Many extreme sports look hard. Mountain climbing looks like a rocky, rugged activity. Most people would not say that parachuting is a breeze. However, one sport has a more relaxed reputation. Suntanned surfers seem easy going and relaxed, but this sport is demanding, too.

Captain King was the first westerner to ever describe surfing. In his journal from his journeys with Captain Cook, he wrote about surfing in March 1779. He described the natives of Hawaii as they swam out to sea in groups of twenty or thirty. They all carried long, narrow boards. The natives stretched out on their boards and rode them back to shore on top of enormous, curling waves. The greatest danger was when the natives approached the shoreline, which was riddled with rocks. Captain King wrote, "The boldness...with which we saw them perform these difficult and dangerous maneuvers, was altogether astonishing."

Fun-loving Hawaiians have surfed for centuries. Even ancient petroglyphs, or rock carvings, on lava formations had pictures of prehistoric surfers on them. Hawaiian chants that go back to about 1500 A.D. tell stories about great surfing feats. Hawaiian chiefs used their surfing skill as a way to prove their strength. This helped them to impress their people.

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