Maui > Activities > Hawaiian Outrigger
Maui Sailing Canoe
Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Review
Over a millennia ago, Polynesian voyagers embarked on the longest ancestral ocean passage in human history. Expert navigators used only the wind, waves, and stars to guide them across 2,400 miles of open ocean, from the Marquesas Islands to a strange new land: Hawaii. The voyage would not have been possible without sturdy outrigger sailing canoes capable of withstanding weeks at sea. And while an endless stream of businesses hosts ocean activities on Maui, only one celebrates the time-honored tradition of outrigger canoe sailing: Maui Sailing Canoe.
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My Maui Canoe Sailing Experience
From their home base at Polo Beach fronting the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui Sailing Canoe invites visitors aboard their modern outrigger canoe for a snorkeling excursion unlike any other. Hawaiian traditions are woven into the experience— from launching the canoe straight from the sand to learning proper paddling protocol.
Recently, I was invited to climb aboard Maui Sailing Canoe’s vessel for a whip around the Wailea coast. When I arrived at Polo Beach, I had no trouble locating my group. After all, it was impossible to miss the canoe resting on the sand— its fiberglass hulls gleaming in the morning sun and the red triangular sail reaching skyward.
Following a quick introduction, owners Sage and Liz Spalding quickly got things underway, detailing traditional navigation techniques, canoe construction, and paddling traditions. It was clear the duo’s knowledge of Hawaiian history and the ocean runs deep. Soon, our small group of six was pushing the canoe off the beach and gliding into the calm morning waters off Wailea.
As we coasted into the blue, some guests lazed out on the canoe’s trampolines while I and a few others helped paddle. Sage, a lifelong competitive canoe paddler, quickly showed us proper paddling protocol and offered tips along the way. Having grown up in the islands, both Sage and Liz shared stories of their upbringing and tales of Hawaiian mythology, history, and geology.
We sailed along the Wailea Coast until we reached a secluded, protected cove. Light winds and little ocean current made for excellent snorkeling conditions. Beneath the surface, butterfly fish darted between yellow coral heads as a pair of sea turtles cruised unhurriedly around the reef, munching at algae. The absence of tour boats, crowds, and the fact that we reached the reef aboard a Hawaiian sailing canoe made us feel like we had stepped back in time to old Hawaii.
On the return trip, I realized that Maui Sailing Canoe offers something not only special but vital. The excursion sheds light on facets of Hawaiian culture that, at one point, were nearly lost. Very few ocean tour companies on Maui allow visitors a glimpse into Hawaiian culture in such an interactive way. If you’re looking for a fun, immersive Hawaiian experience, Maui Sailing Canoe’s outrigger canoe tour is second to none.
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