One of the cool parts of travelling is being able to experience things that are part of the culture you are visiting. Before I went to Hawaii, a neighbour recommended us to have a go on an Outrigger Canoe at Waikiki Beach while visiting Oahu. Outrigger Canoes are similar to a narrow dug out canoe but with a giant stabiliser on one side. In Polynesian cultures as well as a method of transport, they are used in racing too!
Outrigger Canoe Waikiki
This isn’t an experience that requires booking. When visiting Waikiki Beach, you won’t be able to miss the canoes, they are bright yellow and sit on the sand, just out of reach of the sea, on the end of the beach furthest away from Diamond Head. You go up to the guy and he’ll just wait until there’s enough people to be able to take the canoe out. I visited in mid September and it was full to capacity (10 people including the ‘guide’) within around 15 minutes.
It’s very similar to a mix of white water rafting and surfing (but in a canoe rather than on a board!). My canoe was 50% women and 50% men, a mix of old and young…including one little boy! 6 people were given a paddle, so expect to work! Just like rafting, you are given a ‘side’. Every now and then the guide will shout ‘CHANGE OVER’ to then paddle on the other side to keep it going in a straight line. It’s quite tough going, you have to paddle out a fair way to get behind the waves, try to pick a day where the waves aren’t completely flat!
Once in position, the guide will use his super surfy senses to detect when the best wave it going to come along, the canoe gets spun round and then the magic happens! The adrenaline picks up, the guide will be shouting ‘PADDLE PADDLE PADDLE PADDLE’ like a crazy person and what starts out as completely flat sea begins to build into a wave, the paddling continues at a fast pace until suddenly the wave takes control!
The power behind the wave is immense, everyone stops paddling and sits back to enjoy the ride. It’s fast, it gives you a rush and it’s so cool being able to ride the wave with surfers either side of you…plus looking back towards Waikiki is pretty special.
For $10 per person, the trip gives you 3 wave rides. This is great because you’re dealing with nature so it gives you 3 chances to catch the perfect wave! Some are of course going to be bigger and better than others! It was also about the right amount of time, by the end of the 3rd wave my Dad (who was a paddler!) was exhausted…I was happy to paddle but at least it gave me the chance to capture the whole experience with my GoPro! The YouTube footage can be found below, it shows part of the paddle out and of course a couple of the wave rides!
You will also have to join in and help push the canoe into the water and back up onto the beach at the end.
Location: Waikiki Beach, Oahu – Hawaii
Cost: $10 per person
Duration: Around 30minutes/3 waves
Level of fitness: Easy to Moderate
What to wear: I wore swim gear, my dad wore his normal clothes. You do get a bit wet, sometimes the waves will splash up over the side of the canoe.
Hawaii is amazing for water and adrenaline sports. Do you have a favourite Hawaiian experience or bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!