HANALEI — Using enough water is the secret to building the perfect sand sculpture.
“It takes a massive amount of water, and people have to bring buckets of it from the ocean,” said Julian Miller, founder of the Hawaii Sand Festival.
Miller’s advice is to build the sculptures closer to the sand, to save time and trips back and forth to the ocean, carrying heavy buckets.
On Aug. 13, people of all ages and skills can try their hand at the craft during the seventh annual Sand Festival.
Miller said he was inspired to start the festival when he noticed people weren’t building sandcastles on the beaches.
“I would walk on the beach, and notice no was was building sandcastles here,” he said. “I thought it was amazing that there was no sandcastle festival, like they do on the Mainland.”
So, after talking to a friend, Miller decided to take matters into his own hands and host a contest at Hanalei Bay.
After calling an office in Oahu about getting a permit to hold the contest, Miller was told the state prohibits sandcastle contests because there was a problem with people asking for money.
“We weren’t doing it for the money. We were doing it to give people experience with art and to be outside with their family,” he said.
A week or so later, Miller got a call back, saying he could apply for a permit, as long as he didn’t accept money.
“We had no plans to,” Miller said.
Miller enlisted the help of Jeff Peterson, who he met while building a sandcastle in Hanalei and the first festival took place in 2009.
“The night before, I was really nervous because I didn’t know if anyone was going to come,” he said. “Who wants to move sand around all day in the sun? But I decided not to worry, and if no one shows up, I’ll just make a sandcastle by myself.”
But Miller never got around to making a sandcastle because about 200 people showed up.
Since then, the festival has grown to about 300 people. It’s gotten so popular that there is not enough parking for all of the participants. This year, Miller asks people to carpool as much as possible.
“It’ll be wonderful, both for carbon and traffic,” he said.
Miller said he is “blown away” every year by the sculptures people build.
“We’ve had an octopus, submarine and a dining table that was dug down into the sand, complete with knives and forks,” he said.
He said he chose Hanalei because the sand is perfect.
“We have the best sand because we are the island with rivers. Those rivers bring down silt, which mixed with the sand, allows it to stand up to build,” he said. “The best place for it is Hanalei. At the Sheraton or Hyatt, the structure will blow away or fall over, and you can’t get it over a foot. I’ve seen 6 to 8-foot structures in Hanalei.”
The festival is scheduled between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Aug. 13.
More info: hawaiisandcastle.com