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Afterthoughts: Kan-Don't

I’d like to keep this floating business as a mirage, thanks very much.


Photo: Linny Morris

I was enjoying lunch at Hau Tree Lanai this summer, and the weather was so clear, I could see another island in the distance. Yes, KanDoo Island, off the coast of Waikiki. Jaunty flags flew as the island bobbed in the water, giving it the appearance of a medieval mirage. 

What, you haven’t heard of this new “island”? It’s actually a catamaran, reconfigured to be a sort of floating playground for children and adults. Tourists get ferried out and, uh, “kandoo” their snorkeling, jet-skiing, parasailing, and bouncing on  a giant, inflatable trampoline. They can drink mai tais at the bar, check out undersea life in a dive cage or take a spin down a slide into the ocean. OK.

What is definitely not OK is having a two-level, 148-foot vessel floating offshore, stationery, visible for 12 hours a day. Kandoo Island would be fun to play on, I’m sure. Fun to look at, not so much.

Illustration: Jing Jing Tsong

When I saw the “island,” part of me thought, “Oh, that’s kind of cool!” Then, I realized, it’s cool when there is just one. But what if you had two, three, then 10? Soon, what should be a 180-degree view of azure water, dotted by paddlers and surfers, could become a cluttered tent city of bouncy inflatable castles.

Since the debut of this business in early August, Kandoo Island was waylaid by insurance and payroll issues, and at the time of this writing had been docked. While it’s offline, I hope someone comes to their senses at the Department of Land and Natural Resources offices and stops this thing. (Several calls to the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation had not been returned as of press time.)

On its Web site, the Kandoo company has a cheeseball tendency to label its customers as “klients” and enthuses, “keep koming!” Sure, while you’re ruining the landscape, go ahead and trash the English language, too, and feel free to use words like “kaptain.” But you don’t need a permit for grammar, so I digress.

We live in a town that some consider a little hyper about our outdoor spaces. For example, after the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile toured here this past summer, some national press—and locals, too, to be fair—thought it was funny when the Outdoor Circle asked that it not return here in the future. I saw an online report that our state had shunned a giant hot dog because “An archaic 1927 law bans all billboards on the Hawaiian islands.” I wouldn’t call that law archaic. We may have lots of urban sprawl, but have you driven in other cities? I’d much rather see a mountain than a cellphone company’s billboard—or a 27-foot-long hot dog.

Besides, regardless of how you felt about the Weinermobile, it had a set schedule, came, did its franks-and-beans thang—and left.

If our state wants to host the tourists who are so vital to our economy and our job market, we need to remember that they come here for one reason: because it’s beautiful. They aren’t coming here to get married, for example, because they can tie the knot at city hall in their hometown. They come here to get married because it’s beautiful, and they want to get married on a beautiful beach. All tourism activities are moot if you don’t have that intrinsic natural beauty.

Which we have every right to protect. Which we have a duty to protect. It’s okay to say “no, thanks,” to a giant hot dog, and to deflate a plan for an “ocean amusement oasis.”

We are not amused.                      


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Honolulu Magazine April 2018
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