Hawaii Boating News & Updates

DOBOR ALERT Div. of Boating and Ocean Recreation July 27, 2022


The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation Maui District will be holding a vessel auction for two sailing vessels. For more information, please visit: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/impounded-vessel-auctions





Important Message from the DLNR Div. Boating & Ocean Recreation OCTOBER 5, 2020:




Work is slated to begin on October 6, 2020 to replace the failed loading dock at Maunalua Bay Launch Ramp, Hawaii Kai, Oahu. Sea Engineering will begin setting up their staging area and initiate demolition of the existing loading dock, make repairs and install a new dock fabricated by Bluewater Marine. Cost of the project is $332,060.


During the early stages of the project, one lane of the two-lane ramp will be closed. At some point, for a short period, both lanes will be closed. DLNR will receive 72-hours advanced notice before the complete closure and will alert the public when that is to occur. The project is slated to be completed by 12/15/20 but the project could very possibly be completed before that date.


The public is asked to observe no parking signs. Vehicles will be towed if they impede construction work.


DOBOR engineers condemned the dock due to structural failure early in 2019. The ramp has remained open, but boaters have not been permitted to tie up to the dock.


DOBOR Management


Important Message from the DLNR Div. Boating & Ocean Recreation OCTOBER 7, 2020:


DOBOR has posted guidance for watersports companies holding a Commercial Use Permit. For details, please check






Important Message from the DLNR Div. Boating and Ocean Recreation OCTOBER 22, 2020


CLARIFICATION: DOBOR has updated restrictions for uninspected commercial 6pax vessels posted on its Covid-19 page. The updated restrictions only apply to 6pax vessels operating in waters off Oahu.







DLNR issued new guidelines for State parks, beaches, trails and boating on September 23, 2020.


On personal recreational boats, no more than five people are allowed in any personal boat on Hawaii’s waters for recreational purposes. All boats shall maintain 20-feet from other boats when in use.


Commercial recreational boating operations must limit occupancy to no more than twenty five percent (25%) of the maximum occupant load of the vessel; implement protocols to ensure that guests maintain proper physical distancing; prohibit food or drinks from being served or consumed within the vessel cabin (if any); and obtain and keep the names, addresses, and phone numbers of guests for contact tracing purposes.


Ahu O Laka (aka The Sandbar) in Kaneohe Bay is also reopening effective Thursday, 9/24/20, with the aforementioned restrictions being enforced.


Visit DOBOR's Covid-19 Response Page at:



View the DLNR press release at:








This is to clarify questions regarding commercial boating as it pertains to the recent Oahu Mayor’s Emergency Order No. 2020-25,




Only Essential Businesses as defined in Section F of the Order are permitted to operate. Commercial marine operators that provide tours such as sunset cruises, snorkeling, surf schools, catamaran rides, scuba diving, etc. are not deemed to be Essential Businesses and are prohibited from operating while this Order remains in effect or as may be amended in the future.





In respect to the recent Covid guidelines issued for Oahu, DOBOR Offices in Honolulu are still open to the public. DOBOR is working to maintain access to all of its facilities. There has been no change to guidelines for recreational & commercial boating. For all islands, the limit is currently five occupants on a recreational vessel. Commercial vessels may carry 50% of their passenger capacity, but passengers must stay in clusters of no more than five.





The Hawaii District Office and Honokohau small boat harbor office will be closed to the public on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays beginning September 1, 2020. For more information, please visit our website at: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/2020/08/19/honokohau-hours-of-operation/





The DOBOR Covid-19 Response Page Q&A has been updated.


Q2. All islands in waters surrounding O‘ahu will be closed beginning at midnight, 8/7/20.  Ahu O Laka, aka the Sandbar in Kaneohe Bay, will also be closed.  Read the press release.


See the full text of DOBOR’s COVID Q&A at:






Until further notice, all parking permits may be obtained at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor office.  Should you have any questions, please contact the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor at 973-9727.





