Surfing in waterproof board shorts on a fibreglass board are both relatively new innovations but surfing itself is an ancient sport of Hawaiian chiefs. Oahu has always been known for excellent surfing. In ancient times when Honolulu was still known as Kou, there was a famous surf break near what is now Ala Moana Beach Park. It was called Ke-kai-o-Mamala or the Mamala Sea.
Mamala was an ancient surfing legend. She was a high ranking chiefess in life but at some point she changed into a giant surfing lizard - a mo’o. From that point forward she could change into the form of a beautiful woman or a fierce lizard. Hawaiians say that she would surf in both forms - one thing for sure - you wouldn’t want to drop in on her wave!
They say that she would paddle far out into the ocean where the waves were high and rough and then she would ride the waves into the shore where the old Honolulu (Kou) residents would cheer and applaud. Her husband, Ouha became jealous of all the attention showered on her and challenged her to a surfing competition. She easily defeated him and then mocked him in front of all the people.
Being thus disgraced and humiliated in front of so many people was so terrible to Ouha that he lost his human form and turned into a shark god that would prowl the waters between Kokohead and Waikiki looking for surfers to eat!
The Hawaiians have a beautiful chant in which they remember and honor Mamala. Translated it reads:
Blowing the waves into mist.
Into little drops,
Spray Falling along the hidden harbor
There is my dear husband Ouha
There is the shaking sea, the running sea of Kou
The crab like moving sea of Kou
Prepare the awa to drink, the crab to eat.
The small konane board is at Hono-kau-pu
My friend on the highest point of the wave
This is good surf for us
My love has gone away
Smooth is the floor of Kou
Fine is the breeze from the mountains
I wait for you to return.