Beach 38th Street/Duke Kahanamoku Way

Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968), also known as "The Duke" was one of Hawaii's best-known athletes, but he may not be well known outside the surfing community. Born in 1890, Kahanamoku is known as the father of modern surfing - but he is legendary in the Rockaways, where he visited briefly in 1912. Ask almost any Rockaways surfer and you will get the same account: the Duke demonstrated surfing here in 1912, putting the Rockaways on the world surfing map for good.

At age 21, he entered his first organized swimming competition using a new stroke now called the American crawl to win easily. In 1912, he arrived in California and introduced surfing. Kahanamoku was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1912, winning gold and silver medals in Stockholm. He was also on the Olympic teams of 1920, 1924 and 1928, and holds the distinction of winning gold medals in 100-yard freestyle in two different Olympics, 1912 and 1920. In his native Hawaii, Kahanamoku was elected sheriff for nine consecutive terms by the people of Honolulu. He also acted in a number of Hollywood movies. His street in the Rockaways is a major access road to a part of the beach that has been set aside for surfing.


Gil Tauber, "NYC Honorary Street Names," accessed June 15, 2022,

John W. Roberts, "Duke Kahanamoku, Father of Surfing," The Wave, October 1, 2021,

Worth, Robert F., "Rockaways Journal; Of a Local Legend, Surfing, and How to Honor the Past," NY Times, April 12, 2004,