Luxurious ‘glamping’ business sparks controversy in Hawaii’s sleepy Waimanalo community, Hawaii News Now reported.

The outlet says that Glamping in Hawaii, which offers a “premium camping and event experience,” was charged with illegally pitching tents within yards of homeless families at the county’s beach park. This controversy comes just after Bill 38 signed into law, which prohibits most commercial activities like weddings and photo shoots from Waimanalo to Makapuu. Today, the company – which is also run by a group of californians who recently moved to Hawaii – is reportedly being investigated by the City of Honolulu.

“It wasn’t just camping gear. It was glamping in all its hewa source. I mean, it was a bar, a big bar, set up with bar stools,” Kapua Medeiros said, Waimanalo Ward Board Member.

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 Additional charges. Although they don’t list package prices, Hawaii News Now says they cost “several hundred dollars” per night.

Company representatives told the outlet they don’t believe they are breaking the law, saying customers are responsible for obtaining camping permits. However, Hawaii News Now says it could also be illegal because 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 selling a “romanticized” version of Hawaii to tourists. (However, company representatives told the outlet that 70% of their customers are locals.)

“We don’t need more people who prostitute themselves and exploit Hawaii and its people and its aina, and all of Hawaii’s paradise representation,” Koa told the outlet.

“People are paying to come exploit Hawaii and have an authentic Hawaiian experience,” she continues in a recorded video, zooming in on the glampsite. “Meanwhile, that’s where the authentic Hawaiian experience is,” she says, panning over the homeless encampment. “It’s embarassing.”

A Yelp User, Keks Manera5, left a one-star review scolding the company’s actions. “…This is such a slap in the face for the Native Hawaiians/Kanaka Maoli and local generations who have been here for decades struggling to survive and get by. …Hawaiʻi is so above greed and exploitation of the islands. PACK EVERYTHING…”

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

Glamping Hawaii has not responded to SFGATE’s request for comment at the time of this writing.