DOBOR Notice 7/24/20


According to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, Hurricane Douglas is now a category three hurricane. If the storm maintains its direction and rate of travel approaching Hawaii, there will be an increasing chance of damaging winds, dangerous surf, and heavy rainfall beginning Saturday night or Sunday.  Hawaii & Maui Counties are in port condition WHISKEY.  Boaters should have a hurricane plan specific to their craft and situation.


The Hawai`i Boater's Hurricane and Tsunami Safety Manual is a valuable resource of information.  Printed copies of the manuals are available at all DOBOR offices.


The following hurricane plan provides details on how DOBOR will react to this type of event.


DOBOR'S Hurricane Harbor Closure Procedure: http://files.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dobor/contacts/Plan-HURRICANE.pdf




DLNR DOBOR Administration as of JUNE 30, 2020:


The DOBOR Covid-19 Response Page Q&A has been updated as of June 30, 2020


Q4 and Q8 - Recreational and commercial vessels can now carry up to 50% of their capacity.  Social distancing and sanitation requirements for commercial vessels still apply.   Read the press release issued by DLNR.


See the full text of these questions and answers at:








Aloha Ocean Charter Operators,


Another announcement from DLNR-DOBOR today, see attached below.


According to the first release, effective immediately all commercial tour operators can "exceed" their USCG-COI by 50%. Obviously this would cause major issues with the USCG if you "exceed" your COI. This was a mistake by DLNR and the release was later corrected to say "not to exceed" 50% of your vessels COI for vessels over ten passengers.


This language would suggest a ten passenger vessel can operate at full capacity and a twelve passenger vessel can only operate with six passengers. I had a phone conversation this morning with Ed Underwood, head of DOBOR, and ask for clarification on this release. Mr. Underwood stated that no vessel should operate at greater than 50% of the vessels USCG-COI while maintaining social distancing and any vessel can carry up to ten passengers plus crew as long the vessel is not exceeding its normal passenger rating while maintaining social distancing.


Example, a six-pack can carry six passengers plus crew, a sixteen passenger vessel can carry ten passengers plus crew, and a twenty two passenger vessel can carry eleven passengers plus crew. Additionally all vessels must maintain proper social distancing with all passengers and crew.


Thanks to all the individuals that have put in time and work to help protect the boating industry. Let's keep going forward. For all commercial operators on Hawai'i Island we are having a meeting to discuss DOBOR,COVID and the commercial boating industry tomorrow evening at 5pm at Jack's Diving Locker fuel dock pavilion in Honokohau. All are welcome to attend.



I hope everyone has stayed healthy and secure.


Thank You


Justin P. Smith


Pacific Boats & Yachts














June 29, 2020




(Honolulu) – The State of Hawai῾i, through the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), with the concurrence of the Counties of Hawai‘i, Maui, Kauai, and of the City and County of Honolulu, is lifting certain COVID-19 emergency restrictions imposed on larger commercial and recreational boating, and on ocean recreation.


DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood said, “This change in rules is effective immediately and allows commercial and recreational boats, with a rated U.S. Coast Guard capacity of more than ten, to exceed their rated capacity by no more than 50 percent, provided they operating under the Boating and Ocean Recreation COVID-19 guidelines, linked below.


These “Act With Care” phase guidelines are based on Dept. of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as well as input from boaters in Hawai‘i and in coordination with the counties. The protocols cover physical distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing, and cleaning and disinfecting.


All crews and passengers are covered by these rules and they apply to all commercial and recreational boats in all four counties.

# # #


Guidelines Attached

Web Link: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/covid-19-dobor-response/



Media Contact:

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

(808) 587-0396


DLNR DOBOR Administration as of JUNE 19, 2020:


The DOBOR Covid-19 Response Page Q&A has been updated.

Q1. What is the current status of Marine Event Permits?  Is DOBOR accepting applications now that things are opening up again?


