Hawaii: this is what surfing in Waikiki looked like back in the day

How do you say "surfing" in Hawaiian? Are there multiple Hawaiian expressions to say "wave"? Learn how to translate English surfing expressions into "Olelo Hawai'i" (Hawaiian language).

John R.K. Clark, author of "Hawaiian Surfing: Traditions From The Past", has extensively studied the presence of surfing in the Hawaiian language.

The sport of kings is richly portrayed in the Hawaiian culture. Historians have proved that surfing is intrinsically connected to the Polynesian archipelago.

That is why there are words, expressions and meanings for the whole wave riding universe. Naturally, in many cases, English names have similar - not identical - interpretations in the Hawaiian language, and vice versa.

"During the 1800s, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian writers described surfing as a 'national pastime,' a phrase that highlights the prominence surfing held among native Hawaiians," notes John Clark, in his must-have dictionary.

Traditional surfing language is a treasure of hidden meanings, so the "poetic interplay of words often makes translation into other languages difficult or perhaps impossible at time."

However, here's a short and concise English-Hawaiian dictionary of surfing expressions. For HTML reasons, we removed the macron (kahako) symbol and replaced the okina mark by a simple apostrophe. Try to say the words and dive into the spirit of Aloha:

Afraid - maka'u
Back of a wave - ha'i muku, halehale, halehale po'ipu, kawaha, po'ipu, puku, uhi, waha, wahawaha
Backwash - ha'i ka nalu a ho'i hou i waho
Barrel - ha'i muku, halehale, halehale po'ipu, kawaha, po'ipu, puku, uhi, waha, wahawaha
Base of a wave - konua, kumu
Beach - kahakai, kahaone, 'o, one, one loa
Beginner - 'akahi akahi, hemahema, holona, malihini, mea hawawa
Board - papa, papa alaia, papa he'e nalu, papa hoe he'e nalu, papa he'e one, papa kiko'o, papa la'au, papa lana, papa li'ili'i, papa olo, papa omo, papa pae po'o
Bodysurf - he'e umauma, kaha, kaha nalu, pae po, pae po'b
Break - kalana nalu (lineup), po'ina nalu (shorebreak)
Buoy - mouo, pua
Canoe - wa'a (outrigger), wa'a pakaka nalu (surfing)
Catch a wave - pae
Channel - kowa, kai kowa
Contest - heihei, ho'okuku
Coral - 'ako'ako'a, ko'a kea, puna, puna kea
Crest of a wave - 'ako, 'ako'ako, weleau
Curl - muku, 'opi
Current - au
Dawn - molehulehu
Dunes - pu'e one, pu'u one
Fin - kuhoe
Flat - nalu 'ole
Foam of a surfboard - papa lana
Harbor - awa, kai kuono
Help - kokua
Home break - nalu kama'aina, nalu o ka 'aina
Injury - 'eha
Lagoon - kai kohola, kua'au
Lifeguard - kia'i ola, po'e ho'opakele ola
Limestone - pa'akea
Lineup - kulana, kulana he'e nalu, kulana kai, kulana nalu, kulana nalu kupono
Longboard - pa loa, papa lo'ihi, papa nui
Lost at sea - nalowale
Nose of a surfboard - ihu, maka, po'o
Ocean - kai, moana, moana hohonu lipolopo (deep blue), moana lipopo (dark blue)
Outside - waho o kua nalu
Paddle for a wave - hoe, ka, oma
Paddle out - 'au
Rail of a surfboard - 'ao'ao
Reef - 'apapa, hapapa, laupapa, papa, papapa
Rescue - ho'opakele
Ride - he'e, holo, kakele, pae, pae pu
Ripples - 'ale'ale
River surfing - he'e pu'e wai
Sand - one
Sandbar - pu'e one
Sea - kai, moana
Sea spray - 'ea, 'ea'ea, 'ehu, 'ehu kai, huna kai
Seaweed - limu
Set of waves - kaka'i
Shaper - kahuna kalai papa alaia he'e nalu
Shark - mano
Shell - pupu
Shorebreak - po'ina nalu, po'ina one
Shortboard - pa poko
Shoulder of a wave - hokua, po'ohiwi
Skimboard - papa he'e one
Skimming - he'e one
Slide - he'e, lala
Sound of waves - 'a'ina nalu, halulu, haluku, kapo'o, nakolo, ne, nehe, 'owe
Sport - hana le'ale'a
Stand-up surfboard - papa hooe he'e nalu, papa ku
Stand-up surfing - hoe he'e nalu, ku hoe
Storm surf - 'ale'ale 'ino
Stormy - kupiki'o puleileho
Sun - la
Sunset - napo'o ka la
Surf, surfing - he'e, he'e nalu, kha, kaha nalu, kakele
Surfboard - alaia, kiko'o, olo, 'onini, papa he'e nalu, papa he'e nalu ha niu, papa hoe he'e nalu, papa ku, papa la'au, papa lana
Surfer - kanaka he'e nalu, wahine he'e nalu
Surf spot - kahi o ka nalu, kai he'e nalu, wahi he'e nalu, wahi nalu
Surf wear - lole 'au'au kai, malo kai, malo puakai, pa'u, pa'u he'e nalu, pa'u puakai
Swim - 'au, 'au'au, 'au hula'ana, 'aukai, 'au umauma, ho'au
Swimmers - po'e 'au'au kai
Tail of a surfboard - lemu
Tandem - he'e koko'olua
Tsunami - kai ho'e'e, kai mimiki
Wait for the wave - ho'olana
Wave near shore - nalu
Wave in open ocean - 'ale, opu, 'opu'u
Wet - pulu
Whale - kohola, kohola kuapu'u
White cap - kuakea
Whitewater - hu'a, hu'ahu'a, kapa kea, kuakea
Win a contest - eo, lanakila
Women of the sea - po'e wahine o ke kai
Wooden board - papa la'au

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The frequent exposure to salt, sun, and sand can easily stress your skin. Even if you're using a good sunscreen to prevent skin damage, it's important to hydrate your skin after each surf session to keep it supple and healthy.

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