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9 Coastal Wonders To See Now

Authors Heather Hansen and Kimberly Lisagor have traveled the world investigating coastal sites that are as stunning as they are endangered. Here, they share advice for planning an eco-sensitive trip―and how you can help.

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Oahu, Hawaii
Photo: Ron Dahlquist

Oahu, Hawaii

Why go? Perfect weather, daydream-come-true beaches, and a vibrant culture make the Hawaiian Islands an exotic vacation destination, no passport required.

Why care? Erosion is a common problem on developed coasts worldwide, but it is particularly acute on Oahu, where scientists estimate that sea walls have destroyed or significantly reduced 25 percent of the island’s beaches over the past century. But there’s hope, says Dolan Eversole, a coastal geologist at the University of Hawaii Sea Grant. Local governments have increased the minimum distance allowed between new buildings and the shoreline, and there is a trend toward public land acquisition.

Plan your trip: You’ll find the mildest weather and lowest rates in the spring and fall off-seasons. The Hawaii Ecotourism Association (www.hawaiiecotourism.org) is an excellent place to start your search for environmentally responsible accommodations and outfitters.

How to help: Surfrider Foundation maintains a beach health Web site (surfrider.org/stateofthebeach) with comprehensive background on Hawaiian beach erosion.

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