Ride an Outrigger Canoe
Hawaii was settled more than 1,600 years ago by Polynesian explorers, probably from the Marquesas Islands, who navigated double-hulled sailing canoes with no instruments over thousands of miles of open ocean to reach landfall in the islands. These vessels were originally crafted out of Koa wood to glide lightly through rough waters with either single or double support floats, or outriggers, to provide durability. Outrigger canoes are still being made today, although the building techniques and materials have changed, the voyaging tradition of the ancient Polynesians still remains. You can enjoy the historic experience of riding an outrigger canoe in Kailua Bay.
A small company called Kona Beach Boys conducts historic outrigger adventure tours, paddling passengers through the water as they talk about the myths and legends of Hawaii’s kings, queens and gods. These personalized tours range from narrated canoe rides to sunset tours, to the Ali’i tour that combines a canoe ride with a walking tour of Hulihe’e Palace. Private, guided tours may also be arranged. Kona Beach Boys tours are a good way to get a personalized lesson in Hawaiian history from guides who have put together their material from acknowledged experts.
Another way you can sneak a peek at outrigger canoes in action is to check out one of the many outrigger canoe races and regattas that happen frequently across the island’s shores. Outrigger canoe racing has become a popular sport in Hawaii. Hundreds of paddlers work out as teams prepare for the next race. Like hula, it’s a cross-cultural activity based in traditional Hawaiian practices.
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