What is an Alaia Surfboard?

Greetings, fellow surf enthusiasts! Today, we’re going to talk about one of the oldest and most challenging surfboards that ever existed – Alaia surfboard. Even though it’s been around for centuries, you might be surprised to find out that many seasoned surfers have never experienced the pure joy of riding an Alaia. That’s why we’re here to give you a 101 of this majestic board and all its amazing features. So sit back and relax, as we take you on

What is an Alaia Surfboard?

Alaia surfboard is a traditional style surfboard that originated in Hawaii. It’s a thin, finless board made from solid wood, usually of koa or paulownia tree. They were used by Hawaiian royalty as a symbol of status and were ridden by ancient Hawaiians in a standing position. Alaia boards require more skill to ride but can provide a more authentic surfing experience, making them a popular choice for traditionalists and experienced surfers alike.

What is an Alaia Surfboard?

If you’re a big fan of surfing, you probably already know that there are many types of surfboards. One of the most unique and oldest surfboards is the alaia. It’s a traditional surfboard that originated in Hawaii and was made from solid wood, usually of koa or paulownia tree. It has a simple, yet beautiful design and it’s mainly used by experienced surfers, and it requires quite a lot of skill to surf on an alaia board.

The History of the Alaia Surfboard

The alaia surfboard can trace back its origins to ancient Hawaii, where it was used by Hawaiian royalty as a symbol of status. The first surfers to ride alaias were ancient Hawaiians, who rode them in a standing position.

This surfboard was made from the magnificent koa tree or wiliwili, and it was shaped in a splint style. The board’s nose was thin, and the tail was completely round, so it was symmetrical in shape. It was also an extremely solid board, which made it durable and last longer than most boards we see today.

Alaia Surfboard Design

The design of an alaia surfboard follows a very traditional Hawaiian style. It’s a narrow, finless board, and it’s made of solid wood. The board is usually between 5-7 feet long and less than an inch thick. The bottom of the board is flat, and upward-curving rails on both sides form a distinct V-shape. The rails are much sharper than modern boards, which increase the board’s maneuverability and ability to make sharp turns.

Alaias are usually made from two types of wood, typically koa or paulownia tree. Koa is a rare type of wood known to last for decades, and its strength and durability make it an ideal choice for an alaia. Paulownia, on the other hand, is lightweight and easier to shape than koa, making it a more affordable option.

How to surf on an Alaia Surfboard

Surfing on an alaia is much more challenging than surfing on other boards. Without fins or a lot of rocker, alaias rely on the surfer’s skill and balance to keep them stable and maneuverable in the water. Here are some tips on how to surf on an alaia:

  • Start in small waves, and gradually work your way up to larger ones. You’ll need to learn how to paddle quickly and efficiently to catch larger waves on an alaia.
  • Stay low and balanced, with your arms up and extended. This will help control the board and make it easier to turn.
  • Keep your weight focused in the center of the board, and use your feet to shift your weight as you make turns.
  • Make big, sweeping turns, and use your body to steer the board through the water. It’s important to stay relaxed and let the board do the work.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Riding an Alaia Surfboard


  • There is nothing like riding a traditional alaia surfboard. It’s a unique and authentic surfing experience.
  • It’s an excellent tool for developing your surfing skills because it relies heavily on balance and agility.
  • Because of its maneuverability, an alaia board allows you to ride waves that might be too small for other surfboards.


  • Alaia surfboards are not easy to find, and they can be expensive.
  • Without fins, it’s challenging to surf in choppy or windy conditions.
  • As a narrow board, it’s unstable and requires excellent balance and agility.

Where to Find Used Surfboards for Sale

If you’re looking for an alaia surfboard, it’s best to check traditional surf shops and online stores that specialize in vintage surfboards. You can also look for used surfboards for sale on surfing community websites or online marketplaces such as Craigslist or eBay. Make sure you thoroughly inspect the board before purchasing to ensure it’s in good condition.

