Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

By Ellie Crowe
Illustrated by Richard Waldrep

Paperback: out of stock

Hardcover: out of stock


Growing up in Honolulu with the Pacific Ocean as his backyard, Duke Kahanamoku learned to swim and surf at a young age. By his early twenties, Duke's lightning-fast swimming won him a place on the 1912 United States Olympic team and a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle race. Over the years Duke struggled with racism and financial troubles, but by the end of his twenty-year Olympic career, he was a six-time medal winner.

Although a swimming champion, Duke's passion was surfing. He traveled the world, introducing surfboarding to Australia and the east and west coasts of the United States. Considered the father of modern surfing, Duke spread his love of the ocean and Hawai’i wherever he went.

Throughout his life Duke Kahanamoku was beloved for his modesty, sportsmanship, and amazing skill in the water. Today he remains a legendary waterman and an inspiration to all to live life with aloha.

aloha: love, kindness, grace, affection, compassion; also traditional Hawaiian greeting or farewell

For further exploration of themes and connections, pair these field trip and activity ideas with Surfer of the Century.

About the Creators

Thumb_thumb Ellie Crowe - Author

ELLIE CROWE has written several award-winning children's books, as well as travel/cultural books on Hawai'i. Her titles have been recognized with the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and on the Texas Bluebonnet Master List. Crowe first heard of Duke Kahanamoku while living in Australia. When she moved to Hawai'i, she found Duke was a hero there too. She lives in Honolulu with her family. You can visit her online at

Thumb_thumb Richard Waldrep

RICHARD WALDREP's paintings honoring subjects as varied as the Olympic Games, American music, and history have appeared on thirty-nine US postage stamps. He has also created award-winning illustrations for editorial, publishing, advertising, and corporate clients including Men's Health, U.S. News and World Report, the Washington Post, and Parker Brothers. He lives in Sparks, Maryland.