Waikiki Beach Story

The name Waikīkī means “spouting fresh water” in the Hawaiian language, for springs and streams that fed wetlands that once separated Waikīkī from the interior. The area was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1700-1800’s who enjoyed surfing (naked) on 18-ft wooden longboards. In 1901 the first main hotel (Moana Hotel, now known as The Moana Surfrider Hotel) opened. In 1927 The Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened… both hotels catered to the rich and famous… placing the Hawaiian Islands on the map of tourism world-wide.

The history of Waikiki Beach and surfing cannot be told without mention of the Waikiki Beach Boys. The “glory days” of the Beach Boys were during the 1920’s to the 1930’s on the famous stretch of beach from the Moana Hotel to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Tourists, especially wealthy celebrity figures such as Nelson Rockefeller, Douglas Fairbanks, Shirley Temple, and Doris Duke, began to visit Waikiki. The Beach Boys welcomed the visitors, taught them surfing and canoeing, and entertained them. The Beach Boys’ spirit of aloha, the spirit of “unconditional giving,” and “ocean is life” is at the heart of a true Waikiki Beach Boy. This persona and lifestyle made a huge impact on the visitors who came to the islands.

The most famous Waikiki Beach Boy was Duke Kahanamoku, “The King of Waikiki Beach” and “The Father of Surfing” was born in 1890 and raised in Waikiki. Duke was a true waterman, surfer, canoe paddler, record breaking swimmer, and one of the founders of the Beach Boy Club; Hui Nalu. Duke later became Hawaii’s unofficial “Ambassador of Aloha”. Throughout Duke’s life he had an Olympic swimming career, was in 28 Hollywood movies, and worked various odd jobs, but always returned to the ocean. In his later years, Duke became an iconic figure that will forever embody the true spirit of Aloha. 

Check out this video segment from the Video Postcard of Oahu... It features the story of World-Famous Waikiki Beach, history of surfing, Duke Kahanamoku & Diamondhead with actual film footage of Waikiki dating back to 1906!