Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, Diamond Head  Waikiki is the name of the area on Oahu where most of the hotels are located.  Its the main tourist area and is filled with hotels, condos, apartments, and tons of shopping places.

The beach is composed of white sand with a nice shallow swimming area and gentle waves even at high tide.  Yes it is crowed and very very developed but it didn't always look this way.

Originally the area served as a retreat for the royal family where the families had their own residences and had fun. The beach was actually a thin strip of sand located between wetlands, mudflats, duck ponds, fish ponds, and a gentle slope under the ocean.

Moana Surfrider Hotel.
Beginning in 1830, Waikiki became a destination for foreign visitors. In 1860 a road was built followed by a tramway in 1880 or so.  The first hotel, The Moana Surfrider  was built in 1901 as a place for wealthy European visitors.  This hotel had 75 rooms, offered many luxuries such as a pool room, telephones, library, etc In addition, it had the first electrical elevators in the territory.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel from the beach
Beginning in 1907, the Waikiki Reclamation Commission went in and widened roads, built bridges, and drained the duck ponds, rice paddies and taro paddies in preparation for increased tourism. In early 1920, the wetlands were declared a health hazard and the government built the Ala Wai canal to drain the wet areas.  When it was completed in 1928 the area was subdivided into 5000 square foot lots sold to the public changing rural Waikiki into a suburb.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel Front
As a way of creating new recreational activities, they built a massive Olympic sized pool (the Natatorium) and the Honolulu zoo in 1927.  The pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel with its Moorish style was also built that year adding another resort hotel to the Moana Surfrider.  Tourism continued to grow until 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Waikiki became the destination for soldiers who were on R & R.  In fact the Moana hotel transformed itself offering respite for soldier heading off to the unknown.  Once the war was over, tourism once more took off with the advent of regular air service to the islands.

What most histories of Waikiki do not tell you is that the sand found on the beach is not native to Hawaii.  In the 1920's and 30's it is said they barged sand in from Manhattan Beach California but they quit importing sand in the 1970's.  Now they bring the sand in from 2000 feet off shore because one foot a year is eroding from the beach and it has to be replenished some way.

Today, many of the older places are being replaced with more hotels, restaurants, and other name brand stores for tourism.  Its slowly loosing its charm as quaint gives way to modern. 

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