Dana Anne Yee, Landscape Architect, LLC.


Project Name:Waiʻalae Beach Park
Location:Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
Client:City and County of Honolulu

Waiʻalae Beach Park is a prominent park that is located on the South Shores of Oʻahu. This popular park is accessible by car or walking and is a favorite for weddings, wind surfing, kite surfing, picnicking, soccer playing, swimming, fishing, and numerous other park activities.

Oftentimes a project may start off as a simple request, such as to design a handicapped accessible pathway. This was the case with Waiʻalae Beach Park. The Vision Team from the Waiʻalae Kahala district saw the need to spend a portion of their allotted 2 million funding to plan a 10’ wide straight pathway. This appeared to look like two roads and did not seem to me to be in keeping with the feel of an ocean beach park. I felt that it was important that these new pathways should be an integral part of the entire Beach Park that would connect the park activities, while being aesthetically pleasing. I suggested that rather than just designing an uninteresting straight pathway, a master plan should be developed incorporating the entire 4.23 acre park. Working together with the Vision Team, the Neighborhood Board and the City and County of Honolulu design team, Civil Engineers, the City maintenance crew and after many meetings, a master plan was developed. The Master Plan was designed to revitalize the park by improving the circulation, while maintaining the open space and views to the ocean thus providing an interesting park experience.

I find it important to keep Hawaiʻi’s parks beautiful for all the people of Hawaiʻi, and one way is by bringing back the feeling of old Hawaiʻi. I focused on maintaining the existing charm of the park and continuing the tropical look of swaying Coconut Palms, open spaces, ocean views and access to white sandy beaches. I believe that park spaces can be both aesthetically pleasing and functionally useful while complementing this natural environment.

There are two sides of the park that are separated by an existing arched concrete bridge: the Kahala Mandarin (Koko Head) side of Kapakahi Stream, and the Diamond Head (Ewa) side of the Kapakahi Stream.

Diamond Head (Ewa) Side of Kapakahi Stream - Phase 1
Phase 1 consisted of construction of site improvements for an area that was 15,000 square feet on the Diamond Head side of Kapakahi Stream. This 3,600 square foot, 350 linear foot meandering pathway helped to provide an interesting experience for park users while providing a handicapped accessible pathway that connected the existing bridge on the Makai side of the pathway to the Kahala Avenue sidewalk on the Mauka side of the property.

Rather than the standard 4 foot wide sidewalk, with broom finish and grey concrete, the City and County of Honolulu went the extra mile allowing the pathway to be colored concrete with varied widths, special banding of score lines, and expansion joints with a heavy rock salt finish. This pathway not only meandered, but was designed in various widths from 6’ to 10’ wide to accommodate many forms of park activities. New Victorian style benches were added and trash receptacles, bollards and handicapped accessible picnic tables and benches were placed on a paved surface to be part of the pathway.

The pathway meanders through groves of Coconut Palms thus creating a shadow play of the Coconut fronds on the new pathway below. Quality of design was carried out by the personal, hand selection of the Coconut Palms from a Coconut Grove in the country. Groupings of Coconut Palms were planted to maintain and frame the views of the Pacific Ocean from the Kahala Avenue street entrance. The existing site Coconut Palms (averaging 50’ high) are very old. Adding younger groves of Coconut Palms will maintain the open tropical feel of the park while looking towards the future.

Kahala Mandarin (Koko Head) Side of Kapakahi Stream - Phase 2
The second Phase will be repairing of the Kapakahi Stream canal walls and planning of site improvements on the Kahala Mandarin side of the Stream including the parking lot, site amenities and pathways. There will be new Native Kou trees planted to provide shade for the parking lot and for park users as well as the planting of Native and drought tolerant plants for both sustainability and to educate the public. The pathway will connect the parking lot to the park activities and amenities such as the comfort station, the trellis, outside shower and most importantly, access to the beach.

Increasing the park space on the Kahala Mandarin side of the stream is part of the master plan for the park. This will allow for the pathway to flow from Kahala Avenue to the Makai beach park, helping to create a buffer from the parking lot and providing more park space Non-aggressive trees are being planned with root control barriers to protect the paved areas. Working together with Civil Engineers, provided grading and drainage plans to insure positive drainage, thus reducing low spots and ponding in the park Part of the new improvements also include park lighting for safety and up-lighting the canopy of the trees to create a glow on the grass area below. Care was taken to conserve energy by planting xeriscape plants. Repairing of the existing irrigation system will be added to provide low maintenance. An automatic irrigation clock will be added to help to regulate the water flow and reduce water use.

Waiʻalae Beach Park will be aesthetically beautiful and functional and will continue to serve the public well in providing a natural park in a beach setting along the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Revitalizing the park and keeping the charm of old Hawai’i, compliment this special place, Waiʻalae Beach Park.

Waiʻalae Beach Park was recognized by Scenic Hawaii for a Betty Crocker Landscape Award, Certificate of Appreciation in 2005.