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Hawaiian Legends - Duke Kahanamoku

There are two types of legends: the kind that that are stories from the past, and may be shrouded in a little bit of fiction, and the kind that are actual legends, figures from history who have helped to shape the world. In the case of Duke Kahanamoku, he is the latter, and his legend has lived on throughout the years.

Born in 1890, Duke is one of the most important figures in Hawaiian history. Though he was not royalty, he has achieved a bit of royal status due to his popularity and his role in bringing surfing to the mainstream. Born in 1890 as Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, he was one of 9 children, and his family was a prominent Hawaiian family that had close ties with Bernice Pahuhai Bishop and was considered to be a noble family. When he was about 3 years old, his family moved to Waikiki, and though nobody would have known it at the time, this was a pivotal moment in his life.

Duke was a star athlete, among many other things, and helped to popularize the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing. He learned to surf on the waves of Waikiki Beach, and spent his youth as a beach boy on the same sand that visitors flock to. Though the backdrop has changed pretty dramatically, the waves are the same, and surfing the same breaks as Duke is now a very popular activity in Hawaii.

Though he was a great surfer, his bread and butter was swimming. Duke broke and held world records during his illustrious career, and was a five-time Olympic medalist, competing in every Olympic games from 1912-1924, and was actually an alternate on the U.S. Water Polo team during the 1932 games.

In addition to his athletic career, Duke held many other careers, most notably as the sheriff of Honolulu from 1932-1961. He also was an actor, appearing in many films between 1925-1967, lifeguard, and a notable businessman.

Following his death in 1968, Duke’s legend grew, and today, his presence is still felt throughout Waikiki, and Hawaii. Visitors from around the world visit the Duke statue along Waikiki Beach, adorning his outstretched arms with fresh flower leis and paying homage to the legendary figure.

Those looking to pay the ultimate respect to Duke Kahanamoku hit the beach and grab a surfboard to surf the same waves that Duke surfed many years ago. Local beach boys, now prominent on the sand just like Duke, provide the expert knowledge to help visitors learn all they need to know to surf in Hawaii.

Due to the high volume of visitors traveling to Hawaii year round, our Hawaii tours and activities sell out quickly. In many cases, tours sell out weeks or months in advance. To ensure your spots on tour, we recommend reserving your tours today. Call our office or book online to take advantage of our low price guarantee today.


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