Herman Kekina and Little Girl of O`mao

Story and photos by Pam Woolway

As many as 300 surf enthusiasts gather monthly for the Water Sports Swap Meet on the front lawn of the Hanalei Center, formerly the Old Hanalei School Building.

Inspired by a similar sale on Maui, Hanalei Surf Company owner, Charlie Cowden, launched the swap meet 28 years ago.

“After a big windsurfing event, all these guys from Europe would dump their equipment before heading home,” Cowden said. “It gave me the idea to do it here.”

The first swap meet he organized was in front of the Hanalei Dolphin. The rest is history. On the first Saturday of the month for the last 20 years, watermen and women have gathered on the lawn to swap more than boards and boats.

There’s a mellow party vibe, as buyers and sellers cruise with paper cups full of coffee and often a canine companion.

“It’s my favorite day of the month,” Cowden said. “I see old friends and even surfboards I made 30 years ago show up. There’s always historic museum pieces.”

There’s one rule governing the sale:

“No new stuff allowed,” Cowden said. “Used water sports equipment only.”