Observations About the Duke Kahanamoku Statue

Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Observations About the Duke Kahanamoku Statue

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to meet a gentleman by the name of Joseph Correa. Among other things, he’s been very active in restoring Hawaii’s shoreline and seawalls using native Hawaiian plant species. That’s an interesting enough subject in itself, however, as we were talking, we got off into a very interesting topic about the Duke Kahanumoku statue. It turns out he knows a lot of interesting things about this famous memorial to the legendary surfer. In fact, he was actually the person that delivered the statue where it currently rests today.

He pointed out to me that it’s common knowledge that Duke is not facing the ocean but instead the hotels across the street. This was done so that when people took pictures the ocean would be behind the statue. What a lot of folks don’t know is there are some unusual irregularities with statue that most people won’t notice.

The first thing is the actual shape of the surfboard itself. Joseph says the curvature is going the wrong way and should be the opposite direction. Some say there should be no curvature at all because the boards Duke used were made of balsa wood and had no curves in the first surboards.

Another interesting observation that Joseph makes, is that in the early days, there was no wax to keep surfers on their boards. To solve the problem of slipping off the board, surfers would carve scratches into the balsa wood which would allow for a better grip for the feet when riding waves. If you look closely at the Duke, Kahanumoku Statue you’ll see the scratches on the bottom of the board. If Joe’s observations are correct, that means that the surfboard is actually backwards and the scratches are on the wrong side of the board.

While this is hardly earth shattering news you may want to take a look at at it yourself when you visit Wakiki. The statue sits right across the street from the Hyatt Hotel and if you want to have some fun you can actually wave at a camera which is broadcasting live 24/7 in front of the statue. People from all over the world call up their friends on their cell phones and wave at the camera.