Gone, But Not Forgotten

June 2015
Written By: 
Paul Grimshaw
Chief Kamu and his fire-breathing hula shows entertained locals and visitors alike

Samuel “Chief Kamu” Kanekoa, along with his family, created countless Grand Strand vacation memories through his popular fire-breathing hula show that began in 2000.

On April 10, the 43-year-old Kanekoa died in a West Virginia hospital after he succumbed to cardiac arrest during a performance.

Originally from the Waipi’o Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii, Chief Kamu performed a dazzling fire knife show and was a hula instructor. He had been recently splitting his time between Myrtle Beach and West Virginia. During his shows he was accompanied by talented hula dancers, which often included his two young daughters who live in the Myrtle Beach area. The Chief was a regular up and down the East Coast, but performed hundreds (if not thousands) of his fire and hula shows at area resorts, where his singular joy was to spread the “aloha spirit.” He would teach young and old the aspects of ancient Hawaiian culture, mesmerizing crowds with spectacular twirling, spinning, fire breathing performances and traditional storytelling hula dances set to Hawaiian music.

For many, a Myrtle Beach vacation will not be the same without the Chief and his family, who brought a sense of the exotic to our shores. A memorial ceremonial “paddle out” by around 50 area surfers, with hundreds of onlookers and dozens of hula dancers on the beach, took place on April 17 in Surfside Beach.

Aloha, Chief Kamu.