Californians’ “glamping” business accused of exploiting Hawaii

A luxury “glamping” company is causing controversy in Hawaii’s quiet Waimanalo community, Hawaii News Now reported.

The outlet says that Glamping Hawaii, which provides a “high-end camping and event experience,” has been accused of illegally supporting tents just meters from homeless families in the county’s beach park. This controversy comes shortly after Bill 38 was signed into law, which bans most commercial activities such as weddings and photo shoots from Waimanalo to Makapuu. Now the company – which is also run by a group of Californians who recently moved to Hawaii – is under investigation by the city of Honolulu.

“This was not just a camping outfit. This was glamping in its full hewa source. I mean, it was a bar, a tall bar, set up with bar stools,” Waimanalo Neighborhood board member Kapua Medeiros told the outlet.

According to their website, Glamping Hawaii offers extravagant tent packages that can be equipped with five-foot-high teak kitchens, fire pits and bars for an additional fee. Although they do not state package prices, Hawaii News Now says they cost “several hundred dollars” per night.

Business representatives told the outlet that they did not think they were breaking the law, and stated that patrons are responsible for obtaining camping permits. However, Hawaii News Now says this may also be illegal as permits cannot be transferred.


Emma Koa, a Waimanalo native and business owner, told the outlet that she personally confronted business owners and accused them of selling a “romanticized” version of Hawaii to tourists. (However, company representatives told the outlet that 70% of their customers are local.)

“We do not need more people to prostitute and exploit Hawaii and her people and her aina, and the whole depiction of paradise of Hawaii,” Koa told the newspaper.

“People pay to come and take advantage of Hawaii and have an authentic Hawaiian experience,” she continues in a recorded video, as she zooms in on the flashpoint. “Meanwhile, it’s the authentic Hawaiian experience,” she says, going to the homeless camp. “It’s embarrassing.”

An Yelp user, Keks Manera5, left a one-star review admonishing the company’s actions. “… This is a slap in the face to native Hawaiians / kanaka maoli and the local generations who have been here for decades struggling to survive and survive. … Hawaii is so over the greed and exploitation of the islands. PACK IT ALL UP … “

“This is not an attack on commercial activity, but it is a warning, a shoutout to all business owners operating in our parks and beaches that you are not welcome here. And we passed a law to cement it,” Waimanalo Neighborhood Board Member Kapua Medeiros told Hawaii News Now.

Glamping Hawaii did not respond to SFGATE’s request for comment when writing this article.