While surfing is 100% a Hawaiian sport, it was California that exported it around the world. Whether it was Gidget, the Beach Boys, or Frankie Avalon who grifted the idea of surf culture away from Duke Kahanamoku or someone else, they did a great job of seeding said culture in the beach towns of Southern California. So now, surfers are thought of as blonde haired bros prone to using the word “dude” in places like Huntington Beach.
Huntington has embraced the image.
If you walk into the International Surfing Museum with a 10 year old child like I did, be prepared for the friendly woman behind the counter to do her best to convince the child to abandon any hopes of adult responsibility in pursuit of great waves- and to use the coupon on the back of your ticket stub for ice cream across the street. Her pitch almost worked on me but my child was unimpressed.
The place is small yet informative, with a good mix of information and artifact. There is a sculpture of the Silver Surfer, vintage Hawaiian planks, and a number of rash guards and trophies once worn or won by Eddie Aikau. Which is pretty much all you need for a top notch museum.
But Huntington’s offering is topped off by one large claim to fame, and by large, I mean Guinness Book of World Records large.
I normally ignore oversized objects mounted on poles outside stores, or museums, as props, but the giant surfboard mounted outside this museum once caught a wave and carried 66 people to shore. This seems about right.
To invest so heavily in an activity that is purely recreational for purely promotional purposes, is so very California. And I’m okay with that.