State Land Board Approves New Rules for Kahalu’u Bay Surf School

October 24, 2021, 8:49 a.m. HST

Kahalu’u Bay surf schools. (10.21.21) PC: DLNR.

The State Land and Natural Resources Council voted on Friday to implement amended rules limiting and regulating commercial activity in ocean waters in Kahalu’u Bay on the Kona Coast on the island of Hawaii ‘i. The decision comes following an earlier public hearing and oral and written testimony submitted by dozens of people.

In revising the rules, DOBOR indicated that its main concerns were the safety of ocean users and the protection of natural resources. Thus, its recommendations focused on the commercial use capacity of the bay. The rules cover not only surfboards, but all non-motorized watercraft in Zone A of Kahalu’u Bay.

The Land Board approved the amended rules that allow DOBOR to issue eight two-shift commercial surfing licenses; four morning shift permits and four afternoon shift permits.

The rules (Hawai’i Business Rules) for the popular snorkeling and surfing spot were last changed in 2016.

In a virtual public assessment hearing on September 8, 2021, 20 people testified verbally and 48 others by mail or email. DOBOR’s submission to the land commission characterized the witnesses as being opposed into two distinct groups: (1) those who oppose any commercial activity in Kahalu’u Bay; and (2) those who oppose changes in business operations (largely business operators). DOBOR said it does not support an outright ban on commercial activity in the bay.

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Some witnesses recommended banning business operations on weekends or Sundays. Since this was not taken into account in the original proposal, DOBOR will consider weekend / Sunday bans in future rule amendments.


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