Hawaiian Surf Culture – The ‘Shaka’ or ‘Hang Loose’ Sign


Most of the people here in Morocco, especially in Taghazout are united with one common hobby; one common culture – surf culture! We are charmed by the ocean and waves. We start our mornings with yoga exercises to prepare our body and mind for surfing. Thereafter, we go to the beach, greet other surfers with a strange combination of hand gesture called Shaka, then take our boards and run to the ocean.

Do you know what exactly this gesture means?

In this blog we want to share some information with you about this greeting, which looks like you have only two fingers – a thumb and little finger. You can see it every day and everywhere – at photos, in the hostels, on the beach, on the wave, people use it both to say Hi and Good bye, to express both pleasure and sadness. It’s like the part of a culture. We tried to find out where this Shaka’s origins come from and why it is so popular among surfers in particular.

First of all, this gesture comes from the Hawaiian Islands. And it is well known that Hawaii is all over the world surfers’ mecca with the best spots! The place where you can find good waves all the year round. Among surfers it is always a positive and relaxed atmosphere when you don’t have to rush anywhere, just enjoy the life and surf, be alone with the ocean not worrying what is happening around. It is the main philosophy of surf culture and exactly the meaning of Shaka gesture: « Relax, take it easy, don’t worry and be happy!» Like a symbol of islands’ ocean life.

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Some people say that Shaka started from the story of one of the first surfers who was attacked by a shark once and lost his 3 fingers in that fight. Then he signalized about the triumph in the fight with his remained two fingers and it was the beginning. Another theory says that earlier it was on Polynesia islands that colonizers punished the local surfers with cutting the fingers off. It was the forefinger for the first case of riding, middle finger for the second one and third finger if a local was caught for the third time. They kept only two fingers for slavery so that people were able to take the load or the tool for working into their hands.

Another version is connected with one Hawaiian workman Kalili Haman who had an accident at sugar factory where he lost his 3 fingers. And then he always used that injured hand for greeting people. Local children liked this gesture a lot and started to use it as well. That way it became spread around all the Hawaii islands.

No matter what theory to consider true – anyway the Shaka gesture has its roots in the times of first surfers who are the native beach inhabitants and ocean conquerors. That’s why it is so admired among surfers! Shaka, friends! And new adventures with Adventurekeys surf camp!