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The History of Surf

Statue of Duke

Courtesy of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau

Duke welcomes you to Waikiki Beach with open arms.

There are many legends that are attributed to Duke Kahanamoku. He’s been called the father of modern surfing, ambassador of Hawaii, pioneer of Wakiki beach boys, first person to be inducted in both the Surfing Hall of Fame and the Swimming Hall of Fame- and those are just the true stories. As an Oahu native Duke grew up in the waters of Waikiki Beach, quickly honing the skills that would make him famous. Beginning in 1912 Duke started breaking world records and joined the Olympic team. For the next 20 years he would compete in the Olympics, win five medals and put Hawaii on the map.

Although surfing was not yet recognized as an Olympic sport, Duke was considered an expert and invited to perform surf exhibitions internationally. It didn’t take long for Hollywood to notice this rising star and cast Duke in over 28 movies, including a role where he appeared opposite of John “duke” Wayne. He may not have been the first to step foot on a surfboard, but Duke is widely considered to have introduced surfing to the water savvy Australians as well as the rest of the world.

Today, Duke’s impact can be seen all over Honolulu. Start at Waikiki Beach where the statue of Duke welcomes you with open arms. Just steps from the bronzed icon you can grab a bite at Duke’s Waikiki, where memorabilia and photos of the surfer are proudly displayed.  This local hangout is also site of the surfer's original sponsor, the Outrigger Canoe Club, which overlooks the spot where Duke made his mark.


Experience Honolulu like Duke Kahanamoku:

Aikau Pure Hawaiian Surf Academy

Located in the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, HI, 808-949-4321 ext. 74063

Waikiki Beach Boys Surf Camp


Located on Kuhio State Beach on Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI, 800-939-8323. E-mail: Aloha @waikikibeachboyssurfcamp.com


Waikiki Beach Services

Surf Lessons and Outrigger Canoe Surfing

Located at Duke’s Restaurant at 2335 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI, 808-542-0608


Alex’s Aquatic Adventures

Located at 4132 Napali Place, Honolulu, HI, 808-292-0616

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