Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Adventures

Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Adventures

Sailing into Hawaii’s Heritage
Wailea, Maui, Hawaii, U.S.A.

Slicing through the waves in a “Hina,” a Hawaiian outrigger sailing canoe, you realize how vast the ocean is and get a taste of how the original Hawaiians must have felt as they sailed 2,600 miles (4,000km) across open sea from islands in the South Pacific to reach what we now call Hawaii. When the wind dies, everyone in the canoe grabs paddles and pitches in with full-bodied strokes until the Hina reaches a mooring spot on a coral reef. From here, you can jump into the water and take in the tropical aquatic splendor surrounding you—the colorful coral, the green sea turtle on the ocean bottom, the red urchins and the multi-hued fish swimming past. Looking back at the island from which you set sail, Haleakala, the dormant volcano that climbs up to 10,028 feet (3,008m) above sea level, towers over the white-sand beaches lined with hotels. Between the racing boat, the lush sea life all around you, and the dramatic view of the island, the excitement swells inside you.

Our pick for your outrigger sailing canoe experience is Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Adventures, run by a Hawaiian-grown husband and wife team who love the water. Sage Spalding took his first canoe ride when he was 10 years old and at 16 competed in his first sailing canoe race from Oahu to Kauai. Liz took up surfing as a teenager, before learning to sail. The two met at the California Maritime Academy. During the 2-hour sail with this duo, the two pass on to their guests their love of Hawaiian history, culture, and traditions. The Hawaiian outrigger canoes have a lot of “Kauna,”—hidden meaning—because it’s a symbol of how the Hawaiians came here. Sage explains, “The Hawaiian word for the hull of the canoe is ‘kino,’ which translates to body. It reminds us to be ‘pono,’ which means righteous, and to ‘malama,’ or take good care of our bodies so that when we are hundreds of miles out to sea we can depend on our bodies to get us back to shore.” By the time guests return to land—having seen breaching humpback whales and dolphins swimming by—they have a better understanding how the early seafarers must have experienced life in their 100-foot (30m) canoes.

Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Adventures earned the Hawaii Ecotourism Association’s Ecotour Operator of the Year 2009 award. Every trip they run is a bit different, because the destination depends upon which way the wind is blowing. The Hina, which is now made of fiberglass instead of the traditional wood, holds up to six passengers plus the Spaldings. The trips leave from the beach in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani. Join them for an extraordinary sailing adventure, and go where the wind takes you. —LF

Hawaii Sailing Canoe Adventures ( 808/281-9301; www.mauisailingcanoe.com).

When to Go: Year-round. Whale season is Nov–Apr.

Kahului, Maui.

$$$ Fairmont Kea Lani, 4100 Wailea Analui Dr. ( 866/540-4456 or 808/875-4100; www.fairmont.com/kealani). $ Dreams Come True on Maui, 3259 Akala Dr., Kihei ( 808/879-7099; www.dreamscometrueonmaui.com).

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