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Public hearing scheduled March 7 to seek comments on plan to improve aging Royal Hawaiian Groin

Posted on Mar 1, 2017 in Latest Department News

HONOLULU – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 to receive testimony on the conservation district use application (CDUA) OA-3784 for the Royal Hawaiian Groin Improvement Project at Waikiki beach. The hearing will start at 6 p.m. at the Waikiki Community Center auditorium, at 310 Paoakalani Ave. in Waikiki.

The existing Royal Hawaiian Groin is located on Waikiki Beach, and extends seaward from the shoreline between the Sheraton Waikiki and Royal Hawaiian hotels. The 370- foot-long groin anchors and stabilizes the middle section of Waikiki Beach, known as the Royal Hawaiian Beach littoral cell, which extends from the groin 1,730 feet east to the crib wall at west Kuhio Beach. The Royal Hawaiian Beach backshore is occupied, from west to east, by the Royal Hawaiian, Outrigger Waikiki, and Moana Surfrider hotels, and three beach concession operations at the east end.

The purpose of the proposed project is to repair or replace the failing Royal Hawaiian Groin with a new stable structure engineered for this location. The objectives of the proposed project are to maintain the beach so that it can provide its intended recreational and aesthetic benefits; to facilitate lateral access along the shore; and to provide a first line of defense for the backshore beach area.

The Royal Hawaiian Groin is in a very deteriorated condition, and it is estimated that it could fail at any time. Only the first approximately 150 feet of the groin is functional; after that it is submerged and broken apart. Continued deterioration of the groin will lead to collapse of the structure, releasing the sand from Waikiki Beach that is held on its eastern side.

The Royal Hawaiian Groin was originally built in 1927 and utilized a large rock rubble mound on the western side to assist in structural stability. This rock buttress no longer exists. Of primary concern is the landward portion of the groin which holds the existing sand beach in place, and which is severely undermined, missing a significant portion of the inter-block grout, and leaning to the west. The partial failure of the structure has led to increased undermining of the foundation and loss of sand from the recently nourished beach on the east side. As a result, large sinkholes periodically develop on the east side of the groin, which require filling.

In December 2012, approximately 45 large geotextile sandbags were placed against the west side of the groin extending approximately 42 feet from shore to buttress the groin to prevent it from collapsing. The sandbags are currently in a deteriorated condition. The entire top row of bags has been displaced, resulting in loss of contact with the groin and decreasing the effectiveness in stabilizing the groin. These sandbags were intended to serve as a temporary measure until a permanent groin improvement plan could be implemented.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources DLNR) published a Final Environmental Assessment (FEA) and Finding of No Signifiant Impact (FONSI), entitled “Royal Hawaiian Groin Improvement Project”, on May 2, 2016. The FEA provides a detailed discussion of four alternative options for a new groin: a new 180-foot-long rock L or T-head groin; a new 280-foot-long rock L or T-head groin; adaptive re-use of the existing groin as the core of a new 160-foot-long rock L-head groin; and a new 160-foot-long vertical concrete wall groin. (Note: the groin length refers to the combined length of the stem plus head as measured along the crest of the structure. The distance the structure extends seaward from the shoreline is less than this length.)

The new groin would be designed to maintain the approximate beach width of the 2012 Waikiki Beach Maintenance Project. No enlargement of the beach is proposed; thus, the 280-foot-long rock L or T-head groin option is larger than necessary and was thus eliminated from further consideration.

Copies of the CDUA are available for review at:

  • The Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL), Kalanimoku Building Room 131, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, HI, 96809
  • Waikiki Public Library, 400 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI, 96815
  • On the OCCL website,

All interested persons are urged to attend the public hearing to present relevant information and individual opinion for the DLNR to consider. Disabled individuals planning to attend the hearing are asked to contact the OCCL at least 5 days in advance of the public hearing to indicate if they have special needs which require accommodations. For more information regarding this notice, contact Natalie Farinholt at (808) 587-0399.

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Media contact:

Deborah Ward

DLNR Communications Specialist

Phone: (808) 587-0320



(All images courtesy: Hawaii DLNR)


Photographs: (aerial views of proposed alternatives)