Outrigger Canoe

July 2, 2016 | Stefanie DiMartino


Tour from Hawaiian Paddle Sports

To book a Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Tour visit their site or call (808) 442-6436

I briefly considered moving to Maui multiple times. In high school, I even begged my parents to let me attend college at the University of Hawaii. Alas, I ended up going to school in the hustle and bustle of NYC. There is nothing I regret, however, paddling a Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe in the aqua blue waters with attractive tour guides (who at one point scooped a passion fruit out of the sea for us to enjoy on our trip) did make me question my life choices.

Outrigger canoes first arrived in Hawaii in 200AD from the island of Tahiti. Some boats could carry up to 80 people and were filled with items such as edible plants, water, and animals to make the journey safer for the brave explorers that would dare the month long voyage. Although our journey was significantly shorter (aka not even a mile) and our supplies included snorkel gear, my trusty GoPro, and snacks (always essential!), I couldn’t help but feel that I was reaching through time as our guide chanted a blessing to the sea before we pushed the canoe into the rushing waves.

Being the type of person that doesn’t listen, right off the bat, I missed my guide’s handy call for me to sit in the boat on time and I ended up doing an awkward side twist into the boat (see video for that gem of an entrance). We all ended up safe and sound, save for my knee that had some “beautiful” Hawaiian sunset colored bruising on it the next day.

When Hawaiians first stepped foot on the island, they discovered that canoes could be carved from the massive Koa tree. From that day on, all canoes were constructed this way. Finding the Koa required the help of the kahuna’s (Hawaiian priest) little friend, the ‘elepaio, or Hawaiian forest bird. Since the ‘elepaio was attracted to rotting Koa wood, if the bird began pecking at the tree, that meant the wood was not solid and the tree would be useless for the strong structure it took to build a canoe. Once finding the perfect tree, the kahuna would then gather the canoe builders and workers, staying throughout the building process to offer prayers and blessings.

Although we did not see any Koa trees on our journey (there are few left due to deforestation), our island guides gave us insight into the wildlife, land, and even the local food scene (more on that in “Maui in 8 days”). From surfing the waves, to swimming with sea turtles, we did it all on this three hour adventure.

The outrigger canoe and snorkel tour is an adventure that sends you through time, with layers of history, and beauty. It’s an experience I’ve described as The Little Mermaid meets Pocahontas: a journey the young and old could safely handle, that the ladies will enjoy (hello guides!), and that ends at the exclusive Ritz Carlton Resort (oh hey beach side cocktails!)

That is an oversimplification. But it’s also my way of telling you that you should do it. It defies expectations.

EVERYONE should experience it. Experience more.

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