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LETTER: Locals Demand Entrance Fee to Green Sands

November 16, 2018, 1:54 PM HST (Updated November 16, 2018, 1:54 PM)
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My wife and I have enjoyed a two-week stay on the Big Island. We are currently on the Big Island Kona-side. I’ve paid close to approximately $10,000 for this trip including all the activities. I must say, we have enjoyed everything up until yesterday (11/15/2018).

We decided to check a rare beach off our bucket list, Green Sands near South Point. We were stunned driving in to the entrance to find numerous broken down vehicles, and a makeshift garage made out of blue tarps that housed another vehicle in poor condition.

We were greeted, for lack of a better term, in a menacing manner by some local Hawaiians at this very location. They said we were required to pay a $20 fee for entrance to Green Sands. We were naive and gave the remaining $15 in cash for the entrance fee because they didn’t have change for a $100. That was a red flag.

I asked, “what organization are you with?” The locals replied, “Hawaiian Homes.”

After paying the fee and proceeding on the drive to Green Sands, my wife and I realized we were scammed.

On the drive down, we saw other vehicles, including many owned by local Hawaiians hauling tourists in the back of there trucks down rut-filled, treacherous roads. We also saw many tourists walking. We were stunned by how many dirt roads running parallel to each other all leading to the same place, as well as the amount of old fishing nets and general trash along the way.

We arrived at Green Sands without further incident and enjoyed the beach for approximately two hours. We asked other tourists at the beach if locals tried to make them pay $20 for entrance fee, they replied “yes,” but some paid and some didn’t. Perhaps they weren’t all as naive as my wife and I.

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Upon exiting Green Sands, we saw the same “local” who took our $15 entrance fee. I politely stated, “I would like my money back.” He reply “what money?” He also indicated that this was Hawaiian Homeland.

I wasn’t going to argue; however, we do know that Hawaiian beaches are required to have public access.

We left without further incident and warned tourists driving to the entrance of Green Sands. We drove eastward to the police station and reported the incident. The officer was extremely kind and did feel bad for us and other tourists. He was going to dispatch an officer to the scene and indicated that this has been an ongoing problem.

The areas of additional concern I have are:
1. These locals are operating to the extent of commercial activity without having proper business license, bonded and insured.
2. No license plates on vehicles used to shuttle tourists.
3. Locals are demanding cash. I highly doubt they are paying taxes.
4. Damage to Homelands from there vehicle traffic as well as tourists vehicles.
5. Gives locals a bad name.
6. In reading internet reviews, tourists claim they are paying $15 per person one way for a ride. If there is a party of four, that’s $120 round trip. Times that by an easy 10, that equals $1200 for one day. Times that by a year and you get my point.

In conclusion, the officer asked if we wanted our $15 back. I replied, “no, I just want the corruption to end.”

On a final note, “Hawaiian Homes Commission” published a letter in 2016 with these exact same concerns. It’s now almost 2019, what is being done about this?

In 1893, during the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the idea of Hawaiian Homelands was born. In 1921 the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES set aside 200,000 acres as a land trust for “homesteading” by native Hawaiians. The law was mandated in 1921 by US Congress. Primary responsibility was transferred to the state level in 1959. The US federal government retains oversight, including the right to sue for breach of trust.

This land was not set aside to scam tourists on a ride to the beach or to charge tourists entrance fees. It was set aside for native Hawaiians for homesteading and agricultural.

Letters, commentaries and opinion pieces are not edited by Big Island Now.

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