Share this article

“Going to Destroy the Actual Beach”: Birthplace of Surfing Rocked by Bold Proposal as Local Community Remains Divided

Published 05/29/2023, 2:20 PM EDT

Follow Us

The history of surfing is deeply rooted in traditions. While for many, it is the go-to summer shenanigans, for Hawaiians, it symbolizes their heritage, traditions, and connection to the ocean. Flourishing in the archipelago, the sport was once reserved for Hawaiian royalty, and known as the sport of kings. And now, for some, the sanctity of the sport feels threatened.

America’s Favorite Video Today

Surfer Brian Keaulana’s bold proposal to create a wave pool near the beach has stirred up considerable discussion and controversy in Hawaii, especially among Native Hawaiians. It has sparked debates about the compatibility of a modern-day sport embraced globally, with the rich cultural heritage of the islanders. The contentious nature of the project has resulted in a legal battle.

Surfing visionary Brian Keaulana envisions cutting-edge wave park


Article continues below this ad

Growing up in Makaha, Brian Keaulana honed his surfing, diving, and water safety skills under the guidance of his father, Buffalo Keaulana, a renowned waterman. Brian gained recognition for riding massive waves, competing in Big Wave contests, and later becoming the Lifeguard Captain for West Side of Oahu. He also made appearances in Baywatch: Hawaii and worked as a stunt coordinator in numerous films.

Inspired by Kelly Slater’s wave pool, Brian aims to create a similar haven for competitive surfers seeking consistent and flawless waves.“You see these surfers going to these surf parks and catching wave after wave and they are honing their skills and then they go into the ocean when there’s a swell,” said the surfing master.


Get instantly notified of the hottest stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

via Imago

With the aid of state-of-the-art technology, surfer Brian Keaulana envisions a groundbreaking facility that would redefine the surfing landscape.  According to ABC 6 News this ambitious project aims to create an artificial wave park where competitive surfers can maintain their edge, and safety skills can be honed in a controlled environment.“The ocean is the greatest treasure that we have. But it can be flat. It can be big. It can be dirty. It can have, you know, sharks here and there,” said the 62-year-old lifeguard. The cutting-edge electromechanical system would generate up to 1,000 waves per hour, replicating ocean swells as high as 8 feet with a simple tap on a tablet.

Beyond the surf lagoon, the 19-acre site would offer a range of exhilarating activities, from rock climbing to beach volleyball and skateboarding. Keaulana’s motivation stems from his concern for Hawaii’s Olympic surfing hopefuls, who lack access to dedicated surf parks. This puts them at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts who can readily train in such facilities worldwide. However, the path is riddled with obstacles, as Keaulana faces a legal battle with the native community over his proposal.


Article continues below this ad

A legal battle ensues over the proposed wave pool, stirring cultural concerns

In the legal arena, the project finds itself entangled, unveiling the unease among certain Native Hawaiians. The nearby residents filed a lawsuit in state environmental court, claiming that the proposed 7 million-gallon artificial pool would harm the seaweed and ancient remains in the area. Healani Sonoda-Pale, a plaintiff in the case, expressed worry and said .“They’re profiting off a cultural practice by controlling it by making these wave pools, which are going to destroy the actual beach that is nearby.”

Critics argue that with a recently opened wave pool nearby, building another one is unnecessary and wasteful. However, Brian consulted Hawaiian cultural advisors and conducted studies to protect the site, to make sure his project is successful. The case is pending, and a hearing is scheduled for July with an uncertain ruling date.


Article continues below this ad

Watch This Story: “I’m a Professional Waiter”: Surfing Legend Laird Hamilton Shares a Cryptic Message to His Followers 


Providing feedback will help us make your experience better.

The Fan's Perspective

Enjoyed Your Read? Let us know how likely you are to recommend EssentiallySports to your friends!

Least Likely

Most Likely



Written by:

Gincy Abraham


One take at a time

Gincy Abraham, an accomplished sports news writer at EssentiallySports, has a profound passion for surfing and a talent for covering the latest developments in sports. With expertise in Olympic news, Gincy captures the essence of the global sporting event. With a bachelor's degree in journalism and years of experience as a news reporter, Gincy is always in pursuit to deliver accurate content religiously.
Show More>

Edited by:

Anupama Ghosh