What is the Shaka? – Origins and Meanings

The surf culture is here to stay and has built up its own characteristics and individuality.

Just as there is a typical language for surfers, surfers and fanatics of the specialty, the way of greeting surfers in general also has a special way.

It is called Shaka and is also known as “hang loose”; it is the characteristic greeting in the surfing world and is executed by extending the thumb and little finger, while the others remain closed.

In Surfcanarias we offer you the best destination to develop the practice of surfing, where you will experience the best sensations that Famara Beach gives us.

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What is the Shaka?

saludo surf shaka 2 1

This way of greeting, so popular among surfers and people in general, has been used for a long time by surfers and lovers.

Little by little it has spread all over the world and today we often see people who have nothing to do with surfing doing this characteristic greeting.

It consists of keeping the fingers, index, middle and ring fingers closed or shrunk while the thumb and little finger are extended.

Famous people all over the world such as sportsmen and women in general, actors, singers and even political figures have made this gesture their way of greeting the crowds in a colloquial way.

Even former President Barak Obama has been photographed once performing the Shaka.

How did the Shaka or Surf Greeting originate?

There are several theories about the popular Shaka, or surfing greeting, as to its origins or who first performed it.

According to a Hawaiian newspaper, the first person to execute the Shaka was Hamana Kalili, who had lost three of her fingers, precisely the index, middle and ring fingers during an accident at work.

Children began to imitate it and it gradually became a popular way of greeting.

Another theory about the origin of the Shaka relates it to the Spanish explorers and conquerors.

They seemed to bend their fingers and put their thumbs to their mouths as a gesture of friendship, representing the sharing of a drink with the natives of the islands they encountered upon arrival.

Other theories say it was the gesture made by whale fishermen when they caught one of these giants of the sea.

Some say that it is the representation of the letter W that is part of the word Hawaii and there are those who think that it is the shape of the lip of the wave falling into a tube.

With all these theories, the most widespread however, is that the Shaka is derived from the position of the hands used by Polynesian explorers and sailors to orient themselves to the stars while sailing.

How should the Shaka or Surfing Salutation be performed?

Being such a popular greeting, everyone does the Shaka in their own way, but we must tell you that there is a correct way to do the surfing greeting.

For this you must:

  1. Hold your hand in a fist
  2. Extend the thumb and little finger in opposite directions.
  3. It is a rule that the back of the hand must point to the recipient of the greeting; moreover, the gesture is executed with a slight movement or oscillation of the hand.saludo surf shaka 1

Where does the name Shaka come from?

Shaka is derived from a very popular advertisement from the 1960s. Lippy Espinda, a car salesman, used the gesture and pronounced the phrase “Shaka Bradah”.

Others believe that Shaka comes from “Shark eye”. The gesture of opening the hand with the thumb and little finger extended, were the representation of the shark’s head.

As the shark is one of the most respected animals in Hawaii, saying “Shark eye” or “Shaka” was considered a compliment and an honour.

What does the Surfing Salutation or Shaka represent?

Beyond the possible theories about the origin of the gesture and the name of the greeting, the most important thing is what it means and what it conveys.

Friendship, Understanding, Compassion and Solidarity are expressed by raising the thumb and little finger while keeping the other fingers closed.

In Surfcanarias we have 24 years of experience in the field of surfing. For all this we want you to be part of this unique experience, either because you are a fan of this sport or because you have simply decided to try it for the first time.

We are located in Famara Beach, Lanzarote (Canary Islands) where you can enjoy and experience the true concept of Famara Surf, thanks to its location in one of the best beaches in Spain.

In our center we have the best professionals in this sector, who will provide you with the best knowledge if you decide to venture into one of the famara surf camps that we offer in our surf school.

If you have any doubt you can contact us through the image below and we will solve it, we are waiting for you🏄 !!!!

AZUL INGLES Surfcanarias desde 1996