When Duke Kahanamoku, Kenneth Winter and William ‘Knute’ Cottrell decided to form a boat club, one of the names they initially came up with for it was the ‘Very Lazy Surfers.’ They later settled on ‘Hui Nalu’ (the club of the waves, or surf club.) (Davis)
The club was loosely organized in 1905 and officially formed in 1911. (Walker) (Others suggest it was formed in 1908.) Based at the Moana Hotel in Waikiki, swimming was the primary activity of the club in the early years; it expanded into surfing and canoe paddling.
They met daily under the hau tree near the Moana Hotel and used the hotel’s basement bathroom for a changing room. They decided that dues were one dollar per year. ‘It was a poor man’s club, but it was made up of dedicated surfers.’ (Kahanamoku; Davis) Membership was by election.
(Founded before (1908,) Outrigger Canoe Club had previously snubbed Duke Kahanamoku, but later asked him to join. He accepted the invitation in large part because his good friend, George ‘Dad’ Center.) (Davis)
(Outrigger, the world’s oldest surfing organization, was a social club, as well as an athletic club; membership was almost entirely foreign-born haole, or white, and the ranks contained an ever-growing number of nonathletic Honolulu businessmen.)
Composed primarily of surfers of full or partial Hawaiian blood. Hui Nalu was a longtime rival to the 1908-formed Outrigger Canoe Club, the world’s oldest surfing organization.
The Outrigger was a social club as well as an athletic club; membership was almost entirely foreign-born haole, or white, and the ranks contained an ever-growing number of nonathletic Honolulu businessmen. Membership to Hui Nalu, in contrast, was by election, and the club, while social in its own way, was for athletes only. (Walker)
In 1915, Hui Nalu surfers opened lucrative beach concession businesses in Waikīkī. Through these concessions, Hui Nalu surfers found regular and profitable work and became known as Waikīkī beachboys.
The beachboys were lifeguards, bodyguards, instructors, entertainers, and tour guides for visitors in Waikīkī. For a relatively high price, they took customers out into their Waikīkī surf to ride waves on canoes and surfboards.
One beachboy recalled, “[You] could make as much as five dollars a day. Oh, boy, was that big money. . . . We go out and catch three waves. But we fill the boat up with as much as six paying customers. Six dollars!”
By the late 1920s and early 1930s, the beachboy concession evolved into a bigger business, catering to higher-paying customers, as some beachboys became constant companions/tour guides for visiting families and made very good money.
Louis Kahanamoku explained, “Us boys would go down the ship. And we’d buy leis for them. . . . We come out of there, twenty, thirty, forty bucks by the time we got out”. (Walker)
By the end of 1946, the two main original Waikiki surf clubs had changed considerably. The native Hui Nalu had limited its activities mostly to outrigger canoe racing.
The haole-influenced Outrigger Canoe Club had become more of an exclusive prestige-type establishment, “with a wide range of social and athletic interests.”
So, in 1947, the Waikiki Surf Club was formed for the same reasons that the other two had originally been put together. “Its purpose,” wrote surfing historian Ben Finney, “was to promote surfing as well as other Hawaiian water sports.”
“It provided board lockers and clothes changing facilities near the beach, for anyone who could pay the small initiation fee and monthly dues.” (Ian Lind)
Today, members of Hui Nalu O Hawai‘i share the vision ‘To come together as a family who shares and cares’ and mission ‘To promote and provide educational and personal achievement opportunities which strengthen family, community and individual relationships’.
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