WAIKIKI, Oahu — The Department of Land and Natural Resources is backing away from considering a ban on Waikiki’s offshore parties, also known as floatopias or flotillas.
The parties involve hundreds of people who paddle from Oahu’s shoreline on a wide array of items and tie up together to have fun. The state agency discussed outlawing them after last summer’s Fourth of July flotilla off Kuhio Beach attracted hundreds of people. Some of them had to be assisted to shore when the surf kicked up.
DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said in an email that the agency would consider all available options to bring some level of control to future waterborne parties. But, she said, the state does not have to step in at this time.
“As long as the party-goers are not disturbing others or putting themselves at risk, and are operating their vessels in a safe manner, there’s no need for the state to get involved,” Ward said in the email.
However, she said conservation officers would keep a close watch over the parties, making sure boat operators are not drunk, or driving in a reckless manner.
Aaron Rosenblatt has taken part in the festivities the past five years.
“It usually starts off with a couple of boats getting together, and then rafts,” Rosenblatt said.
Last summer at Kuhio Beach, city lifeguards estimated 175 to 200 party-goers were brought to the beach on water craft when the surf kicked up. Many were intoxicated, and the incident prompted a meeting a few days later with various stakeholders, including the Honolulu Police Department, the city’s Ocean Safety Division and DLNR.
Jim Howe, the head of the city’s Ocean Safety Division, said lifeguards would also take extra precautions during the offshore celebrations.
Kahi Pacarro, of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, welcomed DLNR’s approach. Members of Pacarro’s nonprofit group, including Rosenblatt, partake in the annual Independence Day festivities while also gathering trash offshore.
“I hope that they’re seeing that we’re trying to be responsible with this event, that it’s been going on for a long time, and it’s a tradition at this point,” he said.