Surfing has been a part of the Hawaiian culture and way of life dating back to the fourth century AD, over 1,000 years ago. During ancient Hawaiian times, the leaders and royalty (ali‘i) dominated the waters. The best surfing spots were reserved for them. Native Hawaiian’s surf boards were generally made out of Koa wood. The kamaʻāina, or common people, would ride boards that averaged 12 feet long, while the aliʻi would ride boards that were 24 feet.
By the end of the nineteenth century, foreign missionaries had nearly made the sport extinct. However, one of the most well-known surfers, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku is known for keeping the sport alive. Duke founded the surf club, Hui Nalu, and he is considered the father of modern surfing. He was the first person to be inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame and Swimming Hall of Fame. Duke is known for embodying the Spirit of Aloha. When he passed, the Duke Kahanamoku statue was created to welcome visitors with opens arms. The spirit of Duke and surfing continue to radiate throughout the Hawaiian Islands and touch the hearts of people across the world.