Outrigger Canoeing in Hawaii | Gliding on Water

One of Hawaii’s iconic cultural pastimes is outrigger canoeing. Here in the islands, there are numerous canoe clubs and events catering to the sport. The most serious of hobbyists have months of organized practices, followed by regional, state, and international regatta competitions. While racing is one facet of the sport, paddlers will also surf their canoes when the conditions are ripe.


While this is a year-round activity throughout the islands, the subdued seas on the North Shore of Kauai open up a seasonal playground for those with paddle in hand, and throughout the summer months, you will often see these beautiful boats cruising along the coastline.


Why We Love It

We asked one of our dear friends, an avid outrigger paddler, his three favorite things about being on the water in this way:

First of all, the glide. These are completely streamlined vessels, and when your crew finds their paddling rhythm and this rhythm converges with the forces of the moving swells, it really feels like you are flying – an ironic sensation considering the physical exertion required to reach such a state.

Second, is the instant release from anything on land. These boats are narrow and not at all elevated. The ocean surrounds us on all sides and its only us, our paddles, and the canoes. It’s the best way I know to detach from daily distractions.

Lastly, it is the beautiful perspectives you get to experience from the canoe that you don’t see from land. Namolokama and the Hanalei mountains and beach are spectacular even from land, but witnessing the landscapes that Kauai has to offer from the sea is like seeing them for the first time. The highlights, shadows, and lines are all different from at sea.

Whether it’s for the reasons above or for one of the countless other reasons why experiencing outrigger is a blessing, there’s no doubt this is another one of the great gifts that the Hawaii life has to offer.




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Photo credit: Getty Images, Allen Mozo, Madison Shaffer, and Nique Miller

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