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Article: The Golden Years of Ho'okipa

Painting by Patrick Dunne

“In 1936 my family moved from Lower Pāʻia to Kūʻau. I was singing with the Royal Hawaiian Band, but in 1937 I left them to come home. One day my sister and I decided to walk over to the park. We were curious to see what it looked like.”

“A friend of ours was the park keeper, and when we arrived, she had just finished her poi lunch and had fallen asleep under the hau trees. The peacefulness and beauty of the entire scene inspired me to write ‘Hoʻokipa Park Hula.’”

“The kids from Lower Pāʻia and Kūʻau were already surfing here, so I mentioned surfing in the song. The ʻ46 tidal wave destroyed the area and completely changed it. The wide beach and many of the hau trees were lost, and the high wall there today was built to prevent further damage.” (Alice Johnson, January 27, 1978; Clark)

“Surfing on Maui really came into prominence with the formation of the first ‘Ho‘okipa Surfriders Club’ at Ho‘okipa Park some 25 years ago (1935). Meetings were held each month at the Ho‘okipa Park Pavilion and the County of Mui erected a surfboard locker to hold 50 surfboards.”

“Surfing was then confined to just Ho‘okipa Park and Kahului Harbor and the surfboards used then were made of solid redwood weighing from 60 to 75 pounds each. Then years later the hollow surfboards made of plywood became very popular.”

“These too were quite heavy but they were longer than the redwood type and much easier to pick up waves. On Kamehameha Day in the year 1939, surfboard paddling races were held between the piers at Kahului Harbor.”

“Surfing died off for awhile on Maui until the Meheulas moved to Maui from Honolulu and introduced the new Malibu type balsa wood boards. This type proved to be very popular and today (1960) there are over a hundred of these boards on the island.”

“They are very light compared to the oldtime surfboards and thereby faster on the bigger waves and their maneuverability were terrific. Surfing thus came to be more exciting and thrilling and the challenge on bigger waves became greater.”

“Today there are over 18 surfing beaches on Maui and Ho‘okipa is rated by the Californians to be one of the best anywhere.” (Uchimura, June 18, 1960; info from Lind)

“Maui Agriculture leased the land for the park to the County of Maui in 1933 and in a land exchange conveyed title to the Territory of Hawai’i in 1947. The name Ho’okipa means ‘hospitality.’”

“The surf offshore from Ho’okipa Beach Park provides surfers with waves almost all year round, as the reefs pick up both summer and winter swells. The most spectacular waves, however, occur during the winter and often reach heights of ten to fifteen feet.”

“This tremendous surf is some of the best on Maui. … A small building that served as a clubhouse and a set of surfboard racks were donated and constructed in the park by Harold Rice”

“Foremost among the charter members were two brothers, Donald and Teruo Uchimura, who have both been avid surfers as well as great promoters of the sport of surfing since the founding of the club.” (Clark)

In the early 1970s, windsurfing was introduced to Hawai‘i. (Clark) Today, Ho‘okipa Beach Park remains the epicenter of the windsurfing world.

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