All of these accomplishments made Duke the first person to be included in both the swimming and surfing Hall of Fames. He is also a member of the US Olympic Hall of Fame, with plenty of surfing competitions around the world named after him.
After his stint living in Southern California, he moved back to his beloved Honolulu. He used his experience as a military policeman to become Sheriff of Honolulu, being elected to 13 consecutive terms. During his time as Sheriff of Hawaii's biggest city, he appeared on multiple television programs.
His death in 1968, at the age of 77, inspired the island of Oahu to put on a funeral for the ages. His ashes were brought down the streets of Honolulu to Waikiki Beach accompanied by a massive police escort. His ashes were scattered as the massive crowd sang traditional Hawaiian songs.
You can still see Duke's influence all over the Hawaiian Islands, especially in Honolulu, where Dukes Canoe Club and Barefoot Bar bears his name. Not too far from the restaurant you'll find his bronze statue, where a muscular young Duke stands in front of his favorite ancient Hawaiian surfboard. Thousands visit this monument every day.
The bronze statue of Duke at the entrance of Waikiki Beach is a favorite tourist attraction for people all over the world, including local trolley and walking tours. The statue can get a bit crowded, so to beat the crowd make sure to show up early in the morning. Otherwise you'll be waiting in long lines in order to take a picture with The Big Kahuna himself.
But if you don't mind the crowd, you can take advantage of the location's iconic status. If you wait around the bronze Duke statue long enough, you'll likely see traditional Hawaiian dances breakout as an ode to the surfing legend. You'll also see waves of people gently place fragrant leis on Duke's outstretched arms. With a little boost, you might be able to place one around his neck.
But if you want to beat the crowds altogether, you can visit one of the lesser known statues of Duke. There is one in Nawiliwili Bay at the Duke's restaurant on the western island of Kauai. It is not far from the airport in Lihue and just a short walk from the cruise ship port. And while it may not be as impressive as the one in Honolulu, it is still a beloved landmark.
But most travelers say that you can really feel the presence of Duke at the iconic Duke Kahanamoku statue on Oahu. If you catch the statue at just the right angle, you can see the expansive white sand beach in the background, tumbling into the azure blue of the Pacific ocean. Take a second to reflect on the positive impact the man from Honolulu had on people all over the world. And always treat the statue with respect. You might even be able to feel his presence because the Duke himself has surfed there, bronze skin shining in the sun, smile on his face, and a massive Koa-wood surfboard under foot.
The Big Kahuna was a rare cultural figure, one that was able to bring people from different cultures together from all over the world. His stardom and effervescent personality made it easy for the American public to embrace Hawaii as its own, incorporating it as a state in 1959 at the end of Duke's life.
And every time you look out into the ocean and see people surfing, you can now think to yourself - they're cheating! They are doing it the easy way! Try Duke's way, using a 114-pound wooden board with no rudder.