There are a plethora of activities to do on Maui. And while many of the land activities are exciting, the water activities are exciting and enchanting. One ocean activity found almost solely in Hawai’i is traditional outrigger canoe paddling.
A Little History
Outrigger canoes first arrived in Hawai’i around 200 A.D. In contrast to the six passenger canoes used today, the outriggers back then held up to eighty people. The fact that we use them for different reasons is a major contributing factor. In the old canoes people carried plants, water, and animals in hopes of finding land that could sustain life. These natural explorers followed the migration and flight patterns of the birds overhead as they voyaged. This brought them to the Hawaiian Islands.
The Ancient Boat Building Process
These canoes were built for battling the open ocean and are recognized for their lack of ornamentation. Because going out into the ocean was such a risky expedition, the whole process of the boat building involved the care and time of many people. First, a Kahuna or Hawaiian priest, would look for the perfect tree. The Kahuna followed the ‘elepaio, a Hawaiian forest bird, into the forest. They had to pay very special attention, if the bird was pecking at a tree that meant that the wood was rotting. Obviously that wood would not be solid enough to build a canoe. Once they found the perfect tree, the Kahuna would gather the canoe builders and they would get to work. They continuously offered prayers and blessings throughout the process.
Today we are blessed to be able to paddle in these canoes for leisurely purposes. Nothing compares to the experience of looking back at our beautiful island from the water. Or seeing the turtles swim beside the boat. No matter what side of the island it is on, riding in a Hawaiian outrigger canoe is an unforgettable experience.
So how can you go out on a Hawaiian outrigger canoe while visiting Maui? The Hawaiian Canoe Club in Kahului has paddling on Sundays for both members and non-members alike, from 7:30 am to 9:30 am. The cost is $10 per person. Also, on the first Sunday of every month, there is a potluck breakfast for everyone to enjoy after being out on the water. So hop in your Kihei Rent A Car vehicle and head on over to the Kahului harbor for a Sunday morning paddle.
We hope to see you there! http://hawaiiancanoeclub.org/