Safari Explorer tour boat returns under intense security

Protesters temporarily block a van of visitors. Law enforcement created a clear passage for the tourists without difficulty.

Security measures on Molokai were at an all-time high Saturday as the Safari Explorer luxury tour yacht docked at Kaunakakai Harbor under the scrutiny of U.S. Coast Guard, a Maui County SWAT team, FBI, Department of Land and Natural Resources officers and the State of Hawaii Judicial Department security forces.

The DLNR and Coast Guard created a security zone around the harbor in response to protests of the 145-foot American Safari Cruises ship. On Nov. 26, a group of local protesters on surfboards and small vessels successfully blocked the Safari Explorer from coming to Molokai. Although an agreement had been reached between the protesters and ASC that would allow the boat to return, Governor Abercrombie’s office decided a security zone would still be needed.

The Safari Explorer at Kaunakakai Harbor surrounded by coast guard security.

A group of approximately 50 peaceful protesters were watched over by an equal number of law enforcement officials in the early morning hours. At 6:30 a.m. all vehicular traffic on wharf road was blocked. When the Safari Explorer docked at 7:30 a.m., it was strategically surrounded by jet skis, Zodiac boats and a coast guard cruiser. No protesters attempted to enter the water and no arrests were made.

Some protesters expressed anger toward the Safari Explorer. But a larger contingent, many of whom never protested the cruises, were upset by the excessive law enforcement presence.

“What next, marshall (sic) law?” asked one protest sign. “We are not terrorists” was written on a few signs. The feeling that Kaunakakai wharf was now under martial law seemed to resonate with the crowd.

“Molokai has always peacefully demonstrated,” shouted activist Hano Naehu through a bullhorn. “Yet you guys come here fully loaded, armed and ready to shoot, what’s up with that? What you gonna do, shoot our kids? Gonna shoot the kupuna? What’s next, martial law, huh?”

Protesters asked the visiting law enforcement how much this security zone action would cost taxpayers. Without a clear answer from the DLNR, many questioned if this was the best use of resources.

Could the Safari Explorer have come in to Kaunakakai Harbor with a simple coast guard sweep of the water instead of a security zone?

A pule to end the peaceful protest.

“We did look at all of our options,” responded U.S. Coast Guard Captain Joanna Nunan when asked this question. “We wanted to have an option where we would be able to take action if folks actually got in the water. So to be able to do that we need a bit more than just a sweep.”

After the Safari Explorer passengers — apparently a group of 28 Peruvians — drove through the crowd of protesters, they were met by a group of sign-waving supporters in Kuanakakai town. The group then spent the weekend enjoying Molokai’s beaches on Saturday and then hiking to Moa’ula Falls in Halawa Valley on Sunday.


9 Responses

  1. Memories are short here. Molokai has always peacefully demonstrated? No fires ever? Hmmm. Seems like the guy who promised peaceful demonstrations plead down to a misdemeanor charge after many years of avoiding trial on more serious charges. Maybe the Gubenator has a better head for history than the folks here and in an overabundance of caution, chose to protect the lives of 29 foreign nationals. It would have been an unholy international manure-storm if any of them had been hurt or otherwise molested. Nobody here wants that kind of action.

  2. i love that last paragraph- after all the drama, the visitors dropped some kala, enjoyed the storied island of lonely and left.

    being serious here, it’s good to see walter and ua delivered on their ‘word’.

    baby steps are often small kine.

  3. What happen Hano Naehu he used to be a nice person. it is very sad to hear what comes out of your mouth. Why Hano, why are you behaving like this ,you have a beautiful wife and a daughter….It saddens me and is so disappointing…..

  4. Can’t help but wonder if the Governor’s Office is laying the groundwork for the upcoming windmill invasion.

  5. I was at the wharf on Saturday morning. I must admit i found a little bit of satisfaction watching the protestors in their frustration. Welcome to my world! Except now there are equal rights for all. or better, less rights for all, but all have an equal amount of less rights.

    This is still better than having the protestors run around and terrorize us.

    THANK YOU to the COAST GUARD!!!!

  6. The Coast Guard would not have come if the protesters did not block the yacht a few weeks ago. They brought it on themselves… this is the United States not the Hawaiian Kingdom when the Royal families where in charge and the rest of the peole had a station in their life.
    Thank you Coast Guard:)

  7. people should thank the protesters….we brought over 40 law enforcement people to the island ,they all rode the plane,stayed at the hotel,rented cars ,ate at restraunts bought trinkets ….there were about 100 law officers in all and they werent working for free….jobs created,money bought to molokai….and the molokai people made $$$ off the boat…… it was a perfect day THANK YOU PROTESTERS!!!

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