Beachboys made their appearance in Waikiki as part of the Hawaiian watersports revival in the early 20th century. While their livelihood came from giving surf instructions and outrigger canoe rides, their lifestyle encompassed everything connected to the ocean and beaches. Skilled at surfing and steering a canoe, they could also read the water and weather conditions, they knew the tides, winds and currents and they were familiar with the many different types of limu (seaweed) and fish. Many were expert fishermen and made their living fishing in the tourism off-season.
The first beachboys arrived with the 1901
opening of the Moana Hotel. Edward ("Dude," pronounced "Dudie") Miller arranged with the hotel to open a beach concession and by 1906
, the hotel was promoting surfing and canoeing to potential guests. Miller was a champion surfer, the first captain of Hui Nalu, an excellent spear fisherman and a gifted musician. He pulled most of his beachboys from the ranks of Hui Nalu and established a strict code of conduct for them: no drinking, no gambling, no hands straying over female tourists. His boys wore uniforms, were clean shaven and they kept the beach clean and safe. For many years, Miller's right hand man was Lukela "Old Man John D." Kaupiko. Kaupiko eventually took over Miller's concession and was head beachboy for many years. He also coached Hui Nalu teams to many championships and his students were among the best canoe steersmen.
, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, owned by Matson Lines, opened and Waikiki became a destination for the rich and famous. One of the most charismatic beachboys, Chick Daniels, was head of beach services at the hotel and in many ways defined the beachboy era with his generosity, skill and fun-loving ways. Hundreds of beachboys plied the sand over the years; a few of the most memorable were Blue Makua Sr., Turkey Love, Sam Kahanamoku, Rabbit Kekai, Steamboat Mokuahi, and Panama Dave.
The Waikiki Beach Patrol formed in 1934
under the auspices of the Outrigger Canoe Club. Bill Mullahey started the concession. Later it was taken over by Louis "Sally" Hale who ran it for many years.
World War II put a damper on tourism and beach activities. Many beachboys took other jobs or joined the military. Following the war, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel spruced itself up and Outrigger Beach Services operated as the only concession at Waikiki. Beachboy jobs became more business-like and less about having a good time. Over time the trend continued as more tourists with limited budgets arrived. Earl Akana's Hale Auau Surfboards opened in the `50s
at Kuhio Beach with beachboys who definitely had a more commercial bent and were known to hustle customers. Other freelance beachboys started stealing business wherever they could. The old time beachboy era ended in the 1960s
with the advent of jet travel, Matson's sale of its hotel properties, the Outrigger Canoe Club's move a mile down the beach toward Diamond Head, and Chick Daniels’ retirement from the Royal Hawaiian.