In the late 19th century, Waikiki’s shoreline was mostly a day-use beach; overnight accommodations were scarce. Visitors were usually residents of Honolulu who would arrive via horse-drawn carriage, on horseback of in a canoe.
They came to enjoy gazing at the surf or taking a ‘sea bath’. As ‘sea bathing’ gained popularity in coastal areas of the US, as well and England, private bathhouses began to appear, there, as well as at Waikiki.
Bathhouses served customers with bathing suits and towel rentals, dressing rooms and each access to the beach. Initially, bathhouses served only day-use recreation of visitors, but eventually some of them began to offer overnight rooms.
At the Long Branch Bathhouse (named after a popular New Jersey resort) another form of recreation was established …
“Our reporter visited Long Branch Waikiki Tuesday and saw the working of the toboggan slide at that place. The following particulars regarding this inovation in bathing tactics were gathered on the spot and may be of interest to our readers.”
“The platform of the arrangement is reached by a flight of steps and the chute or slide is twenty inches wide. This narrow width gives a great momentum to the toboggan as it slides over the rollers for about 200 feet until the water is reached.”
“Only one toboggan starts at a time and it is placed level on the platform and afterwards its forepart is depressed by a lever to the angle of incline when it starts toward the water.”
“The toboggan itself is a wooden frame with a turn up end upon which the bather reclines and the pleasure is in the swiftness of motion over the chute.”
“When the bather reaches the water his toboggan skips on the surface for some distance from fifty to one hundred feet in proportion to the momentum acquired in the descent and then he has to swim ashore and propel his toboggan to a landing.”
“To a young person either male or female this pastime cannot be otherwise than delightful and it gives an excitement which ordinary bathing lacks. It is almost impossible that any accidents should occur on the chute as there is no chance to topple over nor is there any fear of the construction giving way.”
“Originally the toboggan is a Canadian Indian invention and was first brought into public notice at the Chaudiere Falls Province of Quebec where an ice slide forms every winter below the cataract.”
“Of late years the pastime has undergone many changes and improvements and from being an exclusively winter sport the same idea has been extended to summer and to any clime.”
“Mr Sherwood the proprietor of the Waikiki bathing establishment and chute informs us that the work of perfecting tho constructions of his unique slide and the neccessary buildings will cost him nearly 5000 and that he intends to make still more accommodations.
“There are now forty two dressing rooms for gentlemen and eighteen boudoirs for ladies. To these accommodations will be added a bathing platform 100 feet along the beach by 80 feet wide and a trapeze and spring board attached.”
“There will also be a restaurant and when the whole is finished we may expect to have occasionally to report aquatic feats of considerable magnitude.”
“It may be expected that pastimes of this nature will be enjoyed chiefly by young persons but there is no reason why the seniors should not participate in what is really an enjoyable and sanitary sport.”
“The price of each scoot on the toboggan is the remarkably low figure of five cents.” (Hawaiian Gazette, May 28, 1889)