1851 Rev. Cheever : Surfriding at Lahaina.
Extract from Life in the Sandwich Islands, or the Heart of the Pacific, as it was and as it is.
A.S. Barnes and Co., New York and H.W. Derby, Cincinnati. 1856. Pages 66 to 69.
Cheever, in his
interesting "Life in the Sandwich Isles", gives the following description
of a popular and characteristic amusement amoung this apparently semi-amphibious
It is highly amusing to a stranger to go out into the south part or this town (Lahaina), some day when the sea is rolling in heavily
over the reef, and to observe there the evolutions and rapid career of a company of surf-players.
The sport is so attractive and full of wild excitement to Hawaiians, and withal so healthful, that I cannot but hope it will be many
years before civilization shall look it out of countenance, or make it disreputable to indudge in this manly, though it be dangerous,
Many a man from
abroad who has witnessed this exhilarating play, has no doubt idly wished
that he were free and able to share in
For my part, I should like nothing better, if I could do it, than to get balanced on a board just before a great rushing wave, and so be hurried in half or quarter of a mile landward with the speed of a race-horse, all the time enveloped in foam and spray, but without letting the roller break and tumble over my head.
In this consists
the strength of muscle and sleight-of-hand, to keep the head and shoulders
just ahead and clear of the great
crested wall that is every moment impending over one, and threatening to bury the bold surf-rider in its warery ruin.
The natives do this with admirable intrepidity and skill, riding in, as it were, upon the neck and mane of their furious charger; and
when you ]ook to see them, their swift race run, dashed upon the rocks or sand, behold, they have slipped under the belly of the
wave they rode, and are away outside, waiting for a cruise upon another.
Both men and women,
girls and boys, have their times for this diversion.
Even the huge Premier (Auhea) has been kllown to commit her bulky person to a surf-board; and the chiefs generally, when they
visit Lahaina, take a turn or two at this invigorating sport with billows and board.
For a more accurate idea of it than can be conveyed by any description, the reader is referred to the engraving.
Volume 3 Number 1, July 1858.
Hutchings & Rosenfield, San Francisco, pages 203 and 207.