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Canoe Surfing: The Coolest Way to Ride the Waves in Waikiki

5/27/2022

Surfing an Outrigger Canoe

When you think of the iconic waves on Waikiki, one thing usually comes to mind: surfing.

But did you know there’s a beyond-the-surfboard way to ride the tourmaline waves? Canoe surfing is the cool sport of ancient kings and queens. Done on an outrigger canoe or a canoe with two outriggers or long poles on each side, this one-of-a-kind adventure has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. And it's become one of the best ways to spend a weekend in Waikiki.

Read on about this old-meets-new way to play in the Pacific.

Hei he waa: The History of Canoe Racing

Originally created for fishing and transporting supplies and people across the region’s jagged lava rock and often treacherous waves, the outrigger canoe has become a symbol of Hawaiian culture and respect for the ocean.

Called "hei hei wa'a," outrigger canoe racing was invented in the Aloha State and was popularized among the Hawaiian chiefs in the 18th century. But with the shift from traditional Hawaiian to more European ways of life, the sport was banned for a period of time by Queen Ka’ahumanu under this influence.

In the 1970s, the sport reemerged when late artist, historian, and Polynesian Voyaging Society founder Herb Kawainui Kane created a replica of the outrigger canoe that completed six major voyages over the course of two decades. Outrigger canoe racing has become a symbol of aloha—and the official state sport of Hawaii.

The Outrigger's Resurgence

Today, when you arrive at spots across Oahu, you'll see the outrigger influence.

At Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, you're greeted by Kalele, a 100-year-old outrigger canoe at the resort entrance. An outrigger canoe is the heart of the resort's new exhibit from Hawaiian artist Kamea Hadar, an oversized mural called I Ka Wa Ma Mua, Ka Wa Ma Hope (Through the Past is the Future). And you’ll see outrigger canoes on the waters in front of Waikiki Beach—one of the only places in the world where you can ride this traditional vessel today.

Go Canoe Surfing Yourself

Join with friends and family to try this one-of-a-kind Waikiki experience yourself. Your captain will guide you as you paddle together to catch a wave, and you'll feel the wind in your hair—and get splashed!—as you speed towards shore in outrigger style.

Check out Faith Surf School right at the beach in front of Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort for the ultimate outrigger canoe experience (up to 6 people; ages 8 years plus), and stay at the resort for the weekend (or longer) for easy access to all the water adventures, plus special deals and more.

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Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort | Hawaii
  • Home of Hawaiian Music, Kani Ka Pila Grille
  • Renovated modern guest rooms
  • Immersive cultural activities
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Hawaii’s first and only craft hotel
  • Home of The Beachcomber Originals
  • Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, Waikiki’s most Instagrammed coffee shop
  • Island’s longest bar at Maui Brewing Co
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort | Hawaii
  • Beachfront location
  • Home of Duke’s Waikiki
  • Hawaii’s best live music venue, Blue Note Hawaii
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
Waikiki Malia by Outrigger |Hawaii
  • Intimate retreat for adventure seekers
  • Easy access to Waikiki Beach
  • Choice for value-minded families and groups
  • Spacious guest rooms and studios
  • Offering connecting rooms and kitchenettes
OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger | Hawaii
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  • Steps to Waikiki Beach and International Market Place
  • Onsite restaurants – Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar and Tanaka of Tokyo
Airport Honolulu Hotel | Hawaii
  • Only half a mile from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
  • Pet friendly
  • Convenient for business travelJust minutes from Pearl Harbor
Waikiki Shore by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Only resort condo directly on Waikiki Beach
  • Sweeping panoramic ocean views
  • Family friendly
  • Perfect for extended stays
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Regency on Beachwalk Waikiki by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Intimate, boutique style condo resort
  • Situated in the Waikiki Beach Walk shopping and dining district
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Honua Kai Resort & Spa | Maui
  • 38 tropical beachfront acres
  • 3-acre aquatic playground
  • AAA Four Diamond Award accredited
  • Luxury, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites on Kaanapali Beach
The Kapalua Villas Maui | Hawaii
  • Located on 22,000-acre Kapalua Resort
  • Choose from 3 beaches and 11 restaurants
  • Ocean and golf room views
  • Offering two magnificent golf courses
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Palms at Wailea Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Located within the world-famous Wailea Resort community
  • A short drive from the Shops at Wailea and beaches
  • Near Wailea’s most renowned restaurants
Royal Kahana Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Ocean view of Molokai and Lanai
  • Boasts oceanfront pool
  • Private lanai
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Kaanapali Maui at the Eldorado by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Fronts the fairways of Kaanapali Beach Resort
  • Short walk from Whalers Village
  • Featuring three swimming pools
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Aina Nalu Lahaina by Outrigger | Maui
  • Boutique-style condos in heart of Lahaina
  • Two blocks away from Front Street
  • Walking distance to shops and restaurants
Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Offering stunning views of Lanai and Molokai
  • Newly renovated condos
  • Oceanfront on property dining at the Gazebo Restaurant
Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa Kauai by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Heated river pool running through two-acre property
  • Features flumed water slides
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Kiahuna Plantation Resort Kauai by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Cottage-style beachfront condos
  • Complimentary access to Poipu Athletic Club
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Lae Nani Resort Kauai | Hawaii
  • Oceanfront condos
  • Includes an ocean pool within a natural stone breakwater
  • Adjacent to the Coconut MarketPlace
Welcome to Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa
Watch the majestic manta rays that swim through Keauhou Bay. Or spend your day relaxing at the spa. It all starts here, on Hawaii Island.
Fairway Villa Waikoloa by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Guests treated to infinity pool and lava rock whirlpool
  • Surrounded by Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed golf course
  • Selection of on property dining options
Kohala Coast Vacation Rentals by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Five distinct properties to choose from
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
  • Close to upscale King’s Shops and Queen’s Market Place
  • Golf at Beach Course
Kanaloa at Kona by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Set on 18 oceanfront acres
  • Boasts 3 swimming pools and 2 tennis courts
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Royal Sea Cliff Kona by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Set on a lava rock bluff
  • Panoramic views of the Kona coast
  • 5-minute drive to restaurants and shops
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Castaway Island, Fiji Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Beachfront bures
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  • Wood-carving guest activity
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Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
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    Waikiki Beach | Hawaii
    • Famous for Waikiki Beach
    • Hike Diamond Head Crater
    • Take a historical journey at Pearl Harbor
    • Birthplace of legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku
    • Home to Iolani Palace, US’s only royal place
    Experience a gorgeous Maui sunset
    • Voted “Best Island in the US”
    • Home to Haleakala volcano
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    • Famous scenic stretch road to Hana
    • Mile long of sandy shore at Kaanapali Beach
    Beaches of Kauai | Hawaii
    • Nicknamed the Garden Island
    • Known for lush valleys, waterfalls and hiking trails
    • Has more beaches than any other Hawaiian Island
    • Most hiking trails than an other Hawaiian Island
    • Largest coffee plantation in the US
    Hawaii Island (Big Island)
    • Often referred to as the “Big Island”
    • Kilauea volcano is the most active and largest in the world
    • Known for black sand beaches
    • Grows most of the world’s macadamia nuts
    • Home to some of the world’s largest telescopes
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    • Beachfront bures
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    • Exotic cuisine featuring aromatic spices and fresh ingredient
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