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Hawaiian Islands Surf in Waikiki, Oahu is The Birthplace of Surfing - Hanging 10 Evolution in Hawaii

Updated on May 12, 2012

Double Rainbow Off My Balcony Sheraton Waikiki

Double Rainbow from the balcony of the 'Sheraton Waikiki'
Double Rainbow from the balcony of the 'Sheraton Waikiki' | Source

ALOHA: The island greeting you receive when exiting the plane and entering the airport in Honlulu on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii

A fabulous place to begin a Hawaiian vacation is Waikiki, Oahu. The Taxi driver collected us from the airport and delivered us to the Waikiki Sheraton. It was beachfront in the south basin with Diamond Head profile not too far in the distance. After 12 hours of travel, we arrived in Paradise at last. During this week I scheduled my first surf lesson on the Island of Oahu, the Surfing Capitol of the Planet.


Oahu: The Birthplace of Surfing

I recently learned that the Island of Oahu was the actual birthplace of surfing. In the early days of surfing before it became a sport, it was a known recreational activity enjoyed by ancient Hawaiian chiefs called noblemen.  The mystical noblemen would surf together not only as recreational activity, but as a means of conflict resolution. It was a deeply spiritual affair. There were rituals surrounding the construction of a surfboard by the noblemen; also, an art of riding the waves and praying for good surf. The surfboards road by the noblemen was known as ‘Alii’  and the board itself was called an ‘Olo’ . The Olo was made from the Wili Wili, Ula, and Koa trees crafted in length to 14 – 16 feet long for the noble ‘Alii’ . See the link provided for the process of making these interesting long boards. 

Hawaiian Islands: Noblemen Surfed For Conflict Resolution

Ancient Hawaiians Surfing Waikiki on Longboards - Mystical

One of The Oldest Pictures of an Ancient Hawaiian Surfer Went to Auction in 2011

Courtesy of Dominion Winter  The photo up for auction is believed to be one of the earliest surf photos on record
Courtesy of Dominion Winter The photo up for auction is believed to be one of the earliest surf photos on record | Source

A Centurion Sport

The photo of the Hawaiian surfer taken between 1890 - 1900 is far removed from the high tech equipment used by the surfing community today. This photo depicts a most natural and unsophisticated relationship between man and ocean as the loin-clothed, bare-skinned surfer is seen contemplating. What is he contemplating? One can only imagine. The image of Diamond head in the background provides the demographic location of the surfer connecting the historic roots in Oahu with the world of surfing. By putting a pair of doggers on the ancient, this surfer could easily become a contemporary seen today on the island. The above photo was on display for auction at the Bishop Museum Archives in Honolulu. The manager of collection, Desoto Brown, described this picture as having a 'timeless quality' and I certainly agree. This picture captures you with a special kind of intrigue. I believe it is witnessed through the way the ocean captures the attention of the ancient surfer as the same ocean continues to capture us today providing a common experience. The feeling that is generated by the photo is believed to have historic significance because it depicts an era at Waikiki that inspired the resurgence of surfing that, once discovered, quickly spread over the planet.

The round-nosed board displayed in the picture by the ancient surfer is called Alaia. It was mostly made by the Hawaiian commoners from the Koa tree, much smaller than the board's made by ancient noblemen. This board has a back fin to aid in balance and carving. The round-nose board has made a resurgence in the contemporary world of surfing.

Waikiki, Oahu Island, Hawaii

waikiki, oahu:
Waikiki, Honolulu, HI, USA

get directions

Ancients Had An Artful Technique

Surfing Was Born Via Olympian Exposure by Kahanamoku

The sport of surfing was popularized in 1900’s when the Olympic Gold Winner Duke Kahanamoku, a talented Hawaiian swimmer, partnered to establish 'Hui Nalu', a Club of The Wave Riders.   Surfing demonstrations on the islands by Kahananmoku's wave riders gained interests from spectators that wanted to learn how to maneuver a surfboard for themselves. This organization paved the way for the world to learn about the recreational sport of surfing by bringing public attention to the island through increased tourist trade.  The recreational sport of surfing evolved into to the professional sporting industry it has become today making the Hawaiian Islands the Surfing Capital of the planet.

Surfing Today Has Evolved Into A High Tech Sport As the Ocean Remains The Same

What is Hanging 10 On a Long Board

Hanging 10 is something we did as kids on our skateboards as we rolled down the driveway of our suburban houses while trying to imitate those cool surfer dudes seen on TV. However, it is actually quite a serious feat on a long board. The term Hang 10, also referred to as Toes on the Nose,is usually performed on a long board over 8 feet long. The toes of both feet are literally gripping the nose of the surfboard during this maneuver. Though I have never tried it myself, it seems to defeat the rules of balance as all of the body weight is carried on the nose of the board. Fascinating to observe as it is, only the expert surfers can meet the highly technical challenge of this maneuver.

In researching specific instructions for performing a Hang 10 maneuver in order to write about it, I find it rather challenging to explain. I certainly do not claim to view myself expert enough to describe such a feat to the satisfaction of those who have achieved it. Nor do I pose to completely understand exactly how a person does such a serious maneuver on a surfboard. I am simply parroting a sample of what I have read to suggest the level of its difficulty.

Whoa...Hanging 10


How to Hang 10

It appears that once you have dropped into a wave and successfully angled down the face of it, your front foot should be placed around the midpoint of the board with your foot planted near the tail, the most solid place. Achieved the desired position of the board by applying force to back foot and lighten up on the front to position the surfboard on the mid line of the wave face. This is where the surface is standing at its most vertical and where exists the speed line. You must go against the boards natural tendency to fall to the bottom or glide to the back by keeping your rail linked to the wave while keeping a projecting track parallel with the falling lip. While you are running at full speed with the length of the board's bottom in the water, move to the nose to hang 10.   See there...And you thought this was going to be hard.  It was easy enough in the driveway anyway.




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    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      Hey Susan, As a youth I skateboarded down the sidewalk, no hanging ten though. Taking a surf lesson was very hard, they make it look so easy, but staying on that board requires extreme balance. I was on it long enough for my girlfriend to take a picture from the beach.I will have to find that pic and post it on that hub. It is hard to know it is me, but I KNOW IT IS ME :).

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've always wanted to go to Hawaii. The only surfing I've ever done is body surfing. I don't think I'd do well balancing on a board. I have tried sail boarding and it was fun but I didn't stay up that long :)

      Enjoyed reading about Hang 10 and where Surfing originated.

    • Golfgal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      Thanks CloudExplorer, I appreciate your love for the tropics and the boards. I love the way hubbers share the works of others and I truly appreciate the publicity. The trip was totally awesome and narly....hehe, I couldn't resist. Aloha.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 

      6 years ago from New York City

      I totally loved this hub on surfing and Hawaii, I use to be a skate boarder many years ago, and I know how difficult it is to pull of many stunts with out getting hurt, and I'm sure there a danger in surfing as well.

      I love the surfing history you wrote about here, and never knew that Hawaii was the birth place of surfing, and so I learned a great deal here, that last trick sound pretty tough to pull off to, as well as to write about.

      Nicely done here this hub is getting voted up, and shared on all of my networks for sure. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Oooh, now I really want to go to Hawaii! Great Hub!

    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      When I was younger I surfed the east coast all the time.....twice I got to surf the west coast....but my unrealized dream was to surf in Hawaii.....great hub....I really enjoyed reading it


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