More on Buttons Kaluhiokalani…

Checkout Buttons’ surf school on the North Shore at Haleiwa.

A True Hawaiian Legend

Buttons Kaluhiokalani was born March 30th, 1958, to a military father and a Hawaiian mother. He was raised on the North Shore until age 5, when jobs in the country became scarce and his mother moved him and his brother to town. At age 7, Buttons learned to surf in Waikiki following the lead of his Uncle Buddy, a Vietnam Vet who rode a 10′ log at “Ins and Outs.” By age 9, Buttons and his brother were each carrying one end of the 10′ board, hoisting it over their heads as they made their way to the beach. This, along with a round nose single fin wooden Piper board, were the boards Buttons was riding as he developed his style as a young surfer in Waikiki.

If you would like to read more, check out his site and the history of Buttons…

Jay Watson
Surf Icon: Buttons Kaluhiokalani

I had the honor of photographing pro surfer, icon, and North Shore legend Buttons Kaluhiokalani at his home break in Oahu, Hawaii. Upon first meeting Mr. Kaluhiokalani he was washing sand off his feet and stowing away a surfboard from his morning session. It was a fitting first impression. There is a tradition in Hawaii when you visit someone’s home that you should bring a gift. Food or drink is always welcome so Jamie and I brought a chocolate haupia cream pie from Ted’s Bakery, a North Shore favorite for both locals and tourists.

My pie-hole would have to wait for that chocolate haupia cream (on our second trip back to Ted’s later that day). We sat for 30 minutes talking with Buttons in his living room and getting acquainted. I was warmly referred to over the phone and now in person as “Brotha Jay.” The entire shoot only lasted 2 hours, but he treated us like we had known him for years. How cool was that? As cool as getting to photograph a portrait of one of my favorite surfers in front of his home break. The images below are of Buttons at a spot known as “Backyards.”

Checkout Jay’s Blog and link to the LiquidSalt article.  Jay’s got some great photos!




Jim Caldwell
Redondo Beach