“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Honolulu in Honolulu County, Hawaii — Hawaiian Island Archipelago (Pacific Ocean)

Duke Kahanamoku


—Waikīkī Historic Trail —

Duke Kahanamoku Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 20, 2008
1. Duke Kahanamoku Marker
Inscription. Olympic swimming champion Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1986) spent much of his youth here in Kālia with his mother’s family, the Paoas. The family owned most of the 20 acres which the Hilton Hawaiian Village now occupies. It is said that it was here in Kālia that a husband waited patiently for the return of his wife who had been wooed away by a rival chief on Maui; hence, the name Kālia or “waited for.” Duke’s grandfather, Ho`olae Paoa, a descendant of royal chiefs, was deeded the land by King Kamehameha III in the Great Mahele of 1848. (The Great Mahele was a dividing of the lands among the king, the chiefs, and the commoners. It also allowed foreigners to own land in the kingdom for the first time.)

The Paoas were a large ‘ohana (family). More than 100 were living in the area at the time. The home in which Duke lived was located about where the former Hilton Dome stood for so many years. The families had their gardens and grew enough taro and sweet potatoes to meet their needs. Being excellent fishermen, they never were short of the bounties of the seaweed, squid, shrimp, crab, lobster and varieties of fish. Duke learned to swim in these waters the old-fashioned way: by being thrown into the water to sink or swim! He learned so well that in 1910 he broke the world’s record for
Duke Kahanamoku Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 20, 2008
2. Duke Kahanamoku Marker
the 50-yard sprint. In 1912 he was named to the U.S. Olympic team and won the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle. This area is also where he learned to become a champion surfrider and Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddler. Some say you can still feel the “mana” (energy or spirit) of Duke and the Paoas here on their former lands.

In 1925 Duke became a national hero when he used his surfboard to rescue eight fishermen from their sinking vessel in high seas off Newport Beach.
Erected by the City and County of Honolulu. (Marker Number 16.)
Location. 21° 16.883′ N, 157° 50.233′ W. Marker is in Honolulu, Hawaii, in Honolulu County. Marker is on Paoa Place west of Kalia Road, on the right. Click for map. It is at the end of Paoa Place, at the beach walk and near the public rest rooms. Marker is in this post office area: Honolulu HI 96815, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Rainbow Tower & Hilton Lagoon (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Rainbow Mural (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kālia Bay (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Story of Kālia (approx. 0.2 miles away); Kuroda Field
Duke Kahanamoku image. Click for full size.
Bishop Museum Collection
3. Duke Kahanamoku
This is the photo reproduced at the top of the marker.
(approx. ¼ mile away); Kaha ha ʻlo me nā Makani (approx. ¼ mile away); Kãlia Fishponds (approx. ¼ mile away); U.S. Prefabricated Pill Box (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Honolulu.
More about this marker. A photo of Duke standing with his surfboard is at the top of the marker. Two photographs reproduced on the marker are captioned “As a youth, Duke mastered surfing on his 16-foot long, 114 pound Koa surfboard.” and “Duke appeared in four Olympic competitions, his final one in 1932 on the US Waterpolo Team.”
Also see . . .  Duke Hahanamoku. “When Duke surfed, he made surfboards slide across wave faces without the—as yet to be invented—skeg. When he swam, his ‘Kahanamoku kick’ was so powerful that his body actually rose up out of the water, ‘like a speed boat with its prow up,’ boasted his brother Sargent. The first time he had really watched his brother swim for speed was at the Waikiki Natatorium, a salt-water swimming pool located on Diamond Head’s flank. The old timers told Sargent to watch his brother, that when he swam he created waves.
The View from the Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, October 20, 2008
4. The View from the Marker
When Duke swam there, Sargent saw the waves spread out and hit the sides of the pool. ‘And I mean they were big,’ he said, ‘so big that it seemed like they could be ridden with a surfboard’.” —Malcom Gault-Williams. (Submitted on November 1, 2008.) 
Additional keywords. Kalia, Hooale Paoa, Waikiki Beach
Categories. Notable PersonsSports
Duke Kahanamoku Marker image. Click for full size.
By Denise Boose, April 15, 2014
5. Duke Kahanamoku Marker
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,698 times since then and 73 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   3. submitted on .   4. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   5. submitted on , by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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