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The Latest on Kahana Bay Erosion

If you own or are looking to buy oceanfront property in West Maui, you have likely heard of shoreline issues, including Kahana Bay erosion.

This subject is nothing new and has been a topic of discussion for years now. Because I currently have a condo listing located on Kahana Bay, I have done quite a bit of research to find the latest on the subject. In years past, I have also lived in two of the oceanfront condo complexes on Kahana Bay. Therefore, I would like to share what I know and provide a brief summary about the possible remedies.

View of Kahana Bay erosion

Kahana Bay erosion as evidenced by the piles of sandbags.

The Problem:

Kahana Bay has seen significant beach erosion over the years, with experts placing it around one foot per year. The area of concern is a 3,600 ft length of shoreline from Kahana Stream in the north to Pohaku Park (S-Turns) in the south. Moreover, there is approximately 1,200 ft of permitted temporary structures such as seawalls, revetments, and sandbags trying to protect different oceanfront condominium complexes.

A mix of sandbags, vegetation management, and a seawall.

The Participants:

A group of nine complexes, along with one residential parcel, have come together to form the Kahana Bay Steering Committee. The participants include (from north to south): Kahana Village, Kahana Outrigger, Kahana Reef, Pohailani, Hololani, Royal Kahana, Valley Isle Resort, Sands of Kahana, and the Kahana Beach Resort. The Committee hired an engineering firm called Oceanit to act as a consultant to come up with the most feasible solutions to the problem.

The Solution:

In order to replenish Kahana Beach, they have proposed to transport sand from nearby offshore sand deposits. These were identified in a 2016 Feasibility Study conducted by Maui County. This additional sand would be held in place by installing seven T-shaped groins that extend 215 ft offshore with 200 ft-wide breakwater sections. And the headland at the north part of Kahana Bay (in front of Kahana Village) would be reinforced with boulders. The goal is to have a beach that ranges between 50 and 80 ft wide. To clarify, this would bring it back to the historically documented width from 1975.

T-shaped groins were used at Iroquois Point on Oahu.

T-shaped groins were used at Iroquois Point on Oahu.

The Status:

Oceanit compiled all of this information and submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to the state back in April. It has since been out for community review. All comments during this review period were directed to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. As of July, the Maui County Planning Department published all review comments and no further action was stated.

Seawall in front of Hololani shows the Kahana Bay erosion.

A temporary new seawall was permitted in front of Hololani with the stipulation that it be removed if this project is completed.

The Cost:

A good amount of federal, state, and county permits and approvals will be needed. In other words, there is no definite information on the total cost of the project, with estimates ranging from $26 to $50 million. Most importantly, who will pay for the project isn’t finalized either. Private, county, and federal funding are all possibilities that the Committee is exploring. In the case of private funding, a special assessment may be imposed per unit at all the complexes involved in the project. In the case of county and federal funding, the Committee will look to apply for County of Maui Community Facilities District Funding and Federal Emergency Management Agency Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program money (try saying that twice over!).

The Timing:

Until approvals and permits are completed, the timeline of the project is up in the air. Once started, there are estimates that it could take six to nine months. Alternatively, it could take up to two years if they have to split up the work to accommodate environmental factors.

View from Valley Isle Resort on Kahana Bay.

View from Valley Isle Resort on Kahana Bay.

In conclusion, if this project is completed, Kahana Beach will be one of the largest beaches north of Kaanapali. As a result, it will most likely have a positive effect on surrounding property values. Please contact me if you have questions or are interested in properties for sale in the area. You can see beautiful views of Kahana Bay from my listing at Valley Isle Resort here.

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September 21, 2021

I like your article.
One option can be to skip the T shaped Groins, to lower the initial cost as well as maintenance over time.
It will be nice to have a great beach in Kahana Bay, not only for the 10 properties, but also for the local people.
It will be a great Boom for Maui, as well as Hawaii as a whole, since visitors are often island hoppers.
Wishing the project all success,
Love Hawaii


September 23, 2021

Great blog Natalie!

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