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Surfing is an impressive, exciting, and enjoyable sport that many people across the globe practice every day. However, have you ever found yourself wondering where did surfing begin, or who invented surfing? 

There is strong evidence to suggest that surfing has been around for at least three thousand years, maybe even more. “He’e ‘ana”, meaning to surf, played an integral part in many Polynesian cultures. 

The cultural impacts surfing had on Polynesian communities starts from the spiritual ritual of crafting the board to warriors training on their boards, and just like today, ancient surfing was a recreational pastime for the upper class in Polynesian communities. 

In saying that, surfing as it’s known today looks a lot different from when it was first discovered by Europeans. 

European Discovery 

While surfing was an integral part of the Polynesian culture long before European discovery, it was first documented in European history books by Joseph Banks.  Banks sailed aboard the HMS Endeavor, captained by James Cook and documented what he observed during his stay on the island of Tahiti in 1769. 

Fast-forwarding a couple of hundred years and surfing’s modern history has been shaped by three major locations across the globe:

  • Australia
  • USA (Primarily California)
  • Hawaii

Tom Blake used his modified redwood board to take to the waves in Hawaii and by 1930, his modified “cigar board” was the first surfboard to be mass-produced. Blake was also credited for adding the fixed tail fin, which increased the maneuverability and stability of the surfboard. 

Surfing Golden Years

Surfing really hit its peak in the ’60s and ’70s. This era saw the introduction of balsa and fiberglass into surfboard production, making them lighter and easier to use in the water. 

Not long after this introduction, the surfing community saw a huge boom as the experience that riders received was enhanced. Surfing leashes and an ever-growing range of surfboards allowed the surfing community to boom across the world. 

In the late 60’s and throughout the ’70s the coastline of Costa Rica became a new hub of surfing.  Home to some gigantic waves and sandbanks, the Central American nation offered near-perfect surfing conditions.  

Barranca and Doña Ana beaches became some of the most popular surfing destinations along the central pacific coast of Costa Rica and remain some of the hottest spots today. 

Modern Surfing Culture and Influences

As surfing became popular across the world a whole new community was developed and surfing became much more than a sport. Surfing began to find it’s cultural roots in Western nations by influencing fashion, music, art, and even ways of life. 

Individuals would relocate to live near the best waves and we now see the world traveled by champion surfers, hunting for their perfect waves. Today surfing has even been included as a summer Olympic sport and will make its first Olympic debut at the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in 2021.

 Have any Questions Around Where Surfing Started?

From surfing's conception some 3000 years ago to the present day, there have been a lot of cultural and practical changes. However, surfing has somehow still kept to its roots and remained a community driven activity, enjoyed by millions of individuals worldwide. 

If you have any questions around where surfing started or would like to experience a modern day surf trip, don’t hesitate to contact us today.