocked the river almost completely, as happens on the smaller rivers, and the excavator had to create or enlarge it. But the natural channel is the one on the right, and they doubled the outflow of the river by creating a second channel through the sandbar.

It’s a good thing too, because we had over an inch of rain a few days later.

While I was down by the bridge, I saw this strange sign warning paddlers about dangers under the bridge. I think that the old reinforced concrete on the bridge was flaking a bit and pieces would fall off. That would explain the stucco coating you see here, to protect the remaining concrete from the salt spray. But why then did they leave the sign?

Not to fear, the bridge was recently tested and still found to be very solid. Originally a railway bridge for sugar cane hauling trains, it will be retrofitted with two lanes of traffic and the future bicycle path.

Moving around a little, I found another little strip of land that is seldom seen. This triangular area is hidden between the access to the one-lane bridge, the river, and the Aloha Beach Hotel. I had never noticed the nice little grove of palm trees here. Off to the left in the distance are the ruins of the Hikina a ka la heiau and Hauola, the place of refuge, at the edge of Lydgate park.

The only reason I took this picture is because this is undoubtedly where the future bike path will go, when they managed to connect downtown Kapaa to Lydgate park. So this is the “before” picture, and I’m anxiously awaiting the chance to take the “after” picture.

Printed from: http://great-hikes.com/blog/wailua-river-mouth/.
© 2024.


  1. Jack R. says:

    Kukuiula sucks. The people at Kukuiula treat you like meat. They want you to buy property and once you do, they ignore you while they wine and dine new potential buyers. Don’t waist your money or time with this peice of crap development. The worst people are Stewart Munroe and Hannah Sirois. Take my advice and stay as far away from this joke of a development.

    Sure, its all fun when they are trying to get your business but after you spend millions on your lot, you cannot build. They do not have water rights and are stil meeting wit hte State of Hawaii after 5 years. So, if you buy, you can never build.

  2. Andy says:

    Hi Jack,

    Thanks for leaving an interesting comment on my blog. Since I’m not a big fan of big development, I’m interested in your story, even if you left a fake email.

    However, you posted the comment on the wrong article(s). If you repost to the following article that mentions Kukuiula, I will approve it (even as the moderator, I cannot move your comment myself):


    I can’t guarantee anybody else will respond, but I will at least, and then it will be in a place where the search engines will find it should someone be doing research on Kukuiula.

  3. homesnake says:

    Hey dude. U have a great blog, but no updates for a looong time. U no like kauai no more?

  4. homesnake says:

    come on doode. No updates since how long????

  5. Ami says:

    Thank you for all the pictures! Your descriptions of the river are fantastic. It must have been an incredible site to behold!

  6. Fred says:

    This was a great blog. I hope you’re not done with it.

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