You can’t go far on Kaua‘i without seeing a surfboard. From pontoon-like boards
12 feet long to “potato chip” boards for six year olds, they are strapped to car roofs,
protruding from the backs of rusty pick-ups or just slung under a sun-tanned arm.
When the surf is up, Kaua‘i residents and visitors alike drop what they’re doing and
head for the water.
Over 200 years ago, the first foreigners to arrive in Hawai‘i also noticed surfing’s
widespread popularity among the native inhabitants. When good waves arrived,
whole villages went quiet while men, women and children grabbed their boards
carved from koa and wiliwili wood and went to have some fun. No European or
American had ever surfed before. They marveled at the Hawaiians’ courage and
skill on the powerful waves. The ali‘i (nobility) were among the most enthusiastic
and skilled surfers. Surfing contests were opportunities for chiefs and chiefesses, to
demonstrate their physical prowess and reinforce their authority. King Kaumuali‘i of
Kaua‘i was among the finest surfers in all the Islands.
;e Sport of Kings