Princes of Surf

We are a city of surf; but the story behind the name doesn’t start with us. It begins with Three Hawaiian princes in 1885.

Exhibited from July 3, 2015 to November 29, 2015

Uncover the story of three Hawaiian princes who brought surfing to Santa Cruz.

In the summer of 1885, David Kawananakoa, Edward Keli’iahonui and Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole introduced surfing to the world beyond Hawaii. They rode Santa Cruz waves. Crafted surfboards from our redwood lumber. When the brothers returned to Hawaii, they took their boards with them.

July 2015 is the 130th anniversary of their epic ride. Two of the three original redwood surf boards will return to Santa Cruz.

The impact of their stay rippled from coast to coast and shaped the cultural identity of Santa Cruz County. See the boards that rode on our waves. See the boards that set the course for developing our unique cultural identity.

Artifacts on loan from The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Hawaii.

Bob Pearson

“When they took [the surfboards] out of the box, my heart was fluttering”

Bob Pearson — Surfer, Surfboard Shaper


"Over a century ago, three Hawaiian princes surfed Santa Cruz’s San Lorenzo River mouth — the first instance of the sport on the U.S. mainland — riding 'o’lo' boards shaped from Santa Cruz redwood."

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"130 years ago this Sunday, three Hawaiian princes paddled their redwood surfboards into the ocean at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River and introduced surfing to the mainland."

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"They are the paintings on the cave walls at Lascaux, Shakespeare’s first folio, Babe Ruth’s first bat. They are the First Surfboards."

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Our Sponsors

Princes of Surf is made possible by the History Forum and Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society

Get Inspired Today

Princes of Surf may have come and gone, but there's plenty to discover in our current exhibitions.