Three little boys in green shirts and board shorts stand by a life guard station
Text By
Kylie Yamauchi
Images By
John Hook

For the ʻOhana

Family man Duane DeSoto, a waterman who aims to raise appreciation for and awareness of the ocean, shares his sun and surf favorites for all ages.

Duane DeSoto frequents the ocean more than most people. The Mākaha local has earned the respected title of waterman through years of competing on the World Surf League Longboarding Tour and voyaging on the illustrious Polynesian seafaring canoe Hōkūleʻa. As the CEO and founder of Nā Kama Kai, a nonprofit he formed in 2008 to teach Hawaiʻi’s keiki about ocean safety, DeSoto can be found leading monthly beach clinics around Oʻahu. One of the purposes of these clinics is to introduce keiki to water activities like canoe paddling and surfing through which they can gain a greater respect and understanding for the ocean. The father of seven shared with Living his recommended spots for all members of the ʻohana (family) to enjoy the ocean, land, and community on Oʻahu’s south shore.

men in orange long sleeve shirts and board shorts holding hands in a chain fashion

The Nā Kama Kai family.

Three little boys in green shirts and board shorts stand by a life guard station

Nā Kama Kai is a nonprofit focused on educating the islands’ keiki about ocean awareness and safety.

Canoes Surf Break
Marked by the iconic Duke Kahanamoku statue, the surf break called Canoes offers a longboarding experience for locals and visitors. The waters upon which Kahanamoku pioneered the art of surfing in the early 1900s provide fun waves that are perfect for beginners. As its name suggests, this break attracts outrigger canoes, which for more than a century, and to this day, have the right of way on its waves. For DeSoto, surfing here is following in the legacy of Kahanamoku and the beachboys who pioneered surfing and ocean safety. “Take a surf lesson to get to know our modern beach boys,” he says. Some surf schools like Big Wave Dave Surf Company, Faith Surf School, and the Waikiki Star Beachboys offer surfboard rentals.
Kalakaua Avenue & Uluniu Avenue
Nā Kama Kai is a nonprofit focused on educating the islands’ keiki about ocean awareness and safety with fun still to be had for the entire family across Waikīkī’s beaches and surf breaks.
Duke Kahanamoku Beach
“Duke Kahanamoku beach has an incredible view of Diamond Head and offers all the luxury you expect to see in Waikīkī,” DeSoto says. The partially enclosed beach has views of the entire Waikīkī strip all the way to Diamond Head crater. Every Friday night, the calm waters reflect a dazzling display of colors from a fireworks show. In September and October, thousands of people flood the beach to witness the finishes of nearly 100 outrigger canoes competing in the Nā Wāhine o Ke Kai and Molokaʻi Hoe races.
At the end of Fort DeRussy Beach Park boardwalk
Kids having fun at the beach
Duke Kahanamoku Beach is named in honor of the the father of modern surfing.
Koko Head Cafe
This brunch spot amid a collection of eateries near Wai‘alae Avenue in Kaimukī offers DeSoto’s favorite fusions of local and Asian cuisine. “Gotta try the Dumplings All Day Wong,” DeSoto says, referring to the dish named for chef Lee Anne Wong. Wong, who is from New York, experiments with beloved Hawaiʻi foods to create dishes like the Koko Moco (a play on the local dish loco moco), which features a beef patty, garlic rice, mushroom gravy, a sunny-side-up egg, and tempura kimchi for a touch of spice. For those craving a dish typically not served during brunch, the Mama’s Udon with local cabbages, onions, scallions, bacon, and a soft poached-egg bonito is available all day.
1145 12th Ave.
Diamond Head hiking trail
Hiking Diamond Head is one of O‘ahu’s most popular attractions. Image by Christian Navarro.
Diamond Head State Monument
Even though he knows of more secluded trails, DeSoto enjoys the easily accessible hike up Diamond Head Crater, or Lēʻahi, which is popular with tourists and locals alike. The trail transitions between cement, rock, and stairs, and takes visitors to a railed-in lookout point with stunning views of Honolulu and surf at south-shore breaks like Tonggs. The well-marked trail is perfect for beginners but also attracts experienced hikers who run the entire incline. Visitors bear in mind that this normally crowded trail (and its small parking lot) will test their patience. But all good things take time, and the view from the top is worth the wait.
Diamond Head Road & 18th Avenue
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