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DLNR News Release-Waikiki Blue Cards for Commercial Instructors & Operators Repealed

Posted on Oct 27, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – Certification permits, issued by the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), have long been required for surf and sailboard instructors, catamaran and canoe captains and second captains, and commercial motorboat operators, operating in Waikīkī. 


Today, the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) voted to repeal the requirement for commercial instructors in Waikīkī to obtain blue cards. Existing commercial use permit rules and restrictions are not repealed by this action. Safety training requirements will be incorporated as conditions to commercial use permits. 


In 2020, DOBOR brought a repeal proposal to the land board, which deferred a decision and directed the division to work with stakeholders to determine the best way to proceed. 


DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood told the BLNR today, “Historically, we have been responsible for issuing Waikīkī Operator Permits, but we don’t have the expertise or resources to conduct testing and approval, effectively and timely.” 


Underwood says repealing the blue card requirement will allow commercial operators to set their own employee qualification standards and keeps DOBOR out of the process, as the division does not have subject-matter expertise on surfing and canoe operations or techniques.  


The Department of the Attorney General also expressed concerns that the State could be held liable if someone got hurt on a tour, while receiving instruction from a permit holder. 


DOBOR has been and will continue working with Waikīkī commercial operators to develop conditions and regulations for various commercial ocean activities. Underwood added, “DOBOR believes the blue card repeal is the best solution while we work collaboratively to develop replacement regulations to address all issues surrounding Waikīkī Operator Permits.” 

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR) 


HD video – Waikīkī surf schools (March 5, 2022): 


Photographs – Waikīkī surf instruction:



Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

(808) 587-0396

[email protected]