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Surf’s Up at Honolulu’s Bishop Museum

Popular surfing exhibit in Honolulu, Hawaii to extent into October 2020

Honolulu’s Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, a must-visit destination for first timers interested in learning about Hawai’i’s history and cultural background, will extend its popular surfing exhibit until Oct. 25. The change is a direct result from travel restrictions due to COVID-19 put into place by many countries, as well as the state of Hawai’i. This will give more visitors the chance to enjoy it at a later time.

Dedicated to the sport of surfing, invented by Polynesians and popularized in Hawai’i, “Mai Kinohi Mai: Surfing in Hawai’i” opened in December of last year in the museum’s Castle Memorial Building.

It begins with a tribute to legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku and a collection of his surfboards as well as others that were own by Hawaiian royalty, like Princess Kaiulani. The size, material, and weight of many of these surfboards used centuries ago are quite surprising, especially to today’s surfer. Some are nearly three times the size of a tall person, and their weight would make them prohibitive to carry to only the strongest person.

Some of the oldest surfboards known to exist on the planet are on display. Part of the messaging with the exhibit is how surfing was an outdoor sport for everyone, not just for those that could afford it. Surfers today will find this a fascinating and informative experience, and many visitors have told the museum they traveled to Honolulu for the express purpose of seeing the exhibit.

An evolution of the surfboard itself helps visitors understand the dynamics and physics of the sport. There is even a surfing simulation that gives visitors the sensation of surfboard movement in the water.

Other interactive stations show just how waves are formed in oceans and how surfers know what kind of waves will provide the best ride. The exhibit has gathered all kinds of rare memorabilia, photographs, and videos that immerse visitors into the history of surfing and how it has evolved into an Olympic sport.

This summer was to be the first Olympic Games event to feature an official surfing competition. That was part of the inspiration behind getting the exhibit up and running now, say museum officials.

Bishop Museum is a short drive from Waikiki’s stretch of famous hotels and resorts as well as Honolulu’s bustling downtown business district. The exhibit can easily be enjoyed within an hour (although there is a lot more to see at Bishop Museum for first timers) making this a great lunch-break activity for business travelers. Families, too, will find this to be an educational way to learn more about the islands during a visit to O’ahu. If you have a longer layover while connecting through Honolulu (like four hours or more), this could be a great way to pass the time if you have had your fill of beaches.

If you can’t make it to the museum, there are plenty of historic photos and memorabilia on display at Duke’s Waikiki, a popular bar and restaurant located right on the shores of Waikiki.

While these are challenging times for everyone, this exhibit is both informative and engaging making it worth a visit should you find yourself on O’ahu in the near future. Until then, the museum has plenty of online resources to enjoy and view while you plan your next trip.