Land board approves amended commercial surfing instruction rules for Kahalu‘u Bay

Following more than a year of outreach and two public hearings, the Board of Land and Natural Resources today approved amended rules for commercial surfing instruction at Kahalu‘u Bay in Kailua-Kona.

Under the new rules, which will require the governor’s signature before taking effect, permitted commercial operators in Zone A of the bay are limited to four at any one time and no more than four students, regardless of the number of a company’s instructors in the water.


Zone A is the only part of Kahalu‘u Bay where commercial surf instruction is allowed.

“The Kahalu‘u Bay rules were amended in 2016 to permit the County of Hawaii to select a nonprofit organization to solicit bids from entities to receive permits,” Meghan Statts, assistant administrator of the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, said in a press release. “However, the nonprofit retained by the county failed to make any selections, and we agreed with the county that DOBOR would take the lead in selecting permittees.”

Testimony at an Oct. 14 public hearing focused on opposition to commercial operation shifts. DOBOR recommended that the BLNR remove a proposal to create eight permits with shifts and instead maintain existing rule language which implements four surf instruction permits without shifts.

Testifiers also provided comments about surf school conduct, such as natural resource violations like damage to coral and injuring sea life. They also noted parking issues, user conflicts, overcrowding and lack of enforcement of rules for Kahalu‘u Bay.

The BLNR unanimously approved the revised proposed amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules. “We believe these new rules will help mitigate many of the issues associated with this very popular surf school location,” Statts said.

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