Surfing crosses all borders, be it physical, social, or economic. Surfing promotes a sense of connection and camaraderie amongst those out on the ocean. People are out on the ocean waves for the common goal of temporarily harnessing the power of the wave. Through surfing, people learn to read the oceans and swells, and appreciate and respect the environment they are spending so much time in. Surfing based organizations such as Surfrider Foundation teach environmental programs, have beach cleanups, and organize many other events, all centered around the protection of the worlds oceans.
Surfers also discover a deep respect for their own bodies, and develop a much improved self confidence. Their health becomes so important to them, as it takes strength, stamina, and mental agility to be at one with the ocean.
As one man wrote about his physical and mental improvements:
“Surfing really made me quit smoking because I was having shortness of breath when I was trying to catch waves. It burned when I took a deep breath. So it didn’t take me long to realize that surfing didn’t go along with smoking , so I quit. I couldn’t smoke in the water and it was a great place to commune with nature and feed my addictive personality fresh air and sunshine. Also I found that drinking didn’t go well with surfing, I was sluggish and lethargic when I would drink even beer the previous day. So I stopped drinking all together. It didn’t make me feel that good anyway. So I replaced smoking and drinking with surfing. I became healthier and eventually happier. Probably because I was more active and I wasn’t abusing my body as much.”
From a social standpoint, surfing has roots far deeper than many of the sports today. The Hawaiian people integrated surfing into their culture and made surfing more of an art than anything else. They referred to this art as heʻe nalu, which translates into English as “wave sliding.” The art began before entering the mysterious ocean as the Hawaiians prayed to the gods for protection and strength to undertake the powerful mystifying ocean.