Many may not realize that today’s Bodyboard was created in Kailua-Kona, at Wai‘aha, a place commonly referred to as “Honl’s” (after the name of the family that used to live there.)
Wai‘aha (“Gathering Water,”) a little strip of white sand beach, just on the outskirts of Kailua Village, is now a County Beach Park. It is a popular surf spot, especially with bodyboarders.
Tom Morey was staying in the house that once stood on the beach at Wai‘aha in July 1971 when he made the first bodyboard (“boogie board”) prototype.
He first called the board “S.N.A.K.E.” (Side, Navel, Arm, Knee, Elbow – because all the body parts were involved in its use) – he trademarked the name Morey Boogie in 1973 and founded Morey Boogie in 1974. (He later called it a Boogie Board after his love of music.)
According to Tom Morey’s son, Sol Morey, “the first boogie board was created in 1971 in order to surf shallower breaks that couldn’t otherwise be enjoyed.”
“The surf at our Hawaii rental on the Kailua coast was where it began with the shaping and sealing of the foam to form the first boogie.”
Tom Morey was a traditional surfboard builder/shaper, but looked for inventions and innovation. In 1964, he created the first TRAF polypropylene fin (his term TRAF being FART spelled backward), innovating the first commercial interchangeable fin system. In 1965, the Skeg Works became Morey Surfboards.
In 1965, Karl Pope became his business partner and the name changed again — Morey-Pope Surfboards. They built, tested and marketed Pope’s Trisect, a three-piece surfboard that folded into a suitcase.
But he had different ideas in Kona; he used an electric carving knife and a household iron, whittled some scrap polyethylene foam into a small rectangular mat and covered it with newspaper and hit the swells in front of his home on the Big Island of Hawaii.
With it, the sport of bodyboarding started in 1971 in Hawaii. (Prior to 1971, bodyboards were made from wood or fiberglass and called paipo boards.)
According to Tom Morey, he took his last nine-foot piece of polyethylene foam (that he had planned for a conventional board) and “grabbed a knife and cut it in half.”
“There was no turning back at that point. I looked at the foam and then at the surf and began fooling around with a hot iron and an electric knife.”
“I found that I could shape the foam using the iron if I put a sheet of newspaper down on the foam first. Later that night, I drew a few curves on the foam with a red marking pen and went to bed.”
Morey rose early on July 9, 1971, and cut and ironed out his planned shape. He left his board as wide as possible and left the nose square so that it would have more structural strength and so he could hold on to it.
“I decided I’d shape the rails like those on a Hot Curl surfboard,” says Morey. “Those were the boards from the 20s and 30s; built before boards had skegs. I cut 45-degree Hot Curl rails into my board.”
“They looked great, but I still wasn’t sure how it would ride.” Morey grabbed his board, ran down to Honl’s and the sport of bodyboarding was born.
Wai‘aha is home to the annual Malama Wai‘aha (Honl’s) Roots Bodyboard contest. The contest (started in 2002) was formed to honor the birth-beach and the birthplace of modern bodyboarding (they held their 10th anniversary event on June 30.)
In 2006, the Hawai‘i County acquired the property fronting the beach and it is now part of the County beach park system. Parking for users is also mauka of Ali‘i Drive and was provided by a developer as a condition of a rezoning.
Morey Bodyboards became a division of Mattel Toys and then Wham-O. In 2005, Tom Morey earned a star on the Huntington Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame.
The image shows Tom Morey with the original S.N.A.K.E.; info and images from tommorey-com. In addition, I have added other images of bodyboards, Morey and Wai‘aha in a folder of like name in the Photos section.
In the centuries prior to 1778, seven large and densely-populated Royal Centers were located along the shoreline between Kailua and Hōnaunau on the Island of Hawai‘i.
The compounds were areas selected by the ali‘i for their residences; ali‘i often moved between several residences throughout the year. The Royal Centers were selected for their abundance of resources and recreation opportunities, with good surfing and canoe-landing sites being favored.
Chiefly residences are known to have changed over time and an ali‘i would expand or modify a residential complex to meet his or her needs and desires. (I included in an associated folder various changes of uses and scale of the site through mapping of the sites, noting the various stage of primary use.)
Traditional histories record the lands at Hōlualoa as a chiefly residence and Royal Center.
Three major occupation sequences have been identified based on the association with various ali’i: AD 1300 (Keolonāhihi), AD 1600 (Keakamahana and Keākealaniwahine) and AD 1780 (Kamehameha I) – it appears very likely that the Hōlualoa Royal Center grew and changed over time.
Hōlualoa offered a wealth of agricultural products from the Kona Field system, offshore marine resources and the surf site off Kamoa Point in Hōlualoa Bay.
The Hōlualoa Royal Center was split into two archaeological complexes, Kamoa Point/Keolonāhihi Complex and Keākealaniwahine Residential Complex.
The Hōlualoa Royal Center contained a total of several heiau structures that were constructed and dedicated for a range of religious functions that are representative of Hawaiian cultural traditions and practices.
The functions of these heiau include surfing (Hale ‘A‘ama), warrior training (Kanekaheilani Heiau), medicine and healing (Hualani Heiau), fertility (Mo‘ipe Heiau) and preparation of ali‘i for burial (Burial Heiau and Haleokekupa).
Oral traditions suggest that the Hōlualoa Royal Center was constructed as early as A.D. 1300 by the Chiefess Keolonāhihi and her husband, Aka.
Keolonāhihi was either the daughter or niece of Pā‘ao. Pā‘ao brought the Kū religion, along with a highly stratified social system, to Hawai‘i from Tahiti, circa AD 1300.
These sites included the women’s features (Keolonāhihi Heiau, Hale Pe‘a and Palama), the sports heiau (Kanekaheilani) and the grandstand at Kamoa Point to view the surfing and canoeing events in Hōlualoa Bay.
Keākealaniwahine’s Residence, the 16-acre mauka parcel with its 28 recorded archaeological sites – this complex contains many religious sites, including three heiau.
Much of the site’s history relates to the occupation of the Royal Center by Chiefess Keakamahana and her daughter, Chiefess Keākealaniwahine, in the 17th Century. These two women were the highest-ranking Ali‘i of their dynastic line and generation – traditional histories suggest they expanded the compound mauka.
The residence of Keakamahana and Keākealaniwahine is believed to be the large walled enclosure on the mauka side of Ali‘i Drive.
Later, Kamehameha lived with his mother Kekuiapoiwa II and his guardians, Keaka and Luluka, at Pu‘u in Hōlualoa during the rule of Kalani‘ōpu’u.
At Hōlualoa, Kamehameha learned to excel in board and canoe surfing (circa 1760s to early 1770s.) “Lyman’s” at Hōlualoa Bay remains a popular surf spot, today.
Later, Kalani‘ōpu’u took Kamehameha to Ka‘u and there is no evidence that Kamehameha maintained a residence at Hōlualoa during his reign.
Kamehameha used the Keolonāhihi complex for religious purposes; after his rise to power, he stored his war god, Kūkaʻilimoku, at Hale O Kaili in the Hōlualoa Royal Center.
While I was at DLNR, we submitted nomination (and received) designation of the Hōlualoa Historic District and expanded the site through the purchase of an adjoining property.
In addition, we were involved in discussions that ultimately led to the BLNR approval of a Curator Agreement for the Keolonāhihi Complex with the Betty Kanuha Foundation.
The Hōlualoa Royal Center was one of the important Points of Interest in the Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan that we prepared.
The image shows the general layout of the two complexes (Kekahuna – Bishop Museum – DLNR.) In addition, I have added other images and maps of the Hōlualoa Royal Center in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook page.