“Save Queen’s Surf!”

I remember that! I don’t know why I remember it, I just do. It’s an old childhood memory and, as I got older, I frequently thought about it and wondered where we were when people were trying to “Save Queen’s Surf.” While I was looking up something about the Natatorium, which is located next to the Waikiki Aquarium, I found the answer to this age old question of mine — the Queen’s Surf was a restaurant and nightclub that was nearby a beach where we used to go swimming when I was only about 4 or 5 years old.

View of Waikiki from the Diamond Head end

They must have made good cheeseburgers or something… or maybe I thought we were trying to save the beach. I don’t remember. All I know is that it was an important issue to this little girl — so much so that it has stuck with me all these years! As it turned out, that little girl, and a lot of other Honolulu residents, lost that battle. The restaurant was closed in 1969 and subsequently torn down in 1971.

Picnic with family

It was a perfect area to have a little family picnic and celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday. We just happened to be very close to the Natatorium on Monday, after the Great Aloha Run. It was also perfect timing too because, after 8.2 miles, I was hungry!


Okay, maybe this was not the healthiest of diets, but we had veggies too!

Shish kabob vegetables on the grill

In fact, there was tossed salad and some mushroom, zucchini and tomato kabobs — I don’t like tomatoes, but I love zucchini!

Beach Walk in Waikiki

While waiting for the food to cook, I just had to take a quiet saunter down the beach walk. I can imagine how beautiful this place must be at night.

Since we were so close to the Natatorium, I thought it would be a cool thing to write about. So, I decided to continue in that general direction.

While meandering towards the Natatorium, I passed a lady sitting and talking on her cell phone. I couldn’t help but notice the tattoo on her arm. I continued on for just a bit but then I stopped and went back to where she was sitting. I’m sorry, I just had to get a picture of those star fish! I’ve told you guys before, it’s all about the art!

Star Fish TattooI motioned to the lady that I wanted to get a picture of her arm. Without even flinching she turned a little so that these lovely star fish faced in my direction. I took pictures of her tattoo as she just sat comfortably and continued her phone conversation. This was obviously not the first time she has had this happen!

Anyway, on to the Natatorium. I know very little about it except that it is “The War Memorial” that was built to honor WWI veterans from Hawaii and the 100+ local lives that were lost in that war. Unfortunately, the Natatorium has been closed since 1980 or so because it is deteriorating and has been deemed unsafe.


It is a point of contention as many want to see it restored while many others want it torn down and the beach restored. I have no opinion myself except that if it is polluting the coastline, it needs to go. If not, we should preserve it in some form to memorialize its original purpose. Maybe they should just lose the crumbling bleachers, maintain the facade and clean up the swimming pool portion for schools and other organizations to use.

My mother used to participate in a lot of swimming meets there — around 1950 or so. My grandfather pushed her to be a champion swimmer — probably with the hopes that she would follow in his Olympic footsteps.

We had a lot of strong swimmers back in the days of Duke Kahanamoku. In the 1920 Summer Olympics, Duke Kahanamoku won the Gold Medal in the 100-meter freestyle; my grandfather, William White Harris, Jr., took the Bronze. Pua Kealoha took the silver in that same race and Warren Kealoha won the Gold in the 100-meter backstroke. Yep, we had a lot of strong swimmers.

  United States Duke Kahanamoku
United States (USA)
1:00.4 United States Pua Kealoha
United States (USA)
1:02.2 United States William Harris
United States (USA)

Someone was kind enough to provide Wikipedia with the above information and for that I thank them. Like I said, I’m sure my grandfather saw to it that Mom participated in several meets! The water wasn’t dirty then.

Even “The Duke,” according to an article I read, didn’t want to swim at the Natatorium in the later years. It’s unfortunate, but understandable. The Great War Society has some nice pictures and further explanations about the Natatorium.

