Forget about that kayak tour to Kailua’s Mokulua Islands or the guided bus ride from town to these sandy windward beaches; a ban on commercial activity at Kailua and Kalama beach parks has taken immediate effect yesterday after Honolulu’s city council overrode the mayor’s veto of Bill 11.
Kayak tours, like this one shown paddling to Flat Island, are now banned from Kailua Beach.
The bill initially targeted kayakers and bus tours but includes instructional kite boarding and windsurfing as well. To my surprise, I couldn’t find any alternative places on Oahu to learn kiteboarding and windsurfing. I wanted to provide that information to our readers. Many websites point to Kailua Beach for lessons. Also to my dismay, there are no kayak tours near the Waikiki area; visitors must drive to the North Shore or to Kaneohe, also on the windward side, which can be a challenge if they don’t have a rental car.
Many locals complained about the increased traffic in and around Kailua Beach over the years, which prompted the creation of Bill 11. As a local myself, I had been a bit torn on the subject. A recent trip to Kailua town last weekend left me heated with frustration. I had trouble finding parking and noticed that I wasn’t the only one; some so desperate for a space, they resorted to parking illegally. The beach itself was like a second Waikiki. Crowds of beach-goers flooded the sand and sea, leaving little room for privacy. What happened to the quaint Kailua Beach we all knew and loved?
As I discovered while writing this article, the answer to that is not in Bill 11. Banning commercial activities won’t lessen traffic or crowds. Tourists flock to Kailua because they’re told about its clear blue waters and super-soft sand; its ideal snorkeling and kid-friendly conditions. This is the reality of it, and I’m fine with that. Nothing will stop tourists from coming here; you can’t really blame them. It’s much too beautiful a place to pass up. I also sympathize with the tourist who will now have difficulties finding lessons in kite boarding or kitesurfing. Writing this story on Bill 11 made me realize how important Kailua’s commercial ventures have been for our tourism economy; they have capitalized on such markets for years. Now where will the tourists go for lessons?