Ambassador of Aloha, Surf Legend and Spirit Guide of Waikiki: Dane Kealoha

Ambassador of Aloha, Surf Legend and Spirit Guide of Waikiki: Dane Kealoha

This past fall, legendary big wave rider, world champion surfer and Hall of Famer Dane Kealoha opened his Surf Academy in the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Waikiki. The transition from competitor, to soul surfer to teacher has been a long and arduous journey for
Kealoha, not without hardship. But with a steady stream of clients and a network of would-be surfers who keep in touch with him year-round (from across the globe), Kealoha is proving that the stoke of surfing transcends money, business and change. For Kealoha, it's all about
"the love" for people.

We sat down with Kealoha for an exclusive one-on-one interview, where he voiced his thoughts on the changes in Waikiki over the last half-century, the business of surfing, and one man's will to change the spirit of a resort town that was once trees, shacks and hukilaus.

B on Hawaii:  You were a championship wave rider in the 1970s and 80s. How has the vibe surrounding surfing changed since then?

Dane Kealoha: In the past 20 years the business of surf lessons in Waikiki has gotten to the point of misrepresentation. Most people do it for the money, not for the sport. Not for the love of people or friendship. They're not considering how they're treating people.

B on Hawaii:  That doesn't sound like the vibe Waikiki should be putting forward.

Dane Kealoha:  You have to understand, I watched my father build most of these hotels. We've seen the transformation right here from homes and trees, to hotels and condos. The aloha spirit on the beach has changed. This entire resort town was built on the love and aloha of the beach boys—who drew people in from around the world—with the music, the bonfires, the booze and the great time. Word got out, and kings and queens were followed by movie stars.  Those with influence in the world started coming en mass. Word of mouth led to Hawaii being "the place to go".
      I think we have a lot more to offer, because of the beauty of the mountains and ocean. Now people realize it's also a great mixture of people, all tied in to this one little place. I think through the ocean and surf we can turn people back on to the love that this place
was founded upon.

B on Hawaii:  What do you see as your "role" here in Waikiki?

Dane Kealoha:  I am trying to bring the Aloha Spirit back in to surfing in Waikiki. Like the old beach boys back in the day, Duke Kahanamoku and them, who did it out of love, friendship and hospitality that stretched around the world, I simply want to do exactly what they did. Spread the message of love to all kinds of people through an experience in the ocean.

B on Hawaii:  Are there still people that come to Hawaii—or Waikiki, specifically—to feel that stoke of surfing and wind up soaking up some real aloha?

Dane Kealoha:  The word "aloha" stretches around the world. There's a spiritual connection to the creation of this world, and it's something we can see in the beauty around Hawaii every single day. The way I instruct people to surf, they come out with a big smile on their face.

B on Hawaii:  Can you compare winning a surf competition to what it's like to teach someone to stand up on a wave?

Dane Kealoha:  What I do today can't compare to my greatest win in a surfing competition. The experience I have constantly one-on-one or with a family—the joy on their faces—there's nothing can compare to that. It's way deep. On a daily basis? A contest is over in one day. This goes on day in and day out. It lasts forever. The wellness of battling a board out in the water, paddling in to a wave, working hard to surf—you feel fitter when you get out of the water than when you went in. Mentally, spiritually, physically—it's all there. To see a person get up on a wave—when they were doubting themselves the whole way out, and then stand up and ride a wave and look at me with this expression on their face—I would do it for free if I could.

Dane Kealoha Surf Academy at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa
2 Hour lessons are Monday through Friday, $100 per person
Go to or call (808) 924-3263.

"The experience I have constantly, whether one-on-one, or with a family, and the joy on their faces—there's nothing that can compare to that. It's way deep." – Kealoha