Pacific Passages: An Anthology of Surf Writing
352pp. May 2008
Pacific Passages: An Anthology of Surf Writing
Editor: Moser, Patrick;
A thousand years after Hawaiians first paddled long wooden boards into the ocean, modern surfers have continued this practice, which has recently been transformed into a global industry. Pacific Passages brings together four centuries of writing about surfing, the most comprehensive collection of Polynesian and Western perspectives on the history and culture of a sport currently enjoyed by millions of people around the world. The stories begin with Hawaiian legends and chants and are followed by the journals of explorers; the travel narratives of missionaries and luminaries such as Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Jack London; and the contemporary observations of Tom Wolfe, William Finnegan, Susan Orlean, and Bob Shacochis.

Readers follow the historical transformation of surfing’s image through the centuries: from Polynesian myths of love to Western accounts of horror and exoticism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to modern representations of surfing as a character-building activity in pre-World-War II California and the quintessential expression of disaffected youth. They explore the sport’s most recent trends by writers and cultural critics, whose insights into technology, competition, gender, heritage, and globalism reveal how surfing impacts some of today’s most pressing social concerns.

Aided by informative introductions, the writings in Pacific Passages provide insight into the values and ideals of Polynesian and Western cultures, revealing how each has altered and been altered by surfing—and how the sport itself has shown an amazing ability throughout the centuries to survive, adapt, and prosper.

"This gem of a book provides just about the best historical overview of surfing, and surf writing, you are likely to find anywhere. . . . This kind of thoughtful, revealing, sensitive contemplation of the surfing life seems like an antidote to the times we live in. I loved this book, if only for the way it helped illustrate that the current buzz and chatter of web silliness is just one very small point on a long, long continuum. Thank goodness for that." —Surfing World Magazine (Read the full review here.)

"A vast well of hitherto tough-to-find works documenting the pre- and just-post contact surf milieu in the Pacific. . . . The more modern morsels provide some welcome surprises, including excerpts from William Finnegan’s New Yorker output, National Book Award winner Bob Shacochis, and writer’s writer Tom Farber. Snap this one up." —Surfer’s Journal (17:5, October-November 2008)

Editor: Moser, Patrick;
Patrick Moser is associate professor of French at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, where he teaches a course on the history and culture of surfing. He has published articles in Surfer, Surf Life for Women, and The Surfer’s Journal. He collaborated with 1977 world surfing champion Shaun Tomson on Surfer’s Code: 12 Simple Lessons for Riding Through Life.

Visit the author’s Pacific Passages web page:

Read the introduction (PDF).


Part I. Surfriding in Polynesian Culture
1. Samuel Mânaiakalani Kamakau, "Kelea-nui-noho-‘ana-‘api‘api"
2. King David Kalâkaua and Roland M. Daggett, "The Story of Laie-i-ka-wai"
3. William Westervelt, "A Surfing Legend"
4. William Westervelt, "A Shark Punished at Waikiki"
5. Clarice B. Taylor, "Faithless Lover Is Turned to Stone"
6. Mary Kawena Pukui and Alfons L. Korn, "Name Chant for Naihe"
7. Nona Beamer, "‘Auhea ‘O Ka Lani (Where is the Royal Chief?)"
8. Rerioterai Tava and Moses K. Keale Sr., "Ka Hui Nalu Mele: The Surf Club Song"
9. Mary Kawena Pukui, Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings

Part II. Explorers, Missionaries, and Travelers (1769­–189­6)
10. John Papa ‘Αî, "Activities in Court Circles," from Fragments of Hawaiian History: Kuokoa

