Eddie Kamae, ukulele extraordinaire and a Honolulu original

On Sundays at sunset, Eddie sometimes heads about two miles down Kalakaua Avenue to the Moana Terrace at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort to hear former Royal Hawaiian Band leader Aaron Mahi play with Hawaiian musicians George Kuo and Martin Pahinui. He also likes to hear Jerry Santos and Olomana and the band Maunalua at the Corner Kitchen at Kapahulu and Kanaina.

But usually he begins each day by stepping out of his apartment and looking through the high-rises, searching for a patch of sky.

"That's all I want," he says. "Go out and say good morning to the birds." Later in the morning, he drives to the Diamond Head end of Waikiki and makes his way to the beach. "I like to go out there and talk to the ocean," he says. "I just say, "Aloha, aloha..."

Childhood memories mingle with his daily ritual. In the 1930s he and his brothers spent a nickel each to ride the streetcar to Waikiki on the weekends. The conductor rang the streetcar's bell as the car approached each stop. The first hotel he'd see was the Moana Surfrider, a Beaux Arts confection built in the early part of the 20th century. The hotel is still there, having gone through several incarnations and renovations, but of course, the streetcar is gone. Now the Route 8 bus runs through Waikiki — announcing the names of each stop in Hawaiian.

The Kamae family would sometimes take drives to the bandstand at Kapiolani Park, once a dusty plain in the shadow of Diamond Head. It was developed as a 19th century pleasure ground where horse races took place. By the time Eddie was a boy, he and his parents would come here to listen to the Royal Hawaiian Band, said to be the oldest continually performing municipal band in the country (and the only one in the U.S. that began as a royal band, in the 19th century when Hawaii was ruled by a constitutional monarch). Today you can hear the band on Fridays on the grounds of Iolani Palace about five miles away in downtown Honolulu.

Across from Kapiolani Park is another of Eddie's favorite places, the Hau Tree Lanai at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel.

The Hau Tree Lanai overlooks a stretch of Waikiki known as Sans Souci Beach Park, made famous after Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson struck up a friendship there with teenage Hawaiian Princess Kaiulani and wrote her a poem before she left for boarding school in Scotland.

Her islands here, in Southern sun,

Shall mourn their Kaiulani gone,

And I, in her dear banyan's shade,

Look vainly for my little maid.

San Souci Beach is where Eddie greets the ocean each morning with his aloha — a word with many meanings in the Hawaiian, including love, affection and kindness.

He's found ways to connect to the sea and the natural world here despite the tour buses and the tourists with their designer shopping bags.

"I feel like I've been guided," he says, recalling his experience decades ago when he first visited the Bishop Museum Archives and found originals of Queen Liliuokalani's musical compositions, which he began incorporating into his band's repertoire at a time when few people remembered her songs.

At 85, he focuses on the gratitude he feels for his role in sharing and performing the queen's work, and the lives of many other Hawaiians who otherwise would have been forgotten. That's one of the reasons he visits the sea each day, to say mahalo, mahalo to the ocean for the gifts given to him over the years.

They are ours now as well.

travel@latimes.com