For hundreds of years, surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture. Surfing may have first been observed by British explorers at Tahiti in 1767. Samuel Wallis and the crew members of HMS Dolphin who were the first Britons to visit the island in June of that year. Another candidate is the botanist Joseph Banks being part of the first voyage of James Cook on HMS Endeavour, who arrived on Tahiti on 10 April 1769. Lieutenant James King was the first person to write about the art of surfing on Hawaii when he was completing the journals of Captain James Cook upon Cook's death in 1779.
When Mark Twain visited Hawaii in 1866 he wrote,
In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing.References to surf riding on planks and single canoe hulls are also verified for pre-contact Samoa, where surfing was called fa'ase'e or se'egalu (see Augustin Krämer, The Samoa Islands), and Tonga, far pre-dating the practice of surfing by Hawaiians and eastern Polynesians by over a thousand years.
Matt Warshaw knows more about surfing than any other person on the planet. After five years of research and writing, Warshaw has crafted an unprecedented history of the sport and the culture it has spawned. At nearly 500 pages, with 250,000 words and more than 250 rare photographs, The History of Surfing reveals and defines this sport with a voice that is authoritative, funny, and wholly original. The obsessive nature of this endeavor is matched only by the obsessive nature of surfers, who will pore through these pages with passion and opinion. A true category killer, here is the definitive history of surfing.