DOBOR will resume issuing Marine Event Permits. Applications can be found on the DOBOR form page.  As a condition of these permits, event organizers must adhere to all existing State and County requirements for boating and gatherings on land.


See the full text of these questions and answers at:




JUNE 4, 2020

Q1. All DOBOR facilities are open to the public.  Visitors must wear a mask.  Only one visitor may enter a lobby at a time.  Social distancing is required.  PLEASE READ ALL POSTS AT DOBOR FACILITIES BEFORE ENTERING. THESE SAFEGUARDS ARE IN PLACE FOR YOUR PROTECTION AND FOR THE PROTECTION OF DOBOR STAFF.

Q2.  Emergency rule restricting number of passengers on a single boat has been revised.


Q7. Commercial Vessel and Commercial Watersports permittees may resume operation, provided that all requirements are met.


See the full text of these questions and answers at:





DLNR DOBOR Administration as of JUNE 4, 2020:


Effectively immediately, commercial vessel operations can resume with up to 10 people on a vessel at one time and following the COVID-19 “Act With Care” guidelines.  The ten people restriction includes passengers and crew.  The ten-person limit can be exceeded if everyone is from the same household.


All commercial watersports operators such as surf schools and kayak tours can also resume operations with the same restrictions of a limit of 10 people including clients and staff.






Aloha Ocean Charter Operators,


This week brought big news for everyone; commercial use permits have been re-instated! Many commercial charter companies have been contacting DLNR as well as other departments of government, asking for their permits to be reinstated. It likely would have taken longer to get to this point without that effort. So, thank you for this effort! I’m sure there are mixed feelings for many reasons, but when tourists return you will be ready and in operation. Hopefully many of our kama‘aina and neighbors are willing to support our small businesses and book charters to go fishing, diving, snorkeling, sailing or an evening watching the sunset.


Other big news in Hawai‘i was released yesterday. On O‘ahu, bars, movie theaters, and gyms will be able to open and operate on June 19th. Governor Ige has also signed off on allowing gatherings of 100 people outdoors and 50 people indoors.


The Hawai‘i commercial charter operations are built to be outdoor spaces. Charter companies should be able to operate their vessels at a reasonable passenger count, not exceeding the USCG’s passenger limit, while maintaining social distancing. Charter vessels are all different sizes and layouts. Making a blanket rule of a maximum of ten passengers, including crew, for all commercial vessels makes no sense. A six passenger vessels would be completely unaffected by this regulation, while a 49 passenger vessel has their operational capacity reduced by 80%. Many of the larger vessels cannot financially operate at these numbers. Restaurants and now bars can adjust their operations according to their situation, charter operators should be given the same opportunity to make accommodations and operate safely.



I encourage everyone to contact the heads of DLNR-DOBOR, the Governor, and Mayors to point out this discrepancy and encourage them to stand up for Hawai‘i’s commercial boating community. I’m sure this shut-down has taken a great financial toll on everyone, we don’t need unnecessary rules that will continue to bring charter companies to the edge of failure. Especially when other local businesses are allowed to operate at greater capacities. Let’s remind them that ocean charters are one of the largest industries in the state and employ thousands of people and bring in huge amounts of revenue to the state. DLNR-DOBOR is funded through harbor fees, they work for you. They need to hear from you that the current allowances for passengers are bias and unreasonable.












suzanne.case@hawaii.gov – Head of DLNR


robert.k.masuda@hawaii.gov - First deputy DLNR


meghan.l.statts@hawaii.gov - Assistant Administrator of DLNR-DOBOR


Ed.R.Underwood@hawaii.gov – Administrator of DLNR-DOBOR


I hope everyone has stayed healthy and secure.


Thank You


Justin P. Smith


Pacific Boats & Yachts


(808) 319-8925

Hawaii Boats & Yachts Magazine and HB&Y are registered trademarks of HBYM LLC

Copyright 2023 HBYM LLC. All rights reserved