Spotlight On: International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach

Posted June 16, 2014 by Evan McNerney
Kelly Slater’s autographed surfboard from his 10th world championship

Huntington Beach, California, has been an iconic staple in the surfing world for as far back as people can remember. Take a stroll down the boardwalk and you will come to realize why the area is better known as, “Surf City, USA.” From local competitions to the US Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach has played host to a variety of shows and contests geared towards surfing and its culture.

A few decades ago, a lady who’d never surfed decided she wanted to preserve the city’s rich surfing history. The late Natalie Kotsch, an avid surf enthusiast, fell in love with the inviting culture surrounding the sport after moving from a place where surfing was almost unheard of – Canada. The culture shock made a deep impression in Kotsch’s mind, and she never looked back.  And in 1987, she helped established the International Surfing Museum.

Located between Main Street and 5th Street off Olive Avenue, the museum showcases a vast variety of surf memorabilia. Walk through front door and the first thing you will see is a statue commemorating the “Father of Surfing,” Duke Kahanamoku, whom the museum is dedicated to.

Statue of the Duke Kahanmoku, known by many as the ‘Father of Modern Surfing’”

Enter a little farther and you will run into original movie posters of famous cult classics like “Ride the Wild Surf,” “The Endless Summer” and “Big Wednesday.” Hanging right next to these pieces of memorabilia is a signed platinum Beach Boys album.

The rest of the museum is like being in a time capsule. From surfboard designs dating back to the 1930s to sand collections from around the world, this exhibit is quite a site to see. The most extensive part of the showroom is the “wall of champions.” Here you will find plaques honoring surfers such as Robert August, Corky Carroll, Kelly Slater and the late, great Andy Irons.

Kelly Slater’s autographed surfboard from his 10th world championship

2014 marks the 100-year anniversary since George Freeth surfed the very first wave at the Huntington Beach pier. The International Surf Museum, in connection with the city, is honoring 100 years of surfing with its “100 Stories of Surfing” exhibit on June 21.  

The museum is a true representation of Huntington Beach’s rich surfing tradition. Great for small corporate gatherings and family visits, the exhibit is a must-see whether you are on vacation or in town on business.

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