Hawaii Calls

Rabbit Kekai, Makaha
Waikiki Surf Club, early '50s
Northwest Airlines ad, 1956
Gary Cooper, Waikiki, 1952. Photo: Clarence Maki
Tarzan Smith, right, Waikiki

Malibu was a great surf break, but it was never the ultimate surfers’ destination. It wasn’t tropical, or exotic, or gut-testing. In short, it wasn’t Hawaii. Every surfer worthy of the name, Malibu diehards included, spent a lot of time either reliving or planning their big trip to the Islands.

So did a lot of other people, especially Americans. Politically and economically, Hawaii was now closer than ever to the Mainland. This relationship between the two was deepened immeasurably by the exp...

Rabbit Kekai rode Queen's like Napoleon surveying the infantry: heels touching, hands cupped together at waist level, back straight, hips forward, head slightly cocked—the very model of mid-century Hawaiian surfing style.