As a little kid, we’d go down to Waikiki Beach and visit my grandmother at the Uluniu Swimming Club.
Back in those times, it seemed like it was a place only grandmothers went; from my sub-four-foot perspective, the place was packed with old ladies.
It figures, Uluniu was originally founded as the Women’s Auxiliary of the Outrigger Canoe Club.
The facility was right on Waikiki Beach between the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Moana Hotel, next door to the old location of the Outrigger Canoe Club.
I remember the hau-covered trellised walkway into the club.
Uluniu started in Waikiki in 1909; it was located in a grove called Helumoa (they say there were 10,000 coconut trees; in 1795, King Kamehameha I established a home in the Helumoa coconut grove.)
The Women’s Auxiliary provided women and girls with a recreational environment, away from the men’s club.
In 1925, the Club separated from the Outrigger and became the Uluniu Women’s Swimming Club, accepted male spouses as non-voting members, and sponsored swimming programs, meets and competitions with trophies sought by local high schools.
The Swanzy Cup, named for Julie Judd Swanzy, the first club president, was given to individuals, mostly for high school swimmers.
The Uluniu Bowl trophy was awarded to teams, and was won so many times by the Punahou School team that the Club has given it on permanent loan to the school.
In 1965, the Club changed its name for the third time to the Uluniu Swimming Club and admitted men as voting members.
The club no longer has a place at Waikiki; its last day on Waikiki Beach was June 26, 1968.
In the 1970s, the club purchased the present clubhouse property in Lāʻie, overlooking a large coconut palm-lined lawn extending to the beachfront.
Members and their guests can stay at the clubhouse, “Kaiwao” (literally, “inland of the sea;”) it’s located just past the Polynesian Cultural Center.
It’s actually a beach house used by members as an overnight-retreat. With about 100 members in the club, members share responsibility of management and care for the house.
In 2008, about five-decades after first visiting Uluniu as a little kid, I joined the Uluniu Swimming Club; we enjoy our retreats to the beach house.
The images are of my grandparents and my mother enjoying Uluniu in the old days on Waikiki Beach; my mother is about the same age I was when I first went with her to see my grandmother at Uluniu (the Royal Hawaiian is in the background.)
I have also included some other images of Waikiki Beach in and around the old Uluniu location (between the Royal Hawaiian and Moana hotels,) as well as a couple modern shots of the clubhouse in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.