When people think of surfing in Hawaii, most think of the fabled North Shore of Oahu, but the actual birthplace of modern surfing is on the other side of the island, about 40 miles south in tourist-packed Waikiki.
Along Kalakaua Avenue, across from the ABC store on Uluniu, the 9-foot tall bronze statue of famed Duke Kahanamoku—standing in front of his surfboard, arms outstretched, always covered in fresh leis and flanked by honorary Hawaiian spears—marks the spot where Duke and the Waikiki Beachboys (no relation to the band) popularized the sport previously reserved for royalty. Despite his regal name, Duke was not a Duke. He was born Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, his name a given name and not a royal title.
Not to say that Hawaiian royalty didn’t surf these Waikiki spots. To the contrary, Queen’s Beach was popular with at least two royals; Queen Kaahumanu (1772-1832) and Queen Lili’uokalan (1838-1917). Incidentally, fans of The Brady Bunch may remember Queen’s Beach as the beach where Greg Brady competed in a fateful surf contest. Barry Williams, who did his own stunts for the episode, said that his wipeout in the episode was much more dangerous than it seemed. He nearly went face-first into the sharp coral reef where the waves of Queen’s Beach break.
Just north of Queen’s Beach you’ll find a spot called Canoes, where Robert took this photo. Canoes is one of the most beginner-friendly surf spots areas in Waikiki. It’s not surprising that Duke Kahanamoku and the Beach Boys (again, not the band) would give surf lessons here.
Robert was attracted to the variety of boards in the water on this day. “All sorts of people surf Canoes. It’s pretty crowded here and can get crazy. Longboards, shortboards, paddleboards and yeah, even canoes, all smashed together.”