Hawaii travel: Exclusive Outrigger club we never hear about

URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL

One of the world’s most exclusive clubs that we never hear about is exactly what you would think it is.

Hidden somewhat in the iconic 3.2km Waikiki Beach stretch, one club captures everything about what it is to be a Hawaiian.

It is a mix of paradise, opulence, water sport and Aloha — the term regularly misunderstood in English that actually describes an ideology that love and fellowship shines through from the very essence of one’s spirit.

One man above all others has been identified as the “Ambassador of Aloha” — and his complex relationship with the exclusive Outrigger Canoe Club — is a perfect representation of the island nation’s story.

His name is Duke Kahanamoku – a man sometimes referred to as “The Lost American”.

Born in Waikiki in 1890, Kahanamoku is described by those who know his story as an athlete the likes of which the world will never see it again – simultaneously the Kelly Slater and Michael Phelps of his time.

The famed aquatic freak is best known for his countless world records, three Olympic gold medals and his position as the so-called godfather of surfing.

The Duke’s influence on the island nation is easy to see when you get a sneak peak behind the scenes of the club itself.

The Outrigger Canoe Club’s prickly past with its most famous member is an important symbol of his stature as the person that the times demanded during those extraordinary years.

The Club, was at the time a white-person only organisation. Kahanamoku was refused membership until 1917.

He is now celebrated as the cornerstone of the club – something that has been achieved with none of the ugly past being buried.

At any different time strolling through the beach front club you will find Olympians, professional athletes and water sport icons. Six-time surfing world champion Carissa Moore and Aussie Ironman icons Grant Kenny and Trevor Hendy are among those that frequent the club.

What you won’t find is the general public. The sand out the front of the club, might look similar to the rest of Waikiki beach with racks of boards and umbrella settings, but don’t be fooled – this is hallowed turf.

The Outrigger Canoe Club has just a few thousand active members and thousands on its waiting list, which extends for several years. It’s no secret that you need an insider to have any real hope of getting in – and it is not uncommon that prospective members are “black-balled” if the club’s hierarchy have any concerns about prospective members not adhering to the club’s ethos which is described as “a place where good fellowship and aloha prevail and where the sports of old Hawaii shall always have a home”.

It is extraordinary times for the club, which is rumoured to be facing a battle to keep its prized spot on the Waikiki water front with a lease that reportedly runs out in 2050.

News.com.au was given a rare inside look at the club and a private canoe surf ski session paddling in from the Waikiki surf spot affectionately known as “Old Man’s” with former Olympian Mark Haines.

Paddling in on the outer reef break, dropping snug into the pocket of a 10-foot wave is the sort of experience vacationers travel around the world for – and why millions keep returning to Waikiki year after year.

While the waves are biggest, best, and most consistent during summer, June-September, Waikiki has the potential to see surf at any time during the year. Whether you are a longboarder, a shortboarder, experienced, a novice, or a first-timer, Waikiki has a number of breaks that suit all abilities.

But as you have read above, there is much more to Hawaii than waves – and now is the perfect time to go.

Ugly, secret dispute behind Emmy film

While the outside world has largely forgotten the man, his legacy is finally being shared with the world in an Emmy-nominated film that has been plundering awards at international film festivals this year.

One of the men at the centre of the ‘Waterman’ documentary, associate producer Billy Pratt, says it all with a straight face, not a hint of hyperbole.

“The man was a god,” Pratt said.all goo

“The guy was simultaneously the Kelly Slater and Michael Phelps of his generation. He was the biggest f***ing badass on the planet.”

Pratt has told news.com.au about the private battle that has gone on behind the scenes for the film that will be up for an award in the outstanding historical documentary category at the 44th Emmy Awards in January.

Despite Kahanamoku’s reverence in the country, the rights to his name has been a distasteful mess in recent years with extended family members in a long-running legal dispute with various companies that have controlled the intellectual property to the legendary surfer.

Producers of the Waterman have had to find a way to navigate the murky waters.

“In Hawaii we call it Kuleana, it means responsibility. It’s not just bout getting things right, but it’s also about sharing the Aloha spirit,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of fact that somebody, a business person, had an opportunity to buy the rights and Duke had no issue with it. The brand itself, he didn’t create it, the brand created it.

“However it went down, it is what it is. Our hope is that we share and express the spirit of Aloha and those that own the intellectual property rights, they too will see the reason and the power for this significant individual, for his power to be perpetuated here and around the world.

“Fortunately the owners do agree and that’s why we were allowed to make the film and share so many glorious images of duke, courtesy of Malama Pono (the parent company that controls the rights).”

How to fly

National carrier Hawaiian Airlines had its own team at the Duke’s Ocean Festival — made up of pilots and staff — another investment in the local community.

Hawaiian Airlines has five weekly flights from Sydney to Honolulu at a convenient night time flight that gets you on the ground in the middle of the day Hawaiian time.

The Covid pandemic ultimately resulted in the Airlines’ Brisbane route being shut down, but the demand for travel to the island paradise is on the rise and there are rumours the Airline could be making a move to offer direct flights from Melbourne.

Where to stay

One of the best spots to keep an eye out for is the snazzy, new-look Outrigger Waikiki Reef Beach Resort.

With one of the most stunning ocean views you’ll ever find, an $80 million renovation, completed in 2022, has turned the resort into a Pacific Ocean wonderland.

And that is just a taste of the magical island of Oahu — and the real treasure is the people who want you to be there.

“I just saw a beautiful quote regarding Maui that drove me to tears,” Pratt says.

“The quote was, ‘Aloho will never burn’.”

It won’t.

This writer travelled to Hawaii as a guest of Hawaiian Airlines

Leave a Comment