Monday, August 8, 2011

Ke'e Beach no longer a secluded paradise

On a recent trip to Kee Beach, I was literally shocked to see the number of people visiting the area. I expect to see large numbers of visitors at Poipu Beach, Kalapaki or even Hanalei. At these locations there are resorts fronting the beach, large parking lots, beachside restaurants and shopping centers. This is not what I expect at the end of the road at Kee Beach. I have had the good fortune in my life to repeatedly visit this area and even get paid to survey the streams here on the Na Pali Coast, but this time was truly different.

The parking situation actually brought my son to tears as we had to pass up the dry cave at Haena Beach Park because there was nowhere to park. At the end of the road, cars swarmed the area parking anywhere, even if they blocked someone in. I waited patiently in a lot down the road and was able to score a spot after about 15 minutes, but if I hadn’t put my foot down, another tourist would have taken it from me.

Arriving at the beach, I could see erosion had really taken its toll. A whole section of the beach was missing, which left a very interesting configuration of tree roots exposed. After driving so far and waiting for parking, I had to use the restroom and was intrigued by the constructed wetland that was in place to take care of the waste as I remember the bathrooms being closed some years back. However, when I went inside the bathroom, it was clear that something wasn’t working. Literally ten pounds of toilet paper was over-flowing from the toilets. It was totally disgusting!

The reason I came to Kee, was that I was looking for a place to take my son snorkeling that would be somewhat protected. We have our regular spots, but Lydgate is having some water quality issues, and I thought that we would go on an adventure. An adventure it was. The snorkeling was poor to mediocre and the reef is definitely feeling the impact from the sheer number of people making physical contact with it. I am sure that all the chemical sunscreen isn’t helping either.

Haena is still a beautiful place, but the delicate environment just can’t handle the sheer number of visitors. Overall, I was disappointed with the trip. Maybe a better description of how I felt was disheartened. I hope that Kee can withstand the environmental pressures placed on it so that our children, my son included, can enjoy this place.

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