The History of Surfing

Surfing originated in Polynesian and was first described in 1769 when Captain James Cook arrived in Tahiti. In Hawaii, surfing was considered an art form as much as it was a sport and recreational activity. Temples were dedicated to surfing and Hawaiians would call upon their Priests to pray for good waves.

Everybody surfed in Hawaii including women and children, but the best waves and beaches were open only to the ruling class. When missionaries arrived in the 1820s they sought to transform Hawaiian culture including getting rid of surfing where nearly naked men and women mingled freely instead of working. Surfing went into decline until the early 20th century when it was revived by Alexander Hume Ford and Jack London. Ford was living in Waikiki trying to promote Hawaii as a tourist destination and realized that surfing could become a selling point. When Jack London arrived in Waikiki he was already a famous author. Ford introduced the sport to London and he immediately fell in love. In 1907 London wrote “A Royal Sport: Surfing in Waikiki” which was published in several magazines and garnered much attention. In 1908 Ford petitioned the trustees of the Queen Emma Estate to set aside a parcel of land next to the Moana Hotel in Waikiki for a surfing and canoeing club. In Ford’s fund-raising manifesto he described a club that would “give an added and permanent attraction to Hawaii and make Waikiki always the Home of the Surfer, with perhaps an annual Surfboard and Outrigger Canoe Carnival which will do much to spread abroad the attractions of Hawaii, the only islands in the world where men and boys ride upright upon the crests of waves.” Ford’s petition worked and the trustees of Queen Emma’s Estate founded the Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Club, the first modern club dedicated to the perpetuation of wave-riding.

A few years later Hawaii’s most famous waterman and Olympic swimming champion, Duke Kahanamoku, spread the sport abroad by giving demonstrations as he traveled the globe. Kahanamoku is widely credited with surfing the longest wave in history, a wave near Waikiki that carried him for more than a mile.

There are many great surf breaks in Hawaii. Our Hawaii iPhone app’s point these out as you drive around the island.

President Obama’s Kailua Vacation Home

For the 3rd year in a row President Barack Obama and his family will vacation on Oahu for the Christmas holidays. For the past 2 years the family stayed at Plantation Estate, a 5 bedroom vacation home on Kailua Beach, also dubbed the Winter White House. It hasn’t been announced yet if the family will stay there again, but odds are that they will. The home is on the far end of Kailua beach in a gated community and offers plenty of privacy and security.

President Obama's Kailua Vacation Rental

Oahu’s Farmers Markets

If you’re staying in a vacation rental, one of the first orders of business is to stock up on supplies and groceries. Some people go directly from the airport to Costco. Yes, Costco has an affordable and large selection of everything, but wouldn’t you rather eat fresh local produce that’s in season instead of fruits and vegetables that were shipped from thousands of miles away? Familiarize yourself with the farmers market schedule and then plan your shopping accordingly. Oahu has a staggering number of farmer’s markets, as shown on the map below. If you’ve visited any of these, please share which ones are the best. We’ve been to the markets in Kailua and they are great.

View Oahu Farmers Markets in a larger map

Barack Obama’s Kailua Vacation

Barack Obama is from Hawaii so it’s not surprising that he frequently visits the state and relatives on Oahu. On his last vacation in August he rented a vacation home on Kailua Beach – a very good choice for a quiet family vacation.

So besides enjoying Kailua beach, what does the soon to be U.S. President do while on vacation? How about body surf at Sandy Beach!

As a child Obama spent a considerable amount of time at Sandy’s and he knows how to handle the waves. He makes it look easy, but the waves at sandy beach are notoriously dangerous, it’s very easy to get pile drived into the sand and get a neck or other injury. Reports indicate he left his family to have fun at Hanauma Bay while he and a couple buddies (and the Secret Service) opted for a little more excitement.

[In the first part of the video he is throwing flowers into the ocean for his mother who passed away many years ago. Note: standing on lava ledges beside the ocean is a dangerous proposition – a slightly bigger wave and he would have been in trouble]