When you picture a fun and relaxing vacation at the beach, many vivid images and sounds may flood your senses. White sandy beaches, sparkling waves, a pounding surf, the cry of a seagull and that delicious salty tang of ocean air may rush to forefront of your mind.
There are many things have been and always will be thought of when we think about or long for a trip to the ocean. In addition to the visual pleasantries the beach can afford, there are also the active pleasantries as well such as flying a kite, building a colossal sandcastle, and taking a sunset stroll. While all of these images and activities go hand in hand with a coastal setting, there is one beach activity that has been captivating the attention of ocean-lovers for many years.
Surfing is when a person rides a surfboard on the crest and the face of a wave as it breaks towards the shoreline, and it's a beach activity beloved by those who worship the waves. It is coastal pastime that ranks high in popularity and enjoyment alongside favorite land pastimes such as baseball or football. Though surfing is done primarily in the ocean, it can also occur in rivers, lakes and wave pools.
In the early morning or early evening hours as you stroll along the beach, you may see several surfers bobbing along in the surf on their boards, attempting to catch that perfect wave. This can be a common site at beach locations around the world. Surfing has been around for thousands of years and for many people, it is not just a hobby to be enjoyed but a way of life. There are those that revere surfing so much that they consider it their religion and some surfing extremists go so far as to prevent visitors from trespassing on their local surfing grounds.
For many, surfing exists as a way to have some recreational fun and to enjoy the sensation of being able to "walk on water." For those that devote their time and focus to the sport, many tournaments are held at locations all around the world to give the true surfing competitor an opportunity to showcase their talents and win amazing prizes. Whether it is done for fun or sport, surfing has a distinctive history and has made a definitive "splash" with people throughout time.
The Original "Surfer Dudes"
The origins of surfing have always been heavily contested among many. The strongest debate is whether Hawaii, Peru or Polynesia gave birth to the sport. Although all three cultures lay compelling claims to this distinction, archaeological evidence shows that Peru possesses the oldest evidence of surfing. Pottery from Peru dating back as early as 1,000 BC, shows people riding on waves. Ceremonial Peruvian vessels depict men standing on little reed crafts on top of water dating back 3,000 years ago. This actual physical evidence gives Peru the bragging rights of being the culture with the first known evidence of this popular activity.
In the Polynesian islands, the art of surfing was first noted during the voyage of Captain James Cook in the mid-1700s. It was an integral part of their lives and culture, with the chief typically being the most skilled surfer and the ruling families having access to the best beaches and surfboards. With the arrival of European missionaries to the islands in the early 1800s, many Polynesian traditions and leisure activities such as surfing were discouraged and forbidden including on the island of Hawaii. Surfing almost completely disappeared by the 1900s, with only a few Hawaiian devotees managing to continue the sport and practice of fashioning surfboards.