The history of surfing (and skateboarding, too) is creatively documented in the museum exhibits with photos, interpretive placards, photos, boards of all ages, sizes, and design, and other surf lifestyle memorabilia. The first exhibit provides an interesting timeline of the history of surfing.
In 1778 when Captain John Cook first sighted the Hawaiian Islands, he saw a man riding the waves on a piece of wood. Cook's artist documented the sight and surfing was introduced to the Western World. Born in 1890, Hawaiian legend, Duke Kahanamoku, is considered the Father of Modern Surfing. A superb athlete, he won numerous gold medals in swimming spanning 20 years in the Olympics. His epic ride of a giant wave in Oahu on a 16' surfboard for over a mile made history. Here are some photos of the display featuring great surfers.
Greg Noll (born 1937) was a mythic big wave surfer who founded the world's largest surfboard factory in the early 1950s. He produced five "Search for Surf" movies and is easily identified in the films wearing his iconic black and white striped "jailhouse" board shorts.
Bethany Hamilton, born to surfing parents in 1990, began surfing a a young age in Hawaii. In 2003 she lost her arm below the shoulder to a 15' tiger shark while surfing in Kauai. She nearly died of blood loss but was back in the water in just 3 weeks. She adapted to a new style of surfing and through sheer determination came back to win the 2005 NSSA National Championships. This is the board she was on when the attack happened. She continues to surf competitively and is in demand as a motivational speaker.
The exhibit, A Brief History of Surfboards: Solid Wood to Foam and Fiberglass starts with two alaina boards made of koa wood in Hawaii. The smaller was used by young girls/women and the larger (9'11") by men. The next photo is of Duke Kahanomaku's wooden surfboard circa 1910. The wooden boards were carefully dried, oiled, and hung up to dry after use each day. Boards are displayed chronologically while some are hanging from the ceiling. Very cool!
Don't miss the surf wax collection displayed in a case. It provided traction on the board. Paraffin is the main ingredient for surf wax along with beeswax, resin, plastics, etc. It was first used in 1935 by individual surfers. By 1965 it packaged and sold in California.
The Tom Blake Perpetual Trophy (1928-1941) was awarded to the winner of the Pacific Coast Surf Riding Championship that was held near Newport Beach, CA. Other memorabilia of the era can be seen in the display case.
This plaque commemorates a long-time tradition of surfers, burial at sea. Known as a paddle out, sometimes thousands of surfers participate and gloriously ride the waves to shore following the "service" (flowers, prayer, eulogy, etc.)
On a lighter note, here is some fun "pop culture" surfing merchandise from the 1960s.
Bodysurfing (riding waves without a board) equipment: swim fins for your feet and hand boards (aka hand planes) allowing the rider to ride higher and faster on a wave.
Be sure to step outside to check out the Secret Spot, an area where Oceanside artist, John Lamb, painted murals to pay homage to his first animated film, "Secret Spot."
The museum has added skateboarding history to their collection. Following are some interesting ones on display.
- Crate Scooter (early 1900s) made of scrap construction lumber and da fruit crate with roller skate trucks.
- G&S Fibreflex (1964) with Bo-Tuff top/bottom and 3-ply maple center laminate.
- Hobie (1965) made of oak hardwood.
- Andy Irons' Thruster (2002), foam and fiberglass.
The Coastal Data Information Program has an extensive network for monitoring waves along the coastline of the US. They buoys that are positioned off-shore makes surf conditions available to the public. Below is a map of the buoys off in Southern California.
There is a very nice gift shop with surfing-themed merchandise at the front of the museum space. We enjoyed browsing and bought some small stuff to send to family. The admission to this museum is $5/adults; $3/seniors and is well worth it.
After visiting the museum we took we strolled down to the Oceanside Pier and beachfront. This is the 6th pier (1987) built in this location (the first in 1888). It is 1,954' in length and made of wood.
Rudy's is a restaurant at the end of the pier. The lifeguard stand and a bait shop are also located on the pier. This fisherman (and their are many on the pier) had just caught this octopus (poor thing!). This egret was very content to let me take his picture. At the end of the pier we saw these kayakers enjoying the beautiful Pacific.