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Beach Grit

Protest: “No beachboys, no aloha!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

A piece of surf history is threatened!

As surfers, we are metaphysically connected to the Hawaiian islands and all that happens thereupon. To all the happy good days and shave ice and plate lunch. To all the darkened troubled days with floods or lava flows or contract disputes and right now there is a doozy taking place on the sands of Waikiki for it is there that the famed beachboys are being threatened with extinction.

And who are the famed beachboys you ask? Matt Warshaw answers in his masterpiece the Encyclopedia of Surfing (subscribe here!)

Lionized and mythologized band of easygoing Hawaiian surfer/waterman/hustlers who worked and lounged on the beach at Waikiki in the early and middle 20th century. The beachboy was both a cause and byproduct of the booming Hawaiian tourist trade; he earned a living primarily by lifeguarding and giving surf lessons and canoe rides, and spent his free time surfing, swimming, fishing, and playing music.

If you have been to Waikiki you have certainly seen the beachboys in action and you may even know one or two personally. Now, though, this rich history is being imperiled by a dive operation and let us read from Honolulu’s Star-Advertiser for more.

Supporters of two operators of Waikiki beachboys stands held a peaceful protest this morning after the city ordered them to vacate their concessions.

The order comes after the city awarded Dive Oahu last month a five-year contract to operate two beachboy stands on Kuhio Beach. Despite orders, Star Beachboys and Hawaiian Oceans continued operations this morning.

More than 50 people converged in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue at about 6:30 a.m. today where some held signs that said “Save Our Beach Boys” and “No beach boys, no Aloha.”

The operators are disputing the way the contract was issued by the city. Aaron Rutledge of Star Beachboys said, “It’s nothing against the new company. It’s not his fault. The city should not have qualified a scuba diving company for a beachboy concession. It’s common sense.”

Among the supporters at the protest was legendary waterman Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana who said beachboys have a vast knowledge of the ocean.

“We were born by the water,” he said. “We share what we know and we know the water.”

The dive operation that took over the concessions, named Dive Oahu, had its Instagram overrun by beachboy supporters but have since cleaned the comments. More to come as things develop.