Surfing in Hawai'i : 1778-1930
When the early European explorers traversed the globe, their journals held numerous accounts of Hawaiians enjoying surfing. Since Europeans of that era were not accustomed to swimming in their own cold waters, it must have seemed like a dream to watch naked native Hawaiians riding the waves of a turbulent sea. Nowhere in the ancient world was surfing as ingrained into the culture as on the islands of Hawai'i. He'e nalu (wave sliding) was the national sport and enjoyed by all. When a swell was up, whole villages were deserted as everyone fled to the beach to test their surfing skills. Legends of famous surf riders were retold in mele (song/chant), and fortunes could be decided on the outcome of a surfing contest. From these shores, modern surfing was born, along with the iconic romantic images of bronzed surfers, grass shacks, and hula.