The question always arises: Who invented surfing? Yes, that question is beyond our comprehension because there’s no way to accurately track the first wave being ridden for a person, or when it turns out, a specific culture from wave art before writing and recording history. It seems archaeologists have settled in two areas to begin official surfing history: Polynesia and Peru.
He’e nalu, meaning “surfing” or “wave slider,” was first recorded by the first European explorers. Some researchers placed the first surfing landscape in Tahiti in 1767 by the crew of Dolphin. Others put the moment in the eyes of Joseph Banks, a crew member on James Cook’s HMS Endeavor on its historic first voyage in 1769 and his “discovery” of the Hawaiian Islands. In 1779, we saw a text glimpse described by Lieutenant James King in Capt’s diary. Cook. Surfing is also described by early explorers in Samoa and Tonga. After that, many landmark writers will continue to write about this ancient art including Mark Twain and Jack London.
But who invented surfing? We know very little about the early years of surfing because the missionaries did the task of converting the “wild” natives, they also banned the indignation such as surfing, and the art was lost in early 20th century.
We know that surfing is literally the sport of kings like the royal Ali’i class claiming the most valuable beaches and riding the most beautiful boards. Riding heavy wooden planks that takes both strength and skill. The power on the waves translates into respect and stature on land.
In fact, surfing was never considered frivolous by ancient Hawaiians.
Surfers see it as a ritual communion with the ocean. The board is made from koa, wiliwili, or ‘ulu, and table types include alaia and’ olo. All of these boards are timeless and flat and difficult to handle due to their large size.
If we had to pin the invention of “modern” surfing, it could be Irish Hawaiian George Freeth, who became fascinated by the family’s surfing roots and began to revive the category. He cuts the size of traditional Hawaiian boards and works for a while for surfing exhibits for tourists coming to California.
The origin of Peruvian Surfing
Other archaeologists and historians arrive in Peru before Inca on the north coast. The Moche culture has been attributed to the small reed fishing boats called caballitos used for traversing the large blossoming oceans and then perhaps riding them back to shore. If this is true, this would place the generation of Peruvian surfers before the Polynesians. However, with evidence that Polynesians and Peruisans contacted at some point during the pre-colonial period, the question of who actually invented surfing was very unclear. For non-surfers, this argument may seem pointless, but for surfers who see the art of wave riding as a spiritual and cultural foundation, making a claim for surfing invention is a must.