Giant waves on Maui today damaged facilities at two north shore public beach parks and injured one tow-in surfer, county officials said in a news release. Baldwin Beach Park and Ho'okipa Beach Park were both closed at 2:30 p.m. and will remain closed until the areas are declared safe by ocean safety personnel. At Baldwin Beach Park, wave faces were reported to be 60 feet to 70 feet on the outside reef and a tow-in surfer sustained severe cuts and a possible compound fracture to his leg, officials said. Two lifeguard vehicles — a wave ski and an ATV — were picked up by the shorebreak and thrown against a picnic pavilion door at Baldwin Park. The door was broken, and sand washed into the open-air pavilion. The waves caused substantial damage to the shoreline with sand piling up in the men's restroom and debris littering the park, according to officials.
"It's rubber boots country in the back parking lot," said Leland Parker, maintenance supervisor for the Coastal Section, East Parks District. "The waves are washing into the parking area and the water just gets backed up, with nowhere to go." At Ho'okipa Beach Park, wave faces were at 30 feet to 50 feet, according to Archie Kalepa, ocean safety operations supervisor. Waves washed up the steep stone wall into the pavilions, carrying sand and debris. "When it's this big, it's actually a lot easier to convince people to stay out of the water," Kalepa said. "It's the people onshore who have to be extremely careful — no one should ever turn their back to the ocean, even when they think they're standing in a safe zone." Kalepa also reported that two surfers were rescued at Honolua Bay on Maui's northwest side. Surf was estimated to be breaking in the 30-foot range.)