Monday, July 25, 2011

Kee Beach is no longer a secluded paradise

On a recent trip to Kee Beach, I was literally shocked to see the number of people visiting this 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. But here, I was stunned by what I saw. I have had the good fortune in my life to get paid to survey the streams on the Na Pali Coast and have been here numerous times, 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 and ten pounds of toilet paper over flowed 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, not to be missed, but it just can’t handle the sheer number of visitors. Overall, I was disappointed with the trip.

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