Surfing in Ancient Hawaii for Surf Club Maui Keiki Surf Camp


  • Surfing was very popular in ancient Hawaii.
  • Surfing was called “he’e nalu” or wave sliding.
  • Surfing was done in Hawaii from over a thousand years ago, up until the 1800’s.
  • Surfing was a favorite pastime of Hawaiian kings and queens and was also done by the common people as well.
  • Surfboards were called “papa he’e nalu”
  • In the olden days all surfboards were made of wood.
  • Special types of wood were used for surfboards, including Koa wood, and Ulu (breadfruit tree). But the best and lightest wood was from the Wili-wili tree. Usually only the kings had surfboards made of Wili-wili wood.
  • Surfboards took a long time to make and they were very sacred and special objects as the spirit of the tree became the spirit of the surfboard, and also the mana of the person making the board would become part of the board itself.
  • Ancient surfboards did not have fins, and were narrower than modern boards so they were probably more difficult to ride.
  • Some surfboards were small and some were really big.
  • The different types of boards had different names:
  • The smallest was the “Paipo”, then the “Alaia”, then the “Kiko’o”, and the biggest was the “Olo”.
  • The smallest boards were the Paipo, (pie-po) and they were like body boards, and might have been ridden prone (laying down)
  • Then the Alaia (ah-lie-yah) boards were usually 6-9 feet long like modern short boards or mini tankers. (Ridden prone or standing).
  • There were larger boards 15-18 for big surf feet called, “Kiko’o” (kee-ko-oh)
  • The biggest surfboards were the “Olo” (oh-low) boards, and they were 18 up to 25 feet long, and very narrow.
  • In the olden days, the King would have the biggest Olo board. Big surfboards took more time and resources to build, and it was also a KAPU for anyone but an Alii (royalty) to ride the Ole boards.
  • Surfing in ancient Hawaii was done together, but sometimes special surf breaks were reserved to the Alii (royalty).
  • Surfing was done either prone (laying down) or standing.
  • There were also boards for riding on the land, called “papa holua”
  • These were special sleds that were for riding on special courses covered with leaves. Papa holua were also ridden prone and standing.
  • Surfboard contests were also popular and were a great place for a king to show their skills. To be an accomplished waterman, and a good surfer was a skill that everyone respected and appreciated.


Queen ???n used to jump off a conoe to catch waves, This sport was called he’e Nalu wa’a????



Definition of Aloha Spirit St

ate Law [5-7.5] “Aloha Spirit”

“Aloha Spirit” is the coordination of mind and hear

t within each person. It brings each person to

the self. Each person must think and emit good

feelings to others. In the contemplation and

presence of the life force, “Aloha”,

the following unuhi laula

loa may be used:

“Akahai” ~ kindness, to be

expressed with tenderness



kahi” ~ unity, to be expressed with harmony

“`Olu `olu” ~ agreeable, to be

expressed with pleasantness

“Ha`aha`a” ~ humility, to be expressed with modesty

“Ahonui” ~ patience, to be expressed with perseverance

These are the trains of character that express

the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawai`i’s

people. It was the working philosophy of Native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the

people of Hawai`i.

“Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.

“Aloha” means mutual regards and affection and extends warmth in caring with no

obligation in return.

“Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other

person for collective existence.

“Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to

see what cannot be seen and to know the