1960s Cowabungas

mariposima, 2011

This sub-culture began in the late 1950’s but popularised in the 60’s. It refers to the group of people who follow surfing and its lifestyle. Surfing intially started in the Polynesia.


History of surfing

Marcus, B

An ‘art form’ as it once was called, began in the late 18th century in Polynesia. In Hawaii surfing (he’e nalu, its Hawaiian name) was followed by a spiritual ceremony where surfers would  pray in front of the ocean. 

Tongas King Taufa 'ahau Topou IV surfing, Fonua, P


In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th official state of the US after being a Non-Self Governing Terrority on the United Nations list since 1946. There was a statehood vote in Hawaii with an approval of 94%, although there were controversies of the racial divide.

Hawaiian flag which incorporates British and American influences

The Landless Farmer, Slims, A


Pendleton shirt, Quiet American 2010

White Levis

  • sandals
  • baggies (large boxer shorts)
  • hair was generally long and naturally bleached

Surfer slang

Shaka sign




“My boyfriend’s always wearin’ white Levi’s…and his tennis shoes and his surfin’ hat and a big plaid Pendleton shirt.”- White Levis by The Majorettes, 1963 White Levis by The Majorettes

Misirlou by The Del Tones

Surfin’ USA by The Beach Boys


Novel Gidget was made into a movie and highlighted the surf culture.

Gidget the movie, 1959


Surfers magazine founded by John Severson in 1959, published in California



The Woodie

The Woodie was the main means of transport for Cowabungas as it was spacious enough to carry surfboards!

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