11. Sir Joseph Banks, An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere
12. William Anderson, A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean
13. Charles Clerke, The Journals of Captain James Cook on his Voyages of Discovery
14. William Ellis, An Authentic Narrative of a Voyage Performed by Captain Cook and Captain Clerke in His Majesty’s Ships Resolution and Discovery
15. David Samwell, The Journals of Captain James Cook on his Voyages of Discovery
16. George Gilbert, Captain Cook’s Final Voyage: The Journal of Midshipman George Gilbert
17. James King, The Journals of Captain James Cook on His Voyages of Discovery
18. John Douglas, ed., A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean
19. William Bligh, The Log of the Bounty
20. James Morrison, The Journal of James Morrison, Boatswain’s Mate of the Bounty
21. Peter Puget, A Voyage of Discovery to the Northern Pacific Ocean and Round the World, 1791–1795

22. Hiram Bingham, "Mission at the Sandwich Islands"
23. William Ellis, Narrative of a Tour through Hawaii
24. William Ellis, Polynesian Researches
25. W. S. W. Ruschenberger, Narrative of a Voyage Round the World
26. Charles Wilkes, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition
27. Hiram Bingham, A Residence of Twenty-one Years in the Sandwich Islands

28. Herman Melville, Mardi and a Voyage Thither
29. Henry T. Cheever, Life in the Sandwich Islands
30. Chester S. Lyman, Around the Horn to the Sandwich Islands and California, 1845–1850
31. Samuel S. Hill, Travels in the Sandwich and Society Islands
32. Sophia Cracroft, The Victorian Visitors
33. J. Waiamau, "Ancient Sports of Hawaii: Such as Surfing, Jumping, Sledding, Betting and Boxing"
34. Mark Twain, Roughing
35. Abraham Fornander, Honolulu Directory and Historical Sketch of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands
36. Isabella Bird, The Hawaiian Archipelago: Six Months among the Palm Groves, Coral Reefs and Volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands
37. Henry Carrington Bolton, "Some Hawaiian Pastimes"
38. Anonymous, "Hawaiian Surf Riding"

Part III. Surfriding Revival (1907–1954)
39. Jack London, "Riding The South Seas Surf"
40. Alexander Hume Ford, "Aquatic Sports"
41. M. Leola Crawford, Seven Weeks in Hawaii
42. George Freeth, Article from The Evening Herald
43. Tom Blake, Hawaiian Surfboard
44. C. P. L. Nicholls, "Lessons in Surfing for Everyman"
45. Thomas C. Zahn, "Surf boarding from Molokai to Waikiki"

Part IV. Youth Culture (1957–1979)
46. Frederick Kohner, Gidget
47. Tom Wolfe, "The Pump House Gang Meets the Black Panthers—or Silver Threads among the Gold in Surf City"
48. John Witzig, "We’re Tops Now"
49. Mickey Dora, "Mickey on Malibu"
50. Kevin Naughton, Craig Peterson, and Greg Carpenter, "Centroamerica"
51. Kimo Hollinger, "An Alternate Viewpoint"
52. Jack McCoy, "We’re Number One—Interview: Ian Cairns"
53. C. R. Stecyk III, Articles from Skateboarder Magazine
54. Erik Aeder, "Indonesia: Just Another Paradise"

Part V. Surfing Today
55. Bruce Jenkins, "Laird Hamilton: 20th Century Man"
56. Steve Pezman, "The Cat’s Ninth Life . . . On Visiting Miki Dora Near the End"
57. Susan Orlean, "The Maui Surfer Girls"
58. Steve Barilotti, "Lost Horizons: Surf Colonialism in the 21st Century"
59. Matt Warshaw, "Winterland: Fred Van Dyke, and the Blissful, Stressful, Unpredictable Life of the Older Surfer"

Part VI. What Is Surfing?
60. William Finnegan, "Playing Doc’s Games—I"
61. Thomas Farber, On Water
62. Daniel Duane, Caught Inside: A Surfer’s Year on the California Coast
63. Mark Jarman, "Ground Swell"
64. Richard Katrovas, "The Surfer"
65. Richard Robbins, "Surfing Accident at Trestles Beach"
66. Allan C. Weisbecker, In Search of Captain Zero
67. Bob Shacochis, "Return of the Prodigal Surfer"