Kahanamoku Brothers




The little stretch of Kuhio Beach was "Our Waikiki". The rest was off-limits - kapu - exclusive to guests of The Royal Hawaiian, Halekulani, and Ala Moana hotels, and members of the Outrigger Canoe Club.

The Outrigger Canoe Club, smack in the middle of Waikiki, was where board surfers hung out. Members were rich haoles mainly, Punahou School types, and they could store their boards there. Exceptions were the Hawaiian Beachboys who entertained the tourists. And of course Duke Kahanamoku was a celebrity fixture. They could keep their boards at the hotels where they worked. We used to envy the blond Punahou boys and occasional girls on their big boards.

Boards then were about ten-feet long and weighed about 150 pound, solid plank, or built-up plywood. You couldn't carry one along with you. There was a storage shed at the edge of Kuhio Beach, but it was for the Beach Boys and those with connections. You'd be real old before your chance for a spot came along. Regular Hawaiian and Local brahs with a Model A Ford could strap his surfboard on top of the car and go to where the waves were. But this was a rare bird who had that kind of money.

So for us surfing meant body surfing and Waikiki was just fine for this. The beach was not crowded then. We would also run along the beach to sand surf. Which meant to wait for a wave to splash to shore, run fast as you can, throw your body on a few inches of receding wave and skim along. You'd run into tourists if you tried that today.

J. Arthur Rath, 2008