Surfer in Residence: Pōhaku Stone
Guests got to "hang ten" with surfing legend Tom ‘Pohaku’ Stone when he dropped by the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort for a storytelling last week. Some of the guests, who dreamed of riding tubes with one of the world’s top surfers, even seized the chance to join Pohaku for a free surf session after the chat.
The November edition of the Surfer In Residence program started off by the historic canoe in the lobby with a story-telling session about the history, culture and spiritual aspects of Hawaiian surfing and mountain sledding. Next was a quick tour of the resort’s surfing displays before the group headed out for an unforgettable surf session.
Pohaku is a former pro-surfer, waterman, craftsman and educator has dedicated his life to Hawaiian surfing; which elevates ‘heʻe nalu’ from a fun recreational sport to an artform. Surfing is an age-old ritual and spiritual practice for many Hawaiians, as this icon of the Waikiki surf scene will explain. From selecting wood from three types of native trees in culturally-significant spots to the ancient ritualism of shaping the wood into a new form with traditional tools – not to forget asking for a divine helping hand from the gods with catching the best waves – Pohaku explained how there’s so much more to it than meets the eye.
Pohaku also shared some ‘gnarly’ tales about the lionized first generation of ‘Waikiki Beachboys’ including the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku, who’s credited with popularizing the activity as Waikiki emerged as Hawaii’s top resort destination. Pohaku has been surfing since age four and was lucky enough to rub shoulders with Kahanamoku in the 1950s.
Inspired by his childhood heroes, Pohaku rose to fame as a pro-surfer and gained a master’s degree in Pacific Island Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa; specializing in ancient Hawaiian sports and discovering more about his Hawaiian heritage in the process. Pohaku has also been able to use his status to help promote and honor ancient Hawaiian surfing traditions. He single-handedly revitalized the extreme sport of heʻehōlua (Hawaiian mountain sledding). This thrilling sport takes place on lava gravel pathways leading from volcanoes down to the sea.
Waikiki Beach’s surf is ranked amongst the best in the world so there’s no better place to learn all about it than nestled on the golden sands at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Several Hawaiian sport artifacts are on display at the resort, where Pohaku talked story, including a wooden koa canoe, hand-crafted over a century ago as well as canoe art, Hawaiian literature, and artifacts from the Bishop Museum.
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