Tensions high as beach boys challenge decision to give concessions to Dive Oahu

Updated: Jun. 11, 2018 at 7:56 PM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been two weeks since Dive Oahu has taken over the Kuhio Beach concessions and tensions continue to rise.

Verbal confrontations between beach boys and Dive Oahu employees, captured on Youtube and Instagram, are becoming more frequent.

Saturday night, someone cut the rope to Dive Oahu's canoe, causing it to drift down Waikiki beach. The canoe was not severely damaged and no one was arrested.

Dive Oahu declined to be interviewed for this story, but some employees said they feel threatened by the confrontations. They say the protests are driving away customers and making it difficult to hire workers.

Meanwhile, longtime watermen like Eddie Rothman who leads the group "Da Hui," have joined the protest, arguing the city's decision to award the concession to Dive Oahu puts the beach boy tradition in jeopardy.

Da Hui is using video of a Japanese tourist struggling in the water to show that Dive Oahu's surf instructors aren't adequately trained.

Another video on Da Hui's Instagram site shows Dive Oahu employees placing the fins on a surfboard facing the wrong direction.

"They're not trained. They have two instructors. And that's another problem because it's busy now. We would usually have eight to ten instructors in the water at all times of the day," said Aaron Rutledge, whose company Star Beachboys formerly held one of the Kuhio Beach concessions.

Star Beachboys and Hawaiian Oceans are challenging the city's contracts and hope a judge will force the city to redo the bids.

"The city got to realize that the experiment is over," said Aaron Rutledge, owner of Star-Beachboys. "They gotta put a plug on this."

The city could not be reached for comment.

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