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Life of the Land: getting to know Teddy Bush, owner of Waikiki Beach Services

Waikiki Beach Services offers both private group and individual surf lessons. Waikiki Beach Services offers both private group and individual surf lessons. Photo courtesy Waikiki Beach Services

Swimming, surfing, fishing, diving, snorkeling, canoe paddling, stand-up paddleboarding—Teddy Bush has done it all and calls the ocean his second home.

Teddy Bush

Teddy Bush. Photo by Lauren Adelman

Talk story with this quintessential beachboy and he’ll tell you about his encounter with a tiger shark off Portlock; the time a giant wave smashed the canoe that he and a few malihini were paddling in uncharacteristically dangerous Waikīkī waters; or the fun he had as a young boy diving for coins tossed by tourists in the Ala Wai Canal, which back in the day was clean and swimmable.

After graduating from Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, Bush attended UCLA for a year, but his heart was far across the Pacific. In 1967, he returned to Hawai‘i and, following in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, Kim Wai, began working at Waikīkī Beach, initially giving surfing lessons, setting up umbrellas, and cleaning and raking the sand for Waikiki Beach Services. A decade later, he bought the company, which, founded in 1955, is Hawai‘i’s oldest beach service and surf school.

Now retired (he turns 75 in February), Bush no longer oversees day-to-day operations, but he still goes to the beach every morning to check the surf and greet staff and guests.

“It’s great to own a business that introduces visitors to water sports,” he says. “I tell them to enjoy the ocean but to be safe—remember it’s powerful and always respect it.”

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Starting prices for Waikiki Beach Services

  • Outrigger canoe surfing ($35)
  • Surfing and SUP lessons ($85)
  • Beach chair and umbrella rentals ($85)
  • Beachboy guide services ($325)
  • Private canoe charters ($300)
  • Private catamaran charters ($950)

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