Paddle an Outrigger Canoe and Participate in a Part of Hawaii's Heritage
By Kathy Englert
Spring and summer in Hawaii are the season of outrigger canoe racing. If your accommodations on Maui have a view of the ocean you will quite likely see a few of these distinctive boats gliding along the coast in the early morning and early evening through the fall.
Outrigger canoes were developed by the ancient Polynesians for inter-island travel. The lightweight streamlined design is similar to the large, sturdy double hulled sailing canoes that Polynesian settlers used to travel to Maui and the other Hawaiian islands from their homes in the South Pacific.
South Maui has a few canoe clubs. Maui Canoe Club and Kihei Canoe Club launch from Sugar Beach in North Kihei, Wailea Canoe Club from Cove Park in South Kihei. Visitors are welcome to join paddlers at the Kihei and Maui Canoe Clubs as guest paddlers for a small fee. Guests are invited to join the Kihei Canoe Club for paddling, whale watching, and fun on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30am for about 90 minutes. Maui Canoe Club welcomes guest to paddle Monday through Friday at 7:15am and 8:15am for about 60 minutes.
Sugar Beach has plenty of parking available and it's only a few minutes from our Maui condo rentals. After a morning of canoeing, treat yourselves to a lovely brunch at one of the many fine restaurants in Maui or head back to your Kihei vacation rental; our Maui vacation rentals all feature full kitchens, perfect for making pancakes or french toast.
Outrigger canoe racing is the official state sport of Hawaii, and there is a rich cultural element to the sport. These are great events for the entire family. Pack a lunch, bring some sunscreen and chairs and cheer for the crews as the navigate a course of buoys, waves, and other canoes as quickly as they can. Pre-season racing begins in April, the regular season begins in June and continues through Mid-November. Most races are held on Saturdays on the North Shore or in West Maui. However, there are a few races in South Maui:
- The Paddler's Open at Sugar Beach on April 2nd
- The Moki Kalanikau Regatta at Sugar Beach on July 16th
- On September 9th a long distance race will run from Kihei, route TBA