An Outrigger Canoe Tour in Maui

Tuesday, July 04, 2017 Canoeing and Kayaking by Shannon Ullman

My trip to Maui, Hawaii involved a whole lot of pool lounging, beach sunning, and cocktail drinking. I mean, I was staying at a luxurious resort, and I really wanted to relax.

However, after spending a whole lot of time lounging around with a Kona beer in my hand, I had the urge to get active before my trip came to an end. And why not?! Hawaiian vacations aren’t always about melting into the private pool cabana and falling asleep into your Poke bowl day after day.

I Needed Some Activity In My Life

No, a little bit of activity seemed like the best way to literally get my feet wet and actually be a part of what I came there to see, nature!

As the name suggests, the Wailea Beach Resort where I was staying, overlooked the Pacific, and I spent my afternoons watching other guests canoeing out there on that sparkly water. They seemed to be having fun, and when I mustered up the energy to get off the sun lounger, I decided that I wanted to have that experience too.

The Outrigger Company

Since Wailea Beach Resort offered to set the entire experience up for me, it was easy to make it happen! The tour was run through Hawaii Outrigger Experience, and the guide met me on the resort grounds in South Maui.
Tours are run by local guides whose main objective is a mix between educating about Hawaiian culture, physically offering an experience that emulates how local Hawaiians once travelled, and allowing guests to get active while getting in a slight workout.

The Outrigger Canoe Experience On Land

  • History
  • Traditional chants
  • Hawaiian language lesson
  • Rowing instructions

The entire experience started out on the beach. We were met by our guide, a local Hawaiian, and he explained how the outrigger canoe was structured, and how it worked.

While I’ve taken canoe trips before, the outrigger was blatantly different, as it was thin, elongated, was balanced out by a rack on each side, and was made from natural material.

Our guide drew a diagram in the sand to help us understand how ancient Hawaiians used the sun, moon, and stars to navigate their outriggers around the Pacific, and he demonstrated how we should get in, out, and row.

We also got to learn a bit of the Hawaiian language, as he taught us the words for row, switch sides, and stop. Then, to put the final touches on the introduction, he blew into his conch shell, facing all directions of the island, and then walked into the waves to do one last Hawaiian chant before heading into the water.The Outrigger Canoe Experience On Water

The Outrigger Canoe Experience On Water

  • Sea life viewing
  • Rowing
  • History lesson
  • Storytelling
  • Coral viewing

Heading out into the waves, we followed our guide’s commands; row, switch sides, stop. I could see right down to the bottom of the sea, and while we coasted, our guide pointed out coral reefs and different types of fish that swam by.

He guided us close to the rocky shore to see the turtles, feasting on the seaweed and grass, and then took us further out to find more of them. The entire way, he gave us a history lesson on Maui and the smaller islands that surrounded it, always making sure to point out an emerging turtle face from the water.

We got up close and personal to the little guys too, getting near enough to touch them (touching sea turtles is actually illegal so resist the urge guys!)
The next hour was a whole mix up of rowing, sea life sighting and chatting with the SUP boarders that cruised by.

Once we headed back for the shore, we prepared ourselves to jump out of the canoe and help push it back to the beach before it was carried away by the surf.

Overall Experience of Canoe Tour in Maui

Paddling around Maui in an outrigger canoe wasn’t the most adrenaline producing activity on the island, but I certainly learned a tonne. Hawaiian culture and tradition are such dominant parts of an experience there, and I felt that the afternoon’s takeaway was a whole lot richer than just my sore arm muscles the next day!