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Surfing 101

A Brief Introduction to Hawaii's Popular Pastime

It is nearly impossible to imagine Hawaii without surfers. The two have become synonymous with each other and for good reason; some of the best waves in the world are found in Hawaii, such as the Banzai Pipeline located on Oahu’s North Shore. Catching the perfect wave and experiencing a thrill only the ocean can deliver is the objective of both aspiring and experienced surfers alike. However, for those new to the sport, it is important to become acquainted with the ins and outs of the activity before paddling out into the sea to hang ten. 

Origins of Surfing

It is believed that surfing first originated with the ancient Polynesian cultures. The first supposed sighting of surfing occurred by a European ship while in Tahiti in 1747. Ancient Hawaiians viewed surfing as much more than a hobby; rather they considered it a way of life and an art form. Since then, the allure of the waves has continued to entice surfers into the water all around the world. However, it was not until the fifties and sixties that surfing really turned mainstream, with the popularity of surf movies and the success of bands like the Beach Boys.  

Basic Surf Terminology

Bail or Bail Out - To abandon one's surfboard, before being wiped out by the wave
Barrel - When the wave is curling over its peak causing a breaking wave between the lip and face
Glassy - A very favorable, windless surf condition in which the texture of the ocean surface is ultra-smooth, like glass
Leash - A cord attached to the ankle, used to prevent the board from being washed away from the surfer
Pipeline - Pipeline is a world-famous surf spot on the North Shore of Oahu, so named because the ocean is consistently producing hollow tubed waves, as if it were laying pipe
Take Off - To catch a wave and begin the ride
Tube - The inside of a hollow wave
Wipe Out - Terminating a ride, ungracefully (as in falling off!)

Important Safety Tips for Surfing

Surfing Tip #1 – Check the weather conditions before heading out to understand what type of surf to expect
Surfing Tip #2 – Protect your head, should you fall
Surfing Tip #3 – Keep your board with you so that it does not accidentally hit you or other surfers
Surfing Tip #4 – Practice surf etiquette to prevent collisions with other surfers
Surfing Tip #5 – Avoid obstacles, do not surf near piers, exposed rocks or boats.  The ocean is very powerful and unpredictable