It’s Time To Show Waikiki A Little Aloha - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Bonnie Kahapea-Tanner

Bonnie Kahapea-Tanner was born and raised in Kaneohe. She is the mother of two daughters, Kaialea and Lehia, and is married to Halona Tanner.

During these COVID-19 times my family has rediscovered the beauty of Waikiki. Being from Windward Oahu, our visits to Waikiki are few and far between. We usually think of Waikiki as being a place that is too crowded and a pain to find parking!

Back in May, on a whim, we decided to go surfing for Mother’s Day. Not having surfed in over 20 years, being middle-aged and the mother of two teenage girls, we thought it would be the best time to go since there were no tourists!

Four months later, we are still surfing two to three days a week. We have fallen in love with the beautiful waters of Waikiki, the gentle world-class surf, and the camaraderie with fellow surfers, many whom are local. We have rediscovered and reclaimed our right to Waikiki.

Now, with the impending reopening of transpacific travel, I feel a sense of despair and gloom lurking. How do we persevere and continue surfing in a place we love when we know it may soon again be overused, disrespected, and trampled? What are we teaching our children if we sheepishly retreat back to the safety of the Windward Side?

Bonnie Kahapea-Tanner (center) and her daughters at the Duke Kahanamoku statute in Waikiki. With the reopening of tourism set to begin next week, she is concerned about what will happen next in Waikiki. Submitted

COVID-19 has exposed many things. Mostly to me it has exposed the truth that our government isn’t equipped to make decisions based on the health and well-being of its people — the natives, the locals, the taxpayers. Police are being sent out to give citations instead of educating and encouraging compliance.

Parking Problems

The parking in Waikiki is still challenging, but we have found our spots. With heavy longboards, we have a system of dropping off. When the banyan tree loading zone was open, it was easy, pull in unload quickly, then head off to find parking. Since the more recent shutdowns, the loading zone has been blocked off, forcing us to use two spots — the trolley stop near the police station or a small loading area just past the banyan tree.

Well, since there are no trolleys running, many families have been using this spot to do a quick unload — and it is relatively safe since the police station is nearby. It’s also become a parking lot for the police — and a few have been very vocal, albeit a bit aggressive, in telling us “this is not a loading zone.”

When I recently tried to ask when they would be opening up the loading zone, the officer just walked away.

I have used the smaller loading zone just past the banyan tree, but it is an area with many homeless. And while that is another issue, on many occasions I have witnessed very aggressive behavior and drug use — both of which I do not want my teens exposed to, nor do they feel safe waiting with the boards while I go get the car.

I wouldn’t even consider going to the restroom in Waikiki.

So what do we do with this new found love for Waikiki and surfing? Where is the aloha for the residents? For the families? For the Native Hawaiians?

In addition, the place is dirty — and we are talking way less people around these days and yet the city and state can’t even malama (care) for it now? It’s just shocking really. I wouldn’t even consider going to the restroom — but my husband did on a Saturday morning, and he reported deplorable and embarrassing conditions.

So, while it seems the state is in such a rush to get the tourists back so they can make money and stabilize the economy, do they really care about them? Do they have aloha for them?

It is clear they really don’t have aloha for us.

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About the Author

Bonnie Kahapea-Tanner

Bonnie Kahapea-Tanner was born and raised in Kaneohe. She is the mother of two daughters, Kaialea and Lehia, and is married to Halona Tanner.

Latest Comments (0)

As a resident of Waikiki, I agree wholeheartedly. I live just a few minutes' walk from the beach, but the insane numbers of tourists pre-pandemic often dissuaded me from going. It's been a blessing to be able to swim in clean and clear water. And yeah, it really feels like the local government is just waiting for tourism to restart without really making plans to do things differently. Local needs are still secondary.

MPeraino · 2 years ago

It's strange that in reading this article and the comments the feedback is the same.  Locals re-finding Waikiki, I did too, been there a few times didn't want to spoil myself.   But more concerning are the complaints, the blatant use of drug use, homeless, and deplorable state of the parks and facilities.Last I checked the mayor spent a chunk of change of the CARES Act money on ATV's for patrols and Police OT, evidently just to enforce social distancing, and keep people out and not enforce drug laws or sit/lie ban .  Mayor also spent several hundred thousand on parks and recreation.  Another article by CB today said they haven't cut jobs or done furloughs... So where are these workers?   

surferx808 · 2 years ago

I love this article. I am hapa, S. Cali and Hawaii. l remember the old days too. I was 19 on my first visit to Oahu....l felt like l was finally home!  l am now 70, and l too, though a visitor 3 times a year, cannot stand the misuse of my favorite place on the planet by tons and tons of tourists! Is there a middle ground? Can someone, politician or otherwise figure out how locals and us ‘wanna be locals’, 😊, can keep the old Hawaii alive and well? Limit tourists? No more cruise ships!? Something?! I am keeping my homesickness at bay by listening to KINE every day. Mele and Shannon are my salve to heal the wound l have without my _clean_ clear blue water, the water of Waikiki without tons of people. Mahalo. 

mdjaloha · 2 years ago

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