Who Invented Surfing?


Aren’t you curious about who invented surfing, the exciting water sport we enjoy today? This water sport involves riding on a surfboard while being carried by the waves. It is a popular pastime in Hawaii and has even spread to other parts of the world.


Who invented surfing? Hawaiians invented surfing. He’e nalu, which is more commonly known as surfing, is an activity that is credited to have been invented by native Hawaiians. 


He’e nalu, which is more commonly known as surfing, is an activity that is credited to have been invented by the Hawaiians. Learn the origin of surfing and who is the inventor of this water sport below:


The First Surfboards


The difference between the royals’ and the commoners’ surfboards was their length and the type of wood they use. Olo, also known as ali’i (royalty) surfboards, were 14 to 16 feet long and constructed from wiliwili trees. The boards used by the makaainanas (commoners), known as Alaia, were made of denser koa wood. These boards were only 10 to 12 feet long.


Olo weighed between 150 and 175 pounds, despite being less dense. The death penalty will be given to commoners who interfered with an ali’i’s ability to ride a wave or when they rode a wave that an ali’i was trying to catch.


Discover Who Invented Surfing Through This History Timeline


4th Century


The surfing history dates back to 400 AD. It is when Polynesians began making their way from Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands to the Hawaiian Islands.


They carried many customs, such as surfing on Paipo (belly/body) boards. The art of standing and surfing straight up on boards was developed in Hawaii.



1767 -1779


Several European explorers saw surfing in Polynesia. In 1767, B British voyagers may have watched surfing in Tahiti. When Lieutenant James King was finishing up Captain James Cook’s journals after Cook’s death in 1779, he became the first individual to write about the sport of surfing in Hawaii.


1849 – 1866


“Rare Sport at Ohonoo” is how surfing was described by the narrator of Herman Melville’s book. Then, during Mark Twain’s 1866 visit to Hawaii, he mentioned that in one area, a large group of naked Natives of all ages and both sexes, amusing themselves with the popular pastime of surf-bathing.”


A Few More Facts About Surfing


Three young Hawaiian princes visited Santa Cruz, California, in July 1885. They went there to take a vacation from St. Mathew’s Hall boarding school in San Mateo, and cool off. Surf historians say that Geoff Dunn and Kim Stoner, David Kawnanakoa, Edward Keliiahonui, and Jonah Khi Kalanianaole surfed the San Lorenzo River mouth on specially shaped redwood boards.


John Wrightson, a pioneer in agricultural education, is credited with being the first British surfer in 1890 after taking lessons from two Hawaiian students at his college. Many refer to George Freeth (1883–1919) as the “Father of Modern Surfing.” Freeth is considered the pioneer of modern surfing.


The land baron Henry E. Huntington’s diverse interests managed to bring surfing to the California coast in 1907. Huntington had witnessed Hawaiian boys surfing the waves while on vacation. He hired a young Hawaiian to ride surfboards to draw tourists to Redondo Beach, where he had made significant real estate investments.


George Freeth decided to reintroduce surfing, but he had little progress with the massive 500 cm (16 ft) hardwood boards that were prevalent at the time. He created the original “Long board” when he cut them in to make them more manageable, making him famous on the islands. Visitors were thrilled to see Freeth surfing in front of the Hotel Redondo twice daily.


In addition, Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian who won Olympic gold medals in swimming in 1912 and 1920, helped popularise surfing in both the United States and Australia by riding the waves. A professional tour began in 1975, and that year, Margo Oberg was declared the first female professional surfer.


Surfing Is Still As Fun And Exciting As Before


We can enjoy riding the waves thanks to those who invented surfing. The Polynesians, Hawaiians, and those who popularized this water sport. The surfing board might have changed a lot, but the fun of surfing wasn’t. Check out the best swell season on the Gold Coast now to know the best time to surf on the coast!