25 More wet and wild facts about surfing!

1. The heaviest wave in the world is called Teahupo’o in the southern Pacific Ocean. It breaks off the coast of a village with the same name on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia. Teahup’o can swell up to 23 feet high.

2. The name Teahupo’o loosely translates to “Sever the Head” or “Place of Skulls” and indeed, it’s considered one of the ten deadliest waves in the world. Since 2000, five surfers died trying to ride Teahupo’o.

3. A surfer named Mike Stewart was the first to ride fabled Teahupo’o in 1987.

4. Legendary surfer Kelly Slater begins each day with a “cocktail” of hot water and lemon.

5. The longest wave in the world is considered to be Chicama in Northern Chile. A surfer named Cristonal de Col once surfed his way to 34 individual turns or maneuvers on one single ride, setting a Guinness World Record!

6. The surf leash was invented or at least popularized by Pat O’Neill in the 1970s, grandson of the inventor of the wetsuit and surf legend, Jack O’Neill.

120727-jack-oneill-60-years7. Unfortunately, Pat’s grandfather was using the newly invented leash (or leg rope) while surfing one day when his board slingshotted back in his face, causing him to lose his eye. He donned an eye patch the rest of his days, becoming the iconic symbol of the O’Neill brand that still exists today.

8. The most widely used ways to measure the height of a wave are the Bascom Method and The Hawaiian Scale.

9. In 1976, Beach Boy’s singer Brian Wilson was “arrested” for failing to surf. The police that took him in custody (down to the beach and then making him surf) were John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, as it was all a funny promotional stunt.

10. A man named George Freeth is responsible for bringing surfing to California.

11. Born in Oahu in 1883, a wealthy industrialist named Henry Huntington saw him surfing while on vacation. He quickly invited Freeth back to Redondo Beach in southern California where he would take part in an amusement show as the “Man who can walk on water.”

12. The first official surf contest took place in Corona Del Mar, California in 1928.

13. There’s a formula to calculate how many waves you’ve surfed in your life:hiholi

(Number of Surfing Years x Average Number of Weekly Sessions x 52 Weeks of the Year x Average Number of Waves per Surfing Session) = Number of Waves Ridden in Your Surfing Career

14. The first surf movie ever made was “Hawaiian Holiday, an animated short released by Walt Disney in 1937.

15. Swells were used by early Polynesian sailors to help navigate when no other beacons were available, like at night or on foggy days.

16. The form and function of surfboards have sure evolved over the decades. In the 1920s, the first American surfboards in California (Hawaii wasn’t a state yet!) were made out of balsa hardwoods. By the late 20s, they added varnish to make them more waterproof.

17. The weight of boards decreased in the 1930s when they were first hollowed out, and in 1946, the first fiberglass board was designed.

18. Since 1958, surfboards are usually made of foam, fiberglass, polyester, and resin, often in a composite. They are easy to make, strong, and great for surfers…but not so good for the environment.

19. The Polyurethane foam used in many surfboards was first created during World War II as insulating agent for refrigerators and airplanes.

20. Surf Wax was invented by Alfred Gallant Jr. in 1935, a surfer in Los Angeles who saw what the wax did to his hardwood floors at home.

21. There are two kinds of surfing: short boarding and long boarding. Short boarding is more difficult because it requires more effort, but the added agility allows surfers to take more turns and perform more maneuvers.

22. There are plenty of famous people who are passionate about surfing, including famous British crime writer dukeAgatha Christie, Edward, Prince of Wales, Lance Armstrong, and plenty of Hollywood actors and actresses, like Cameron Diaz, who broke her nose four times while surfing!

23. Conversely, many surfers have broken into Hollywood and appeared in movies or TV shows. The list includes Duke Kahanamoku, who appeared alongside John Wayne, Miki Dora, Matt Archbold in Point Break, Slater and Machado as animated penguins in Surf’s Up, and Laird Hamilton in The Descendants.

24. Speaking of the iconic action/surf movie Point Break, actor Patrick Swayze broke four ribs while shooting surf scenes for the movie.

25. They say that surfers created the sport of skateboarding, as wave riders who couldn’t get their fix during off months threw some wheels on a miniature surfboard so they could practice by “surfing” empty backyard pools.


For our first 25 facts about surfing, click here.

Costa Rica has some of the best surf in the world! In fact, Costa Rica has been considered one of the best places in the world to surf for decades, attracting millions of visitors to the country’s 40 mapped surf beaches like Mal Pais, Dominical, Playa Hermosa, Playa Bejuco, Pavones, and many others around the Playa Jaco area. Send us an email and we’d love to give you more information and help you plan the perfect surf vacation!


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