Ewa Beach Shoreline Playgrounds

Sep 3, 2012 by John R. K. Clark

Our beaches and surf spots are Hawaii’s playgrounds. They are places where we play and recreate, with our swimming, surfing, canoe paddling, kayaking, paddle boarding, body boarding and body surfing. Where we sail, wind surf, scuba dive, snorkel and water ski. Our shorelines are where we gather our food, whether it’s salt, seaweed, sea cucumbers, shellfish, and sea urchins. Where we fish, whether we use poles, spears, and nets.

The Ewa Beach shoreline embodies the best features of Hawaii’s shoreline playgrounds. It stretches from Keahi Point at the entrance channel to Pearl Harbor to the east end of White Plains Beach in Kalaeloa. Within this roughly 4.5-mile stretch, there are many places to gather, fish and play. While the coastline is open to all, beach parks are popular magnets for nearby and islandwide residents.

Oneula Beach Park encompasses 30 acres at the west end of Ewa Beach. Oneula means “red sand,” and probably refers to the red dirt that flowed from a nearby large drainage ditch extending from the mountains. For many years, this park featured a comfort station, ball parks and parking areas. However, its conditions have deteriorated over the years.

Fortunately, the community has been helping to revitalize the area, and the park is now cleaner and safer for the general public. Overgrown vegetation has been cleared, and various community groups help to maintain the area on a regular basis.

The City is working with the community to carry out the long-term plan for Oneula Beach Park. When the upcoming improvements are made, and the additional shoreline is given to the City, Oneula will certainly be a recreational destination for the Ewa region.

Further west is the site of the former Ewa Plantation Beach, which was also known as Hau Bush Beach. This area was maintained by the Ewa Recreational Association and the Ewa Sugar Company. Its facilities were primarily for plantation employees and their guests and were not available to the general public. The Estate of James Campbell sold this area as part of a larger land transaction, and Haseko is the third and current owner.

Haseko is currently preparing nine shoreline acres, which includes Ewa Plantation Beach, that will be given to the City and County of Honolulu. This will expand Oneula Beach Park to an approximately 39-acre beach park, a welcome resource for any Oahu community.

The easternmost beach park in Ewa Beach is Iroquois Beach. This area was once known as Keahi Beach, named after Keahi Point at the west edge of the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Keahi Point was once one of the best places on Oahu to catch oio, or ladyfish, and was also well known for its surfing waves.

Iroquois Point derived its name from the USS Iroquois, a navy tugboat that was stranded near the entrance of Pearl Harbor in the late 1890s. Until 2003, the area was used primarily as military housing and the general public was not allowed to visit Iroquois Beach, which is narrow and well protected by a shallow reef. Today, the community is managed by a private joint venture under a Navy lease. Improvements to housing and recreational facilities are underway. In 2008, Iroquois Beach was opened to the public. Visitors are issued one-day passes for water activities such as fishing, kayaking and surfing.

Near the entrance to the Puuloa Rifle Range at Iroquois Point is the Ewa Beach Park, a popular five-acre City park. The original name for this part of the shoreline is Kupaka. The area continues to attract seaweed or limu gatherers. In addition to basic park facilities, such as restrooms, showers, and picnic tables, Ewa Beach Park also has a pavilion, baseball diamond, basketball court and playground. Outrigger canoe halau launch their canoes here for practice.

I encourage you to visit Ewa Beach’s shoreline playgrounds, and stay tuned for exciting expansions and improvements in the months to come.