Buttons Kaluhiokalani


Buttons Kaluhiokalani passes away after battle with lung cancer

Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2013 6:51 PM EST Updated: Saturday, November 2, 2013 6:53 PM EST

Longtime surfer Buttons Kaluhiokalani has passed away after a battle with lung cancer. Kaluhiokalani was known in the 1970s for his new and innovative style he brought the sport of surfing. He was battling stage four cancer that spread to his back. Kaluhiokalani’s family also stuck by his side. They hosted a fundraiser to pay his medical bills on September 21 at The Fix.

Related story: http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/23408411/fundraiser-planned-for-surf-instructor



Just saw this. Saddened… I wish yiu strength, Buttons for your journey across the cosmos.

He was the most innovative and “radical” surfer of his time.  Sadly he left us too soon.  What a talent, that guy could bury a rail and raise it from the dead.

Immensely talented and so much fun to watch. A friend of mine lived next door to him near Sunset and they always spoke of of his good nature and generosity.



      Howzit my friend Ghettorat,  I read about it this morning while reading the Garden Isle online. I would have thought there would be more posts about his death here by now but I see only a couple. Now he’s up there showing those that are there already how to do those rad tricks he was known for. Buttons and Larry B were the 2 leaders when it came to the rad surfing. I agree that Buttons went before his time but who really knows when their time is. Aloha,Kokua


When I first learned to surf,

he was my hero.

Emulated him on my skateboard in every driveway I could cutback on.

In my book,

he defined the shortboard revolution.

Redefining what could be done on a wave.

Every rail burying cutback can be traced back to him.

He will be missed.

RIP my surfing friend.


He always had so much stoke and energy.

Came round full-circle and was doing so great.

Hadn’t heard. Thanks.

Woke up with that Stones/Taylor song in my head;  “Time Waits For No One”.  Then read this.  So true.  Last I heard of him he was in the back seat of a Suburban with Dog the Bounty Hunter on national TV.  On his way back to jail for skippin’ on “minah” $#!t.  Gruesome way to go.  “And it won’t wait for you”

never met buttons but sanded some of his boards that Vercelli shaped. rest in peace

Hey K, Glad to see you back here; your the heart and soul of this place.  I think most guys here haven’t been around surfing that long; some around here falsely are naive enough to think it began with sways.  Buttons was unique in his time; he could finish a wave in a way that left one thinking; “what did he just do and how did he do that?”  Good health and a sound mind to you.

I’m part of the same generation as Buttons, Mark Liddel, Michael Ho, Hans Hedemann, and many others. Spent days surfing the same spots, and had the unfortunate luck to surf against him in a high school contest in 1974. Buttons was one of a kind, and could do anything on a surfboard. Both inspiring and demoralizing because he was that good. He was a wild child and in the end it caught up with him. Very sad to see him go.

He and LB would come over to the mainland and hang out in Solana Beach when Ben Aipa came to shape boards at SNI. There was always a buzz in the air people talking about seeing Buttons or Larry surfing somewhere.  Never saw buttons in action but did see LB one day at Blacks.  It was not a great day just average California waves.  It was a jaw dropping experience to see what he could do with the less then stellar surf.  Those two defined an era, a time and show all of us the future of Surfing.  Sharkcountry, I’m sure just competing against buttons would have made you a better surfer. 

Buttons had his shortcomings, but he had a generous heaping of aloha.  Early on people took advantage of this for whatever reason, and the “cool” guys introduced him to drugs; what a shame.  Back in the day everone wanted to be his friend because he was the man.  A few of my friends have been calling sharing their own Buttons stories, and over all, there is a deep regret and loss over such a wonderous person.  Buttons defined radical surfing.

  Buttons defined radical surfing.

Truer words could not be spoken.

Rest in peace Buttons…a true Hawaiian.Thanks brah, for saving my board at Rocky Pt. from imminent destruction when my leash broke. Its amazing that most of his groundbreaking surfing was done in the late 70s on single fins.


wow what an amazing tallent he was

the definition of stylist - Buttons was so smooth and spontaneous, radical and so fun to watch - I like you Barry, copied him over and over again on my skatebard! - what a temendous athelete, so sorry to see him gone, our sport owes him so much - for me the best part was he always made it look so fun! - rest in peace

the progression of undefinable(at the time) high performance

Dewey Webber>Paul Strauch>Jock Sutherland>Reno Abeillera>Larry Bertlemann>Buttons>? (Dane?) (Craig Anderson?)

But for me

it was more like the speed/power/collness styles of

Phil>Joey Cabell>BK>Terry Fitzgerald

The greatest thing about buttons was that he never lost his aloha and his smile no matter what he went thru

He was never bitter

just like Rell

their smiles could kill everything bad in the world at that and that place you encountered it.

There are many more hawaiians as talented buttons out there

some get the limelight like Russ K

some don’t like a little kid named Corey who surfed just as well

with anything on anything

but its the smile and the heart felt aloha

that made buttons and rell special to everyone they met

Having been lucky enough to live across Kam Hwy from Sunset, I ran into Buttons semi-regularly. He always seemed to be going ninety miles an hour in or out of the water. In a small circle of guys I was known as the “effing redhead” from almost dropping on a certain Mr. Foster and he looked back and said it as he went by. It immediately made me laugh and became a joke with them all. Buttons never called me that though I never was offended. He called me Kimo, the Hawaiian version of my name. For some reason he treated me as an equal at the point. With friends like him I’ll forever remember true Aloha. Learning of his passing takes a piece away.

Aloha, ho’opili Buttons. See you on the other side.

Foamdust, Thank you for posting that video. I watched the whole thing with tears in my eyes. It turned me into a puddle.

I wish we were all wise enough to realize the import of his words, “Life is Short”. “Stay close to your loved ones”.