1890 - 1899

  • August 24 1890, born in downtown Honolulu, first surviving child of Duke and Julia, full-blooded Hawaiians
  • Family moved to Waikīkī’s Kālia area
  • Enrolled in first grade at Waikīkī-kai elementary school
  • Kāhili bearer at Princess Ka‘iulani’s royal funeral

1903 - 1910

  • Transferred to Ka‘ahumanu Elementary School
  • Entered Kamehameha School for Boys
  • Member of Kamehameha School’s championship soccer team
  • Transferred to McKinley High School

1911 - 1920

  • Broke 3 freestyle world record in his first swim races, in Honolulu Harbor
  • Won Olympic gold medal and set world record for 100-meter freestyle,
    Stockholm; also won a silver medal on the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay team
  • Introduced surfing to U.S.’s Atlantic coast
  • Helped popularize swimming and surfing in California
  • Swam in exhibitions in about 30 mainland cities to raise money for Liberty Bonds for U.S. war effort. Boosted popularity of swimming. Reinforced reputation of Hawai‘i as pre-eminent in swimming.
  • Recommended surfing as an Olympic event
  • Antwerp Olympics: gold medals in 100-meter freestyle and 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay, fourth place in water polo

1924 - 1930

  • Helped popularize swimming and surfing in California
  • Paris Olympics, silver medal in 100-meter freestyle
  • Lived in Los Angeles. Played small parts in about 30 movies
  • Heroic board rescue of 8 drowning men at Newport Beach, California
  • Rode a monster wave 1-1/8 miles at Waikīkī, probably longest ride in modern times

1932 - 1940

  • Helped popularize swimming and surfing in California
  • Los Angeles Olympics, awarded bronze medal as alternate on the U.S. water polo team
  • Elected City and County of Honolulu Sheriff. Re-elected 12 times
  • August 2, married Nadine Alexander

1956 - 1960

  • Official representative at Melbourne Olympics
  • Sheriff position abolished when Hawai‘i achieved Statehood and government reorganized. Appointed Hawai‘i’s Ambassador of Aloha

1963 - 1969

  • Third visit to Australia to judge surf meets
  • Official guest at Tokyo Olympics
  • First person inducted into both the Swimming Hall of Fame and the Surfing Hall of Fame
  • First annual Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surf Meet, Sunset Beach
  • January 22, died in Honolulu at age 78; Waikīkī beachboy funeral
  • Plaque and bust dedicated at Huntington Beach, California

1984 - 1990

  • Posthumously inducted into U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
  • Statue dedicated at Waikīkī on centennial of his birth
  • Duke Kahanamoku Way dedicated at Rockaway Beach, New York


  • Statue dedicated at Freshwater, Sydney, Australia
  • Biarritz, France, Surf Festival named in his honor
  • First name inscribed in the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame
  • Identification plaques placed on Waikīkī statue on his birthday

Reprinted with permission from Sandra Hall