Tips & Advice
A brief History of Surfing

Everybody’s Gone Surfing

Surfing is enriched with a chequered, exciting and rebellious history. It’s perceived by some as the sport of kings, whereas others view it as the pastime of drop outs and beach bums. The beauty of surfing is that its history allows for modern surfers to identify what surfing means to them. We have professional athletes on the world tour, The World Surfing League (WSL), who see surfing as a sport. We have the free surfers who travel the world discovering waves and seeking adventure and we have the weekend warriors who sneak in the occasional surf when time allows. All have their place in our mixed bag of cultures and all are referred to as surfers.

Surfing history in its most abbreviated form can be traced back to Ancient Polynesia where it is said that surfing was exclusively the sport of kings and only to be practiced by royalty. As with all good things, surfing eventually spread through the ranks and around the world with the help of legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku. In the late 50s, surfing experienced growing popularity and exposure through Hollywood movies, such as the 1959 film Gidget starring Sandra Dee. And with the 1960s came the emergence of actual surf movies, such as The Endless Summer in 1965 and the ‘70s hit movie Morning of the Earth


We’ve asked our team about their favourite ever surf movies. Here are the ones that made top of our list!


People were quick to identify themselves as ‘surfers’. Beach culture, with surfers at the forefront became big business not just in the movie industry, but in the music industry with bands like The Beach Boys, in literature with books like Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon and also in the fashion industry with many brands emerging in the late 60s, such as O’Neill, Rip Curl and Quiksilver; all facilitating the spread of surfing into the world and the competitive sport that it is today.

Surfing Timeline

Date Unknown

There is now way of knowing where or when the first surfboard was ridden, but it is believed to be in ancient Hawaii where it was known as the ‘Sport of Kings’.


Surfing is first described by Joseph Banks in one of his journals during the third voyage to the Pacific Islands led by Captain James Cook


Missionaries from across Europe arrive in Polynesia where they discourage many Natives from practising pagan religion and traditions. Only a handful of Hawaiians continue the sport of surfing.


Hawaiians living close to Waikiki begin to revive surfing and soon re-establish it as a sport.


The art of surfing is first displayed in California as a publicity stunt for the opening of the Los Angeles-Redondo-Huntington railroad and starts the trend of surfing and surfers being used for promotion and marketing.


Legendary Hawaiin ‘Duke Kahanamoku’ takes the ancient art of surfing to Australia where surfing soon becomes the sport that personifies Australia.