In conclusion, an alaia surfboard is a unique and traditional board that offers a surfing experience like no other. It requires a high level of skill and balance, but for experienced surfers, it’s a true test of their abilities. If you’re able to get your hands on one, give it a try, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about!

Why Should You Try Surfing on an Alaia Surfboard?

While alaia surfboards are intimidating at first, they offer a unique and authentic surfing experience. Here are some great reasons why you should give an alaia surfboard a try:

  • It’s an excellent way to challenge yourself and develop your surfing skills.
  • It offers an authentic surfing experience, similar to how the ancient Hawaiians used to surf.
  • Riding an alaia surfboard allows you to catch waves that might be too small for other boards.
  • You’ll stand out in the water and be the envy of all other surfers.

Where Can You Buy an Alaia Surfboard?

While alaia surfboards are becoming more popular, they can still be quite challenging to find. Here are some places you can look:

  • Traditional surf shops often have alaias for sale, or they can direct you to a specialty store.
  • Surfing community websites often have individuals selling their old boards, including alaias.
  • Online marketplaces such as Craigslist or eBay sometimes have alaias for sale, but make sure to buy from a reputable seller and check the board’s condition before purchasing.

Caring for Your Alaia Surfboard

Proper care of your alaia surfboard is essential to ensure it lasts a long time. Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Store your board in a dry, cool place when not in use, away from direct sunlight.
  • Keep the board clean by rinsing it with fresh water after each use. Avoid using harsh detergents or abrasives.
  • Condition the wood regularly with a natural oil, such as tung oil, to keep it from drying out and cracking.


Surfing on an alaia surfboard is a unique and authentic experience. While it’s not easy, it’s worth the effort to develop your skills and enjoy the challenge. Finding an alaia surfboard can be a challenge, but with some time and effort, it’s possible to add this classic board to your surfing quiver. So what are you waiting for? Grab an alaia surfboard and hit the waves!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about alaia surfboards:

1. What do you call someone who rides an alaia surfboard?

Someone who rides an alaia surfboard is commonly referred to as an “alaia enthusiast” or simply an “alaia rider.”

2. Are alaia surfboards expensive?

Yes, alaia surfboards can be expensive. They are usually handmade and require a lot of skill and time to produce, which drives up the price. However, you can find less expensive options made from paulownia wood.

3. Can anyone ride an alaia surfboard?

While anyone can try to ride an alaia surfboard, they are designed for experienced surfers due to their narrow and unstable nature.

4. How long does an alaia surfboard last?

If properly cared for, an alaia surfboard can last for years or even decades. They’re made of solid wood and don’t have any moving parts or fins that need to be replaced, so they’re very durable.

5. Why are alaia surfboards so thin?

Alaia surfboards are thin to allow for maximum maneuverability and to make it easier for the rider to control the board with their body weight.

6. What’s the difference between an alaia and a modern surfboard?

Alaia surfboards are thinner and lack any fins. They rely entirely on the rider’s skill and balance to make turns and stay afloat. Modern surfboards have fins, rocker, and a more curved shape, making them easier to surf on.

7. How do you paddle an alaia surfboard?

Paddling an alaia surfboard requires you to lie flat on the board and use your hands to paddle like a standard surfboard. You need to paddle quickly and efficiently to catch waves because the board is very thin and doesn’t have much buoyancy.

8. What are alaia surfboards made of?

Alaia surfboards are traditionally made from solid wood, usually from the koa or paulownia tree. Koa is the more expensive of the two due to its strength and durability, while paulownia is a lighter, more affordable option.

9. Can you duck dive on an alaia surfboard?

No, you can’t duck dive on an alaia surfboard because it’s too thin and lacks the buoyancy needed to push under waves.

10. Are alaia surfboards more challenging to ride than modern surfboards?

Yes, alaia surfboards are more challenging to ride than modern surfboards because they require a high level of skill, balance, and agility.

11. How do you turn an alaia surfboard?

To turn an alaia surfboard, you need to shift your bodyweight and use your feet to steer the board through the water