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The History of The Shaka

Surfboard rental the Big Island of Hawaii

The shaka is associated with surfing, surf culture and the spirit of Aloha.

The shaka sign is a hand gesture that is often associated with surfers, surf culture and Hawaii. The shaka is made by extending the thumb and pinky fingers and curling in the three middle fingers and waving or rotating the hand back and forth.

The shaka has many meanings including, hello, goodbye, nice job, how’s it going, and hang loose. It is also a way that Hawaiians show aloha and friendship. There are several different theories about how the shaka sign came to be.

One theory is that the shaka came from the way Hawaiians held leis (necklaces made of flowers) when placing them around the necks of others in an Aloha style greeting. The three middle fingers hold the lei from over the top while the small finger and thumb rest under the lei to help spread it open.

Another theory about the origin of the shaka is that a sugar mill worker, Hamana Kalili lost his three middle fingers while working at the mill. The mill transferred Kalili to guard duty and Kalili’s “all clear” wave of thumb and pinkie evolved over the years to the shaka through kids imitating his unique hand wave.

Share your thoughts on what the shaka means to you. Feel free to include photos of yourself throwing your best shaka.




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