: surf riding
in hawaii, 1914
Goodrich : Surf Riding in Hawaii, 1914.
A. C. McClurg
Co., Chicago, 1914.
"an Englishman" (Sir Fredrick Treves) is from The
Other Side of the Lantern (1905).
The World Famed
Waikiki Beach, Honolulu.
surf bathing were the ideal sports in which men and women,
boys and girls,
young and old took part with the keenest delight.
Not only was
there ordinary surf-riding, with or without a board, but there
swimming with the hands only, the feet being fast interlocked
— let someone try it who thinks this an easy trick; kula-kalai,
wrestling in the sea; lelekawa, leaping from
precipices into water,
and a hundred other forms of this sport of which the Hawaiians
fond. Indeed, they were quite as much at home in the sea as on
sharks in their native element was, and is, simply sport for
a sharp knife, and in former times this was only a stone
must be remembered, they would dive into the water and tease
in all manner of ways, skilfully evading his jaws, and when
they were ready
to do so, despatch him with an undercut, or put a stick
between his jaws
and capture him alive.
It is but
to think first of sea-bathing when about to consider the
sports and pastimes
of our Island
the very broad statement that Honolulu has the most perfect
in the world is one which is actually borne out by the facts.
This is what
an Englishman * wrote of it:
"One great joy
of Honolulu is the sea-bathing, for nothing can surpass it.
Those who find
delight in this rudimentary pursuit must go to the Hawaiian
understand it in perfection. It may be claimed that there is
bathing on the Lido by Venice, or at Atlantic City, or on the
Cape Town and Durban.
as Mercutio said of his wound, 'will serve,' but they fail to
such bathing as can be found in the cove which lies in the
shelter of Diamond
It was of
Beach that Sir Frederick was speaking, and no one who has seen
three miles east of the cityof Honolulu, and reached in a few
electric tram-car, hesitates for a moment in adding his
the favourable opinion of the thousands of visitors who have
is added the joy of the actual bathing, enthusiasm comes
promptly to add
fervour to the endorsement.
is truly a remarkable place, and it may be stated,
the park, the cocoanut palms, the flowers, and all other
make it a charming place of resort.
of the beach slope gradually down into and under the water,
to the great coral reef itself, a mile or more off shore,
as an efficient barrier against the trespassing of sharks,
Treves, Bart., Sergeant-Surgeon to H. B. M., King Edward
of the sea" that are plentiful in the water outside the reef,
and at all parts of the archipelago.
protecting wall off Waikiki, "the mighty rollers from the sea
toes and pitch headlong in foam-crested torrents across the
on to the white coral sand of the beach"; but there is
absolutely no undertow
at any time.
The water of
this lagoon, clean, clear sea brine, scarcely varies from 78°
in temperature the whole year round.
at Waikiki is, therefore, a perennial sport, and the crowd
during the late
afternoon of a January day is quite as likely as not to be as
is that of mid-August.
and reef, the bather finds water of any depth to suit his
It is here
that the stranger may witness, if he is not disposed to
in, the remarkable sports of canoeing in the surf and riding
breakers: the most thrilling, exhilarating, fascinating,
sports in the world.
For both of
one puts on a bathing-suit, and the conventions at Waikiki
permit a certain
freedom and comfort in these which are defied at more "proper"
The novice at
surf -canoeing will, of course, commit himself to the care of
hand, and take his place in one of the narrow, graceful canoes
fitted with an outrigger to give them stability.
or foreigners will paddle out to the edge of the reef and
the light craft bow towards the shore before an incoming
up the canoe like a feather on the
slope of its
sending it shoreward in a cloud of spray at a speed which
that of a "limited- express" train, and sometimes, if the
comber is rather
exceptionally big and enduring, right up onto the sands of the
in this sport; but much more in the surf-board riding and the
be the actor's own, gained by personal experience.
For this a
thin, and rather narrow board is required, and it is usually
the front end to make it travel faster than it would otherwise
and none must attempt surf-board riding who is not a good one,
board out through the breakers, and then lies upon it, facing
the waves until he sees one coming that is big enough to
please him, when
he paddles with both hands to get himself going at about the
as the breaker is running when it overtakes him.
Then, if he
been sufficiently adept, the surge does the rest, carrying him
towards the beach, "like a chip in a mill-race."
would-be rider is not sufficiently adept?
Then he and
board are tumbled about most beautifully, and therein is the
Those who have
acquired somewhat exceptional proficiency can kneel upon their
or even stand upright after the ride has fairly begun; but it
to say that the beginner does not perform this feat with
for some time.
In fact, it is
no easy trick to ride a wave at all, and capsizes are many for
but such little episodes merely add
Facing page 278
Volume 9 Number 4,
April 1915, page 325.
zest to the
surely must be, for the devotees give hours to it.
To see an
come plunging shoreward on the crest of a big wave that is
about him makes the inexperienced onlooker catch his breath.
themselves have practised surf swimming in every form of the
ages, and they are all adepts, skill seeming to come to them
the haole — foreigner — boys and girls, men and even a few
are pushing the natives hard for first honours; and every day
of the year
sees a crowd of bathers at Waikiki, most of them trying their
surf-canoeing or surfboard riding.
is justly given to Waikiki Beach as being the ideal place for
that does not mean that good bathing is a monopoly of
the little beauty spot in Hilo Bay, Hawaii Island, there is
that is almost as good as Oahu's best. Kauai Island, too, is
proud of her bathing beaches.
district of this last-mentioned island has its beach which has
since prehistoric times.
north coast, claims one of the best of these, and it offers
the added feature
of freshwater bathing, in Hanalei River, the largest stream of
the fact that it has a good hotel, is one of the most popular
all Hawaii with transient visitors.
At a place
Palihili, on the west coast, near the "Barking Sands," is
that is famous, especially with the native Hawaiians
It was one of
in olden times, and even nowadays those people believe that
there is special
benefit to be had by bathing at Palihili. The sand of the
beach, at "Barking
Sands," is coarse and becomes filled with air when uncovered;
just at the
turn of the tide, when the flood begins to make, the incoming
the air, causing a peculiar sound which induces the name.
But every one
of the territory's principal islands, and pretty nearly every
them, has its bathing beach which would be called admirable
yields precedence merely to the superlative excellence of
Island, and Hanalei.
Co., Chicago, 1914.
Geoff Cater (2013-2017) :
Goodrich : Surf Riding in Hawaii, 1914.