State conservation and resources officers issued more than two dozen citations in and around the Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor parking lot and boat launch for Kaneohe Bay Sandbar over Memorial Day weekend.
Two fights broke out over parking as people jockeyed for coveted spaces, according to Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Lt. Fagota “Junior” Taipu. There were also four to six boating safety violations, and tickets for parking and motor vehicle violations.
At the sandbar, officers told a jet ski operator he was in violation of the rules by having his vessel up on it. They also told three teen-aged boys to get off of a channel marker, and that the boat they were on was stationary in the channel, which is not permitted.
State Department of Land and Natural Resources officials estimated there were about 80 boats at Kaneohe Bay Sandbar, also known as Ahu o Laka Sandbar, Sunday afternoon, and about 50 to 60 out there today. Alcohol was banned at the sandbar for the 10th Memorial Day weekend this year.
DLNR officials say considering this was the first three-day holiday weekend in a year without strict, COVID-19 restrictions, there were relatively few issues on beaches and in near-shore waters around the state.
“Given the pent-up demand, with this being the first long weekend without masks, we’re very pleased with the compliance we got from most people,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla in a news release, adding that most people were playing by the rules.
In East Honolulu, an officer had to break up a party Sunday afternoon at Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline.
Officers were also dispatched to Kahana Bay after a report of illegal jet ski use there, but there was no evidence of rules violations by the time they arrived.
At Kaena Point State Park, a young woman argued loudly with officers and flipped them off after learning she could not watch the sunset from within the park.
DOCARE officers helped a lone contract security guard “sweep” the Keawaula Section of Kaena Point State Park, where the parking lot gate is now closed at 7 p.m. on Sunday nights.
Officers traveled up and down the beach advising people to pack up and leave by 7 p.m. to avoid having their vehicles “impounded” behind the gates overnight.
The new rules were put in place after out-of-control parties during the pandemic, the state said, along with a decline in funding for enforcement and maintenance services.
Alcohol will also be prohibited at the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar over the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.
Redulla said DOCARE officers cannot be everywhere, all the time, monitoring more than 700 miles of coastline, so the state relies on people’s own good behaviors and the swift reporting of crimes and violations by responsible citizens.
Violations of state resources rules can be reported to 643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app.