High Surf Closes West Hawaii BeachesDecember 20, 2013, 9:19 AM HST (Updated December 20, 2013, 11:54 PM)
A large northwest swell this morning prompted Hawaii County Civil Defense to close West Hawaii beaches from Kohala to Kona.
The National Weather Service issued a high surf warning for all north- and west-facing shores to remain in effect until 6 a.m. Saturday.
It said this swell has more of a westerly component than normal, so west-facing shores of the Big Island were seeing “much larger than normal” surf.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira this morning said surf with 8- to 10-foot faces was occurring at most of the beaches.
County lifeguards later reported that waves up to 15 feet in height were washing all the way up to the vegetation line at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area.
A Department of Land and Natural Resources spokeswoman said that water was also reaching the parking lot at the recreation area’s Waialea section, also known as Beach 69, which was also closed.
Oliveira said crews were sent to nearby Puako to check for damage there. None was found.
This morning’s high tide in Kona occurred at 5:30 a.m. and was a big one, at 2.16 feet. The next high tide, to measure 0.84 feet, would occur at 5:52 p.m.
Oliveira said one wave also reached Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona, in the area of the Lava Java restaurant, but no damage was reported.
He said the surf was expected to maintain its size throughout the day.
The biggest surf was expected on Kauai and Niihau, where waves of up to 30 feet are possible.
Big Island beaches affected by the closure included Kauanoa and Hapuna in South Kohala, and the Kona beaches of Kohanaiki or Pine Trees, Laaloa or Magic Sands, and Kahaluu.
Also closed were the public beach areas at the Kukio and Four Seasons resorts.
The Maniniowali or Kua Bay area of Kekaha Kai State Park was closed, but the Mahaiula portion of the park remained open because it was less exposed to the surf, the DLNR said.
Lapakahi State Historical Park was also closed because waves were breaking over the coastal trail area.
The public was being advised to stay well away from the shoreline in affected areas.
***Updated at 4:46 p.m.***