Turf war brewing in Waikiki as beach boys spar over contract obligations

Published: May. 15, 2019 at 11:58 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A year after it awarded lucrative Waikiki beach boy concessions to Dive Oahu, the city said its revenues have nearly doubled.

“I know we made the right decision when you look at the revenue to the city. We’re doing much better than we did before," said Guy Kaulukukui, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services.

Dive Oahu has paid the city about $1.3 million since it was awarded the contract last May.

Between May 2017 and May 2018, previous operators Star-Beachboys and Hawaiian Oceans paid a combined $662,000, the city said.

Dive Oahu said its figures would have been higher because it only operated for several days in May 2018 and its results for May 2019 are not yet available.

"The numbers don’t lie,” said Shelly Rofrits, Dive Oahu’s manager.

The city’s decision to award the concession to Dive Oahu last year generated protests from hundreds of watermen across the state. They didn’t want to see longtime beachboys displaced from Waikiki, where they have given surf lessons and canoe rides to tourists for decades.

But Star-Beachboy’s President Aaron Rutledge said Dive Oahu is serving fewer visitors since it rarely provides canoe rides. He added that the company had closed one of its stands on certain days.

“They don’t (have) enough beachboys walking around the beach hustling, providing services from sun up to sun down," he said.

Dive Oahu blames competing surf instructors -- including former Star-Beachboy workers -- who set up illegally on the beach.

“That’s money that supposed to go to the taxpayer, that’s supposed to go to the City and County that’s being stolen," said Rofrits.

Rutledge his company is offering competing services -- but legally-- at its Waikiki store a block away.

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