The entrance foyer at the Kona Inn in the heart of Kailua Kona used to display this solid collection of classic wooden surfboards from the 1940’s to 1970’s. No longer on display at the inn-turned-restaurant, these surfboards represent the heritage of surfing as we know it today. This display gives a nice representation of the different styles of surfboards in use at the time when surfing was transforming from a few locals to thousands of people all over the world.
Surfing has been in Hawaii since before Western contact. The first Westerners to the islands likely saw surfboards in the prized possessions of the alii, the royalty. Fast forward to the mid-1900’s and surfing had grown into a small community of a couple thousand people worldwide, and the boards had changed from roughly carved Koa wood to more shapely, smooth, and polished surfboards. Even with the newer designs though, the boards often still weighed more than 100 pounds.