Duke Kahanamoku

Honor Duke Kahanamoku Today

Today would be Duke Kahanamoku’s 130th birthday. Born on August 24, 1890, Duke immortalized the sport of surfing. He was also a five-time Olympic swimming medalist. Surfing has long played a role in Hawaiian culture and was once reserved exclusively for royalty.

Duke is remembered again today at the annual Duke’s Oceanfest, which takes place at Waikiki. The weeklong event, sponsored by the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, has been canceled for 2020.

Join with Duke virtually today.

Be part of the celebration of surfing and all things Hawaii by posting photos of yourself catching a wave or doing something athletic. Then post your photo on Facebook or Instagram with the special hashtag #DukesDay2020 or #DukesOceanFest and share the Aloha. How will you celebrate Duke’s Day 2020?

You can also watch this scaled-down ceremony held earlier today in Waikiki.


Facts about Duke Kahanamoku.

Born in Honolulu at Haleakala, home to Bernice Pauahi Bishop, he grew up with five siblings and learned to surf and swim at Waikiki. Duke attended the Kamehameha Schools, although he did not graduate because his family needed his support.

Lived for a while in Southern California, where he had roles in several movies.  Later Duke would appear in TV and film, including Mister Roberts in 1955, and was renowned in the Hollywood community.

Earlier, while in Newport Beach, in 1925 he rescued eight men from a capsized fishing vessel. In that tragic incident, 17 people drowned trying to save those on the boat. Duke used his surfboard to shuttle people to shore. The police chief said that it was “The most superhuman surfboard rescue act the world has ever seen.” After that incident, surfboards became a regular part of ocean rescues. 

Duke was also the Sheriff of Honolulu, Hawaii, serving from 1932 to 1961.

Duke Kahanamoku died of a heart attack on January 22, 1968, at the age of 77 and his ashes were buried at sea. At his funeral, beach boys sang Hawaiian songs, including “Aloha O.”

Statue pictured above. Honolulu commemorated his Waikiki Beach burial site in 1990 with the cast bronze statue. The statue has become a local shrine and tourist attraction both. His outstretched arms are adorned with fresh lei.

The featured image in our post is of Duke Kahanamoku, which Google used to honor the 125th anniversary of his birth just five years ago. See below.

Beat of Hawaii | Duke Kahanamoku

Beat of Hawaii © photos.

2 thoughts on “Honor Duke Kahanamoku Today”

  1. It is my hope that his spirit and legacy stirs something, especially in the young locals. I hope they are able to o see that Duke was sooo welcoming to all, locals and visitors. He embodied the true spirit of Aloha. He recognized that helping visitors of all languages, cultures and colors was so important for Hawaii. And that the importance wasn’t simply money driven. It was genuine. The spirit of Aloha is really needed right now. A little patience. A little kindness. It is the “cool thing” to do! You can welcome tourists AND be cool like Duke!

    Your legacy lives on.

  2. Duke used to have a business card that he handed out, it said….

    “Aloha” means “Love”
    In Hawaii we greet friends, loved ones or strangers with ALOHA which means with love.
    ALOHA is the key-word to the universal spirit of real hospitality which made Hawaii renowned
    as the world’s center of understanding and fellowship. Try meeting or leaving your brother nobles with ALOHA,
    you’ll be surprised by their reaction of ALOHA of LOVE.
    I believe it, and it is my creed.
    ALOHA TO YOU, Duke

    Timeless words from a truly great man .

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