Rumors of a new wave pool to be constructed on Oahu’s west side have been circulating for months. It turns out those rumors are grounded in reality, as just this week the Hawaii Community Development Authority announced they’re allowing big-wave surfer/Hawaiian legend Brian Keaulana (a partner in HK Management) to look into developing 19-acres of vacant state land in Kalaeloa, on Oahu’s west side. If the project gets the go-ahead, it will include a 5-acre wave pool, as well as a “lazy river, skate park, buildings and more.” And the proposed name? Honokea Surf Village.
While reporting this story, KITV Island News referenced sketches depicting Wavegarden technology (a map of Wavegarden’s locations on their site also shows a new park coming soon to Hawaii). Wavegarden or any other wave pool company’s involvement in the potential project hasn’t been announced explicitly, however.
Wave pools are already a polarizing subject. But, since they’ve (so far) shown to work as a business model in mostly landlocked places (see: Lemoore, California and Waco, Texas), it’s still to be determined how wave pools can compete with the actual ocean in surf-rich zones. Especially on Oahu, which enjoys not only year-round surf, but some of the best waves in the world during winter.
Many, like Oahu’s Beau Flemister, a former SURFING Magazine editor and current published author, are skeptical. “I think a wave pool in Hawaii, with the accessibility to such good waves and such a good variety of waves already, is unnecessary,” Flemister says. “Matt Warshaw has written extensively about why he’s kind of against wave pools, and it’s because they remove the surf and beach culture: knowing the tides, the winds, swell directions, ocean etiquette, even animals in the ocean, and that’s what makes surfing and surfers. And that’s especially true in a place like Hawaii, where there are already so many places to surf, and so much to learn about surfing.”
That said, Flemister does understand that the actual wave pool is only one piece of a much larger plan, and it’s a project that aims to inject jobs and stability to an area that could use it. And with Keaulana involved, Flemister trusts the development will be a positive overall addition to the area. “People could definitely use jobs over there, and so that’s a big plus, that they can hire local people,” says Flemister. “At this point, I’m mostly interested to see how it all comes together. But ultimately, the big unknown is: will people see the draw to a wave pool on an island with such amazing waves?”
Stay tuned. We’ll report on new information as it becomes available.
This article originally appeared on Surfer.com and was republished with permission.