Eddie Aikau

by Mitch Krenz from San Diego, California in United States

132006Memorial Plate of Eddie Aikau on Hokule'aWaka moana [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Joseph Campbell once said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." The sacrifice of one’s life for the greater good exemplifies true heroism. One admirable individual’s story exhibits this true heroism significantly. Born on the island of Maui in 1946, Eddie Aikau was a humble, quiet man who quickly earned a reputation for courage. Regarded as one of the greatest Hawaiian surfers of all time, Eddie Aikau was one of the few gifted surfers who rode "mountains," the vast winter waves of Waimea Bay. With determination shared by only the most profound athletes, Eddie surfed with a deep passion (“About Eddie Aikau”). His adeptness as a big-wave surfer and his love for the ocean gave him the motivation to become the first lifeguard of Waimea Bay, one of the most dangerous beaches in Hawaii (“Eddie Aikau”). There Eddie saved hundreds of lives, becoming the Honolulu City and County “Lifeguard of the Year” in 1971 (“About Eddie Aikau”). In 1978, Eddie made the ultimate sacrifice, and gave his life to save the crew of the voyaging boat Hokule’a (“Eddie Aikau”). Eddie Aikau's story inspires people to help others because of his dedication as a lifesaver, his resilience against challenges, and his courage throughout his life.

Because he was a dedicated lifesaver, Eddie Aikau inspires people to help others. Eddie was a very effective lifeguard at Waimea Bay. He successfully carried out 500 rescues without a single person losing their life (“Eddie Aikau’s 73rd Birthday”). Aikau risked his life hundreds of times, exhibiting immaculate courage and flawless dedication. In addition to the astounding number of saved lives, Eddie Aikau’s consistent success reveals he never missed the chance to make a rescue, which indicates extreme commitment. This commitment shown by Eddie inspires people to support others in need. Although these individuals may not be as skillful as Eddie, they can be just as obligated to help someone. On March 17, 1978, Eddie Aikau made his final and most courageous escape. Eddie sacrificed his life to save the passengers aboard the boat Hokule'a. To save the crew and the voyager, Aikau paddled to Lanai on his surfboard (“Biography”). It takes a great deal of bravery and commitment to risk one's self for others, yet Eddie did it without hesitation. Eddie was so committed to saving others, and he never gave up, even if it meant the loss of his own life. Eddie’s obligation to save others teaches people to be helpful in their own lives. Individuals become inspired to benefit others, and grasp the idea that even if they can't save anyone, they can be a dedicated assister, helping in any way that they can. Through Eddie’s dedication as a life-saver and obligation to help people, individuals learn to help others, and become committed to aiding other individuals. 

The story of Eddie Aikau encourages people to help others because of his resilience to obstacles. While Eddie was in childhood, his family did not have a lot of money. Clyde Aikau, Eddie’s brother said, “We come from a real poor family. All we had when we were kids was rice, sugar, and cream. That was our diet. We had almost nothing.” Eddie still became an accomplished surfer and lifeguard despite the lack of money (Coleman, 35). Although Eddie didn’t have any money, he was still able to become a world-famous surfer, then a dedicated lifeguard. He met the challenge of poverty with resilience. This determination would bring him to achieve all his accomplishments. Through Eddie’s resilience, people learn to never avoid helping others, even if there is an obstacle to leap over first. Eddie’s resilience inspires individuals to meet their challenges and overcome them in order to save others. While Eddie was a lifeguard at Waimea Bay, he made rescues with himself and his surfboard alone. Eddie Aikau made hundreds of rescues without the assistance of a jet ski or any modern equipment (“Eddie Aikau’s 73rd Birthday”). Despite the lack of equipment, Eddie still saved a huge number of people. He overcame this obstacle with pure determination, using only himself and his board. This determination inspires people to overcome their own challenges, even if they lack the resources necessary. They learn to help others with what they have, and meet the challenges they face doing so with determination. Ultimately, through his resilience with his challenges, and his determination against the odds, Eddie Aikau motivates individuals to tackle the obstacles they encounter with resilience in order to help others.

The story of Eddie Aikau inspires people to help others because of his courage throughout his life. While he was a lifeguard at Waimea Bay, Eddie was famous for making rescues in surf that reached 30 feet high (“Biography”). It takes loads of courage to save people in waves more than five times one’s height. Eddie Aikau did this every day, and hundreds of times. The unquestionable bravery of Eddie’s rescues inspires people to step up and take bold steps for the benefit of others. From Eddie’s bravery, people can assume that it takes courage to stand up against the odds, and that all heroes must be brave. Although being too courageous can sometimes be foolish or dangerous, it is necessary for people to be brave if they are going to help others. For example, when Eddie attempted to paddle to land on his surfboard, he saved the crew (Lamoureux). Although this courageous move was extremely dangerous, it was necessary if the crew was to live. This selfless bravery that Eddie showed motivates others to be courageous in their own lives. From Eddie’s heroic voyage, people learn that in order to help others, they must have an immense amount of courage, and they have to use that courage when no one else is stepping up. As expressed, Eddie Aikau’s indubitable courage and heroic selflessness inspires people to help and assist others when they need it most. 

Because of his dedication as a lifesaver, his resilience against challenges, and his courage throughout his life, Eddie Aikau's story inspires people to help others. Eddie Aikau was passionate about surfing the ocean, understood the value of his people, and had the courage to save lives threatened by it. He inspires individuals with his selfless bravery, commitment, and determination. His story tells of these three admirable traits, and teaches others to aid fellow people. Eddie made the ultimate sacrifice, saving an entire ship’s crew. This represents true heroism. As Joseph Campbell once said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

Works Cited


“About Eddie Aikau.” Eddie Aikau Foundation, Eddie Aikau Foundation, 21 Sept. 2019, Contest/2019 Essay/2019 Essay Contest - guidelines.pdf


“Biography.” Eddie Aikau Foundation, Eddie Aikau Foundation, 2006,


Coleman, Stuart Holmes. Eddie Would Go: The Story of Eddie Aikau, Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing. St. Martin's Griffin, 2004.


“Eddie Aikau.” Gale Biography Online Collection, Gale, 2019. Gale In Context: Biography, Accessed 4 Dec. 2019.\


“Eddie Aikau’s 73rd Birthday.” Google Doodles, Google, 4 May 2019,


Lamoureux, Aimee. “Lifeguard Eddie Aikau Saved 500 People - But No One Could Save Him.” All That's Interesting, All That's Interesting, 14 Apr. 2018,


Page created on 2/11/2020 3:35:43 AM

Last edited 6/20/2020 9:40:28 PM

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Related Links

Eddie Aikau Foundation - A short biography on Eddie Aikau.
Eddie Would Go - Many articles on Eddie and related topics. A book about Eddie.
The surfing life story of Eddie Aikau - A very informative article on Eddie Aikau