A luxurious “glamping” company is stirring up 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 propping up tents just yards away from homeless families in the county beach park. This controversy comes just after Bill 38 was signed into law, which prohibits most commercial activities like 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 reportedly 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 outfitted with five-foot-tall teak kitchens, fire pits, and bars for extra fees. Though they don’t list package prices, Hawaii News Now says they cost “several hundred dollars” per night. 

Company representatives told the outlet they didn’t think they were violating the law, stating that patrons are responsible for obtaining camping permits. However, Hawaii News Now says this might also be illegal as permits are not transferable. 

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

“We don’t need more people prostituting and exploiting Hawaii and her people and her aina, and the whole paradise depiction of Hawaii,” Koa told the outlet. 

“People pay to come and exploit Hawaii and have an authentic Hawaiian experience,” she continues in a recorded video, zooming in on the glampsite. “Meanwhile, right there is the authentic Hawaiian experience,” she says, panning to the homeless encampment. “That’s embarrassing.”

One Yelp user, Keks Manera5, left a one-star review admonishing the company’s actions. ” … This is such a slap in the face to Native Hawaiians/kanaka Maoli and the local generations that been here for decades who are struggling to survive and get by. … Hawaiʻi 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 who are operating on our parks and beaches that you are not welcome here. And we passed a law to cement that,” Waimanalo Neighborhood Board Member Kapua Medeiros told Hawaii News Now. 

Glamping Hawaii did not respond to SFGATE’s request for comment at the time this article was written. 


published 2022-06-18 11:54:12