No one is exactly sure where and when stand-up surfing began, but there is no doubt that over the centuries, the ancient sport of "he'e nalu" (wave sliding), was perfected by the Kings, Queens, men and women of the Sandwich Isles (Hawaiian Islands) long before the 15th century A.D.
Of all the Hawaiians that surfed, it was the Ali'i, or chiefly class, who claimed the highest reputation for surfing. They had their own prayers, chanters, board shapers, wood, and even beaches, where alone, they could surf with others of the similar rank. Men and women who were not Ali'i did not dare to drop in on any of their waves, or even challenge the chiefly class, because that meant death, or at least, a near death experience.
Because surfing was strongly accustomed by the Ali'i as well as the maka'ainana (common people), it received high respect in ancient Hawaii.
Acclaimed surfers were honored and often got special privileges. Their characters as leaders in their class depended partly on their strength and stamina. Surfing was used for training as well as a severe challenge to keep them fit for the physical requirements of their chiefly duties.
In 1753, the Hawaiian Islands were blessed with a legend, one who would become the most powerful King of Hawaiian history and would become one of the greatest surfers ever. King Kamehameha the great was renowned as "the king of surf".