One of the origin stories of the indigenous Haida people begins just a few steps from the surf.
Naay Kun is a long talon of sand that arcs out to sea from the northeast corner of Haida Gwaii, an isolated island group that sits 30 miles south of the Alaska panhandle and 60 miles off the Canadian mainland. As one version of the tale tells, the ancient trickster Raven was walking the beach there, when he happened across a clamshell that had been washed up on the sand. Coming closer, he found the first humans sheltering inside, timid about the outside world. After he coaxed them out of their shell, and then created the male and female sexes, Raven’s new creatures set off to inhabit their new land—this beautiful archipelago whose name translates to “the islands of the people.”
Mythological status aside, Naay Kun also just happens to be one of the best beach breaks anywhere north of California, with abundant swell A-framing over steep, current-sculpted sandbars. Bringing the story full circle, this unique spot near the village of Masset is also one of the places where Haida surfer, carver, and artist Gwaliga Hart is embracing his heritage while finding new ways to honor the legacies of his people.