At Royal Hawaiian, a look at Waikiki’s bygone ‘beach boys’

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The Waikiki Beach Boys in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1946.An exhibition of rarely seen photographs, featuring Waikiki’s legendary “beach boys,” and a collection of historical Matson tourism advertisements will open to the public July 9 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort in Waikiki.

Titled “Waikiki Beach Boys,” the free show is a partnership between the Matson Navigation Co. and the Royal Hawaiian showcasing more than 40 large canvas prints of iconic watermen in front of the historic hotel, including Chick Daniels, Sam Kahanamoku, Pua Kealoha, Panama Dave and Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic gold medal swimmer and renowned Hawaiian surfer.

A Matson Navigation Company brochure from 1912.“You’ll see the beach boys engaged in activities that include everything connected to the ocean: surfing, outrigger canoe riding, body surfing and surfboard water polo,” said Lynn Blocker Krantz, a licensing and product development official for Matson Archives. “Several of the beach boys also played the ukulele and were excellent musicians, and even composed songs.”

Matson built the Royal Hawaiian hotel in 1927, looking to provide luxury accommodations for visitors the company was then transporting from the U.S. mainland to Oahu’s Aloha Tower aboard its fleet of Matson Line cruise ships, including the famous S.S. Lurline.

Along with the beach boy images, captured by Matson photographers over the company’s four-decade passenger ship and hotel era, the Royal Hawaiian exhibition will feature a number of Matson Lines advertisements and artwork from the 1920s and ’30s, featuring stylized Waikiki beachfront and ocean imagery from the era.

“Waikiki Beach Boys” will be on display in the Royal Hawaiian’s Coronet Lounge through Dec. 31. Visit www.royal-hawaiian.com.

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