Famous Lanikai Beach is Getting a Bad Rap
Is there a solution to fix the perpetual congestion?
Photos: Rachel Ross
After a hike to the pillboxes on a Sunday afternoon, we couldn’t help but want to jump in the gorgeous waters we’d just looked down upon. At the beach, we looked for a place to drop our towels, shoes and other belongings. And then we looked some more. It wasn’t a holiday weekend, but it was coast-to-naupaka bodies and beach towels, and it made our last visit to Waikīkī Beach seem positively secluded by comparison.
Lately, Lanikai has been getting some bad press, with stories of children with broken bones sitting in their car for 45 minutes to get out of the neighborhood on a holiday weekend, and photos of crowded beaches making the rounds. Some realtors we spoke with, who did not want to be quoted, noted that buyers who can afford to live in Lanikai are choosing Beachside, Kaimalino or other Windward beach neighborhoods instead due to time and traffic concerns. But so far, sales in the neighborhood remain steady. In 2014, 21 homes sold in Lanikai. In 2015, when bad press was at its peak, there were 18 sales, about 15 percent fewer. This year to date, 18 have already sold or will close shortly, with four months still to go in the year.
The Lanikai Association, known as one of the best-organized and active community associations around, has been quick to search for ways to fix the perpetual congestion. Notes from the last annual meeting show that members concur there have been noticeable improvements due to new signs, parking barriers on holiday weekends and enforcement of parking restrictions.
What’s the real solution? There are plans for a roundabout underway for the intersection at Kalapawai Market, and Lanikai residents are hoping that will ease traffic that often backs up all the way into Lanikai. Another idea would be to work with the City & County to gate the community and monitor (and, in some cases, limit) public access (much like Ko Olina does to allow public beach access until at capacity). It would not be a popular idea with local residents, but those who truly love the beach would make time to get there in time to get parking, and it’d likely be tourists that took the bulk of the hit. It’d also stop any commercial activity, which shouldn’t be happening, but does anyway. And it would surely help maintain the desirability of the community as one of the best places on O‘ahu to live.