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?


  1. Wow. What impact is this having on the local companies? I took a 4 hour kayak tour to the Mokolua Islands last fall and had a wonderful time. We parked in the company’s lot (not taking up any of the beach or road parking), walked our kayaks over to the canal, paddled down to the beach and launched. Out of the 4 hours, we were actually on the Kailua beach for maybe 15 or 20 minutes. And we headed straight out to the islands, and didn’t loiter in front of the beach. Perhaps since my tour was a one time event for me, I don’t really understand the volume of kayakers launching off the beach and their impact, but I am having trouble understanding a total ban. Can locals chip in and enlighten me? ‘Cause as a tourist, this was a real trip high point and I’d love to do it again, either in Kailua or in other HI locations.

  2. I’m with you on this one. I think the ban went too far. I’m on Kailua beach constantly and see how crowded it can get. I was very bothered by the tour buses that dumped people, but for the rest I was fine, Everyone wants to kayak, and when they do they leave the beach for hours! So it’s not such a big impact. Then they go into town and spend money needed by local businesses. Sometimes the windsurfers would get to be too much. But alot of that activity is late afternoon when most people are leaving. And the crowds on the weekend… Well judging by the 50 people at every bus stop in Kailua at 5pm trying to get out of town, these visitors have made a big effort to get over here and enjoy our beach so they aren’t going to be effected by any bans .. Thy will still come

  3. UHHH…. dum dum dum.

    kitesurfing and windsurfing – is ICONIC to kailua beach. take away lessons, cuz what? people are pissy that tour busses come and go? uggg.

    move the busses, dont punish the people who are drawn to the hawaiian islands for the very reasons which makes them great!

    near sighted legislation needs either to be refined, or overturned.

    local business suffers as a result of this ban. the well healed (im being POLITE here) are the only ones un-affected.

  4. I’m trying to find out how far the Kailua ban reaches, whether that includes all beach weddings from Lanikai all the way to the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps base?

  5. @Robert: I don’t think the ban includes Kaneohe Marine Corp Base, as it’s military property. But I believe it includes Lanikai as well.

  6. I am a tourist that visits Kailua every year for two weeks of kiting. I spend a lot of money to stay there, eat, buy goods, petrol, accom etc.

    I agree that commercializing has to be controlled and have seen this work well across other countries at beaches and lakes. Tender just one operator and license them to specific guidelines then both the tourists and locals win.

    Personally I feel the kayaks and to a lesser extent kite lesson operators have been instrumental to tourist attraction. Lots of Japanese tourists use the kayak option, where will they go now? Perhaps other towns with other activities. The locals lose.

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