East Hawaii News

County, State Close Beach Parks Ahead of High Surf For Southern Shores

July 15, 2022, 4:04 PM HST
* Updated July 15, 5:26 PM
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High surf and rough ocean conditions forecast this weekend have led the county to close beach parks along the Big Island’s south-facing shores.

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“The closures are prompted by reports of a large swell from the South Pacific that is expected to hit shores this evening and strengthen through tomorrow, Saturday, July 16,” said a news release from the county Friday afternoon, July 15.

Waves are expected to be between 15 and 20 feet at their peak and hold through Sunday, July 17. The county will reassess the situation Sunday, but with the swell expected to continue through Sunday and the possibility of debris in the beach parks, there is a chance they will remain closed until Monday.

Here is a list of the parks that will be closed:

  • Puna: Isaac Hale.
  • Kaʻū: Punaluʻu (camping canceled for the weekend) and Whittington/Honuʻapo (camping canceled for the weekend).
  • Kona: Miloliʻi, Hoʻokena (camping canceled for the weekend), Manini Point/Nāpoʻopoʻo, Honaunau Boat Ramp, Kahaluʻu, Magic Sands/Laʻaloa, Pāhoehoe, Honls, Hale Hālāwai and Old Kona Airport Park.

“We’re asking residents, particularly our surfers, boaters and ocean gatherers, to exercise extreme caution along southern shores this weekend,” Mayor Mitch Roth said in the press release. “The swells accompanied by the remnants of (Tropical Storm) Darby may cause unpredictable ocean conditions that could lead to serious harm. We don’t want to lose any of our loved ones and ask that folks don’t go out when in doubt.”

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Visit the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Hazard Map to get live, updated information throughout the weekend.

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The National Weather Service on Friday afternoon issued a high surf warning for all of the state’s south-facing shores. The warning goes into effect at 6 a.m. Saturday and will continue through 6 a.m. Monday, July 18.

The advisory message from the weather service said a historic south swell will produce dangerous waves along south-facing shores this weekend.

“This swell will build all day Saturday and peak at high surf warning levels Saturday night through Sunday night, then slowly decrease through the first half of next week,” the advisory said.

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Surf will build to 10-14 feet during the day Saturday, then increase to 12-16 feet, with occasional sets of up to 20 feet Saturday night through Sunday night. The National Weather Service said to expect water occasionally sweeping across portions of beaches, very strong breaking waves and strong longshore and rip currents. All of this will make entering the water very hazardous.

Large breaking waves and strong currents also might impact harbor entrances and channels, causing challenging boat handling. Boaters should be aware of an increased number of surfers and body boarders using harbor channels to access surfing areas.

The advisory advised the public to always heed lifeguard advice and know their limits.

“When in doubt, do not go out,” the advisory message said.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources also announced the closure of a Big Island beach park because of the impending weather.

The DLNR Division of State Parks will be closing the following beach park Saturday and possibly Sunday based on impact and assessment:

  • Big Island: Hāpuna State Recreation Area, Kua Bay and Kekaha Kai.

“This large south swell is expected to be the largest seen in Hawaiʻi over the last decade,” the DLNR said in a news release. “Waves are forecast to peak in the 15- to 20-foot range on the south shores of each island, building all day Saturday to high surf warning levels Saturday night through Sunday night. Large wave run up and coastal impacts are expected, especially during the late afternoon high tides.”

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