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In a stunning and contentious recent development, the two concessions that carry the legacy and heritage of the Beach Boys have been forced by the City & County of Honolulu to shutter their operations. After decades, Star Beachboys and Hawaiian Oceans are, for now, no more. The City has awarded the two concession permits to Dive Oahu in a process that comes up every five years.
The announcement sparked outrage not only among the many men and women who have been a part of the Beach Boys through the years. Native Hawaiians, Hawaii residents, and people in the ocean sports community around the world viewed it as an assault on the Aloha Spirit itself.
Surf lessons and canoe rides have always been the professional function of the Beach Boys. Those activities will continue with the Dive Oahu operation. The concern among the Beach Boys and their supporters is that uniformed concierges with nametags and iPads abandons the warmth and genuine hospitality the Beach Boys represent and have helped sell to the world for generations.
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The Beach Boys lifestyle has always been about much more than hanging out on the beach. It’s a lifestyle that is committed to sharing aloha and a profound respect and understanding of Hawaii’s ocean resources. The Beach Boys are the essence of the real and romantic notions of the Aloha Spirit and living in the most unique paradise on earth.
Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s original Ambassador of Aloha, made Waikiki Beach famous as part of the Beach Boys. Over the years, the now-cheesy trope of those “Rock-A-Hula” days of the past has been replaced with a commitment to ocean science, safety, and stewardship. The Beach Boys are a vital part of keeping the teeming waters of Waikiki Beach safe for visitors, supplementing the good work of the City & County Lifeguards.
Hundreds gathered under the statue of “The Duke” last week in support of the Waikiki Beach Boys as they packed up their equipment. Labor concerns involving the rehiring of the Beach Boys displaced are sticky. Dive Oahu says “new” employees stand to fare better in pay and benefits. The Beach Boys prefer their status as independent contractors. The changes Dive Oahu will make are required by the permits, the company says.
There is hope that the Beach Boys tradition can survive. A hearing is scheduled for July to review the bidding and permitting process that saw Star Beachboys and Hawaiian Oceans lose their beach concessions. What result comes from that hearing will determine if the rich tradition of the Waikiki Beach Boys, as it has always been known, will continue.