In 1850, a Hawaiian named Malo, wrote much about his people, including a chapter on surfing. He states that ancient Hawaiian surfers rode solid Koa wood hewn boards believed to have been between twenty-four and eighteen feet long.
In 1929, Dr. N.B. Emerson, who translated Malo's work, made the following comments: "Surfriding was one of the most exciting and noble sports known to the Hawaiians, practised equally by king, chief, and commoner. It was not unusual for the whole community, including both sexes and all ages, to sport and frolic in the ocean the live long day. While the usual attitude was reclining on the board face downward, such dexterity was attained by some that they could maintain their balance while sitting, or even while standing erect, as the board was borne at full speed of the inrolling breaker."
Dr. Emerson also writes: "The longest surfboard at the Bishop Museum is sixteen feet in length and weighs 250 Lbs. It is difficult to see how one of greater length could be of any service. One is almost inclined to doubt the accuracy of Malo's statement that it was four or even more fathoms in length."
Hawaiian Surfboard Champion (1930), Thomas Edward Blake, wrote in 1931: "It is safe to assume that the first Hawaiians brought the art of riding the waves with them from the South Seas (Hawaii is in the North Pacific, contrary to what most people "know" to be the case), where they seem to have come from, as surfing with a board in the Marquesas Islands is mentioned by Frederick O'Brien in his book "White Shadows of The South Seas."
Blake goes on to remark, "From the stories of oldtimers, I gather that in the past surfriding was a sport common to all the Hawaiian Islands. This is very easy to believe, as there is good riding surf to be found in several places at each island; but Waikiki beach alone is today the only place in Hawaii where people ride the surf. However, Waikiki is not the only place in the world. The single () other known place is at Balboa, California. Duke first rode there twenty years ago; today some fifteen or twenty boys enjoy the sport in summer time only."
Times surely have changed!