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10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 HawaiiVacationGifts // Feb 25, 2008 at 4:47 am

    In the early mid 70’s my friends and I would go pole fishing in the natatorium at night! I don’t remember the name of the fish we caught but afterwards we would go home and eat fried fish and rice! Those were fun times, ahh, youth.

  • 2 TripTheLady // Feb 25, 2008 at 5:40 am

    Thank you for sharing such a lovely memory! I have never been to Hawaii but it is on my list of places to see before I die 😉

  • 3 Evelyn // Feb 25, 2008 at 5:58 am

    Really? What did those fish look like, HVG? Do you remember? There was some kind of a fish that a dad was pointing out to his little boy but now I can’t remember what the name of it was either. I asked my father-in-law about it (since he’s the fisherman in the family) and he knew about it and said it was a good eating fish to cook right there at the beach. Of course I don’t think starting a fire next to the Natatorium would have gone unnoticed. 🙂 Shucks! I should have paid more attention. Now, was that with or without shoyu and/or vinegar? 😉

  • 4 Dee // Feb 25, 2008 at 6:36 am

    Hi! I enjoyed your post. I saved you to my favorites a few weeks back and then forgot to check in on your blog…….


  • 5 Evelyn // Feb 25, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Thank you, Dee! I’m glad your remembered and I’m very glad you decided to visit now and then! 🙂

  • 6 Evelyn // Feb 25, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Hello TripTheLady!

    I was just checking out your 50 States post yesterday! I couldn’t find us… now I know why! We’ve got to fix that! 🙂 Thank you for dropping by and sharing your comment! I hope you “Travel” over often!

  • 7 Mike, BC // Nov 29, 2009 at 9:10 am

    I always wondered what happened to the Queen’s Surf, so I googled it and stumbled onto your blog. I was 11 in 1958 when I travelled with my recently-widowed mom to Waikiki for the first time. Stayed at the Breakers on Beach Walk and have stayed there on and off ever since. (One of these days there will be a ‘Save the Breakers’ campaign)…

    At some point some friends took us to the Queen’s Surf. What a great place! It was a nightclub right on the beach, kinda thatched as I remember, and it had a full Polynesian review. To this day I remember the Samoan fire dancer and the deafening sound of the Tahitian drums. I can also remember running onto the beach with some other kids when we got bored with adult conversation, and one kid showing me that if you stamped your foot in the wet sand it brought out the phosphorescence – gee, I haven’t done that since!

    Whenever we came to Waikiki we always went there, not least for the food. There were no ‘foodies’ then, and we all loved the new taste of ‘Polynesian’ cuisine, which meant plenty of pork and pineapple!

    In those days West Coasters were just discovering Waikiki, particularly Vancouverites. Air fares were coming down to where the middle class could afford them. Maui would be the next place to be discovered, but for the first few years Waikiki was magic. To this day, as I walk down Kalakaua, no matter how much they develop and redevelop, the magic is still there. Take a deep breath and it still smells the same – a mixture of sea and flowers and food unlike anywhere else on earth.

  • 8 Evelyn // Dec 9, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Hi Mike! Sorry, I almost lost your post! Thank you for your comment and for sharing those memories. What a wonderful comment! It’s all about the memories isn’t it?

    There are so many wonderful memories that just need to be shared more I think! So, come on back for a visit and make some more! 🙂

  • 9 Doug Dobransky // Aug 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

    In December of 1967, I was at the Queen’s Surf with my good friend Bill H, and just this morning for the first time I looked up the Queen’s Surf to see what happened to it. I had a great time there and am looking at this very moment at a Queen’s Surf paper cocktail napkin I took as a souvenir. Bill and I were on R&R from our tour in Vietnam, and as you can imagine, that place and that beach was a little heaven on earth for us during those 7 or 8 days.
    Nice to know other people remember it for their own reasons. Ours was very much needed.

  • 10 Evelyn // Aug 14, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I’m glad it was there for you at such an agonizing time, Doug! Thank you for sharing that! That is probably about the date of some of the memories written about in this post! Such a small world. Amazing!

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