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January 12, 2017

Visit Maui: Outrigger Canoe Tour with Maui Paddle Sports



Over the weekend our family had a fantastic experience out on the ocean in an outrigger canoe with Maui Paddle Sports.

Although my kids and husband have had brief experiences on an outrigger canoe, paddling in one never appealed to me, simply because I have a fear of the ocean.  More specifically, I have a fear of the creatures that live in the ocean.

However, I wasn't about to let my fear prevent me from trying out this new activity with my family, so despite my apprehension, I was excited for this new adventure!

Maui Paddle Sports offers tours twice a day at 8am or 9:30am. The day before our tour, I received a text with instructions (check-in 30 minutes prior, wear sunscreen, etc.), as well as a link to sign an electronic waiver.

The morning of our tour, we checked in and were greeted by numerous Maui Paddle Sports team members, all of whom were so enthusiastic and friendly.

We were all given a Maui Paddle Sports water bottle that we filled up with ice cold water in case we got thirsty on our tour.
The kids were outfitted with life vests (adults are welcome to use them too), and one of the team members showed us how to use a dry bag to hold our phones.

We stored our slippers under the check-in tent (no footwear is allowed on the canoe as per tradition), and then we began a quick paddling lesson.  Our guides, Del Rey and Michael, ensured everyone, including the kids, held the paddle the correct way, and understood how to paddle.

Michael assisting the boys with the paddle.
We then made our way to Kamalalawalu, our outrigger canoe, and were given safety instructions.  We needed to make sure that we (primarily the adults), did not lean to the right, which could result in the ama (float) flipping over, sending us all into the ocean.




The boys got settled into the canoe, while Del Rey and Michael watched the waves, looking for the right moment to push the canoe off into the ocean.  When we got the go-ahead, the adults grabbed hold of the canoe, pushing it into the water, and once our feet got wet, we were told to get in (there's a specific way to get into and out of the canoe).

And off we went - paddling into the Pacific blue!


It took a while for us to get into a rhythm, but it didn't take long for us to get far.  It also didn't take very long before the kids decided to just cruise in the canoe and let the adults do all the paddling.

After paddling out for about 10 minutes, we paused to check out our surroundings, while talking story with Michael and Del Rey.

Throughout the tour occasional stops are made to not only take photos, but also for the guides to tell legends of ancient Hawaii, explain how voyaging was critical to the Polynesians, and emphasize how paddling continues to be such an integral part of Hawaii today.

We paddled out past Black Rock, where somehow my husband found the courage to jump off the storied cliff.


Del Rey and my husband at the top of the cliff
At some areas the water was clear enough to see fish!

Looking for fish

During our tour we saw a turtle, and our guide saw a whale in the distance (whale watching season is very popular for the canoe tours).  It's not uncommon to see dolphins as well.

Although Maui Paddle Sports does not offer a snorkel tour, water time is optional, and guests are welcome to bring a mask or goggles.

During our canoe tour we also paddled past catamarans, and seeing the shoreline and all of the huge resorts, including The Westin Ka`anapali Ocean Resort Villas (from where the canoes depart), was quite a sight!




Thankfully, the currents were not too rough, and although it was slightly overcast, for the most part the weather was perfect for our tour.  I was worried about getting motion sickness, but I did not get sick at all.  I was proud of myself for facing my fear of the ocean (and the creatures that call the ocean home).

I really took the time to appreciate the views, and it was a pretty neat feeling to be out with my family in the middle of the sea in an outrigger canoe!




Multiple tours go out for each time slot, and it's not hard to feel a little competitive when you get close to another canoe.  We watched three other canoes race to the shore.

Who will win?
Our tour guides, Michael and Del Rey, were fantastic. Paddling is their passion. as they each have been racing competitively for years.  Their knowledge of the sport and history of outrigger canoes really made the tour that much more enjoyable.

To my surprise, both Michael and Del Rey were both born and raised outside of Hawaii.  I was impressed with how they both have immersed themselves in the cultures and traditions of Hawaii.

Whether you want to learn more about Hawaii, are an ocean lover, want to team-build, or simply want to experience a family-friendly activity that is popular in the islands, check out Maui Paddle Sports!


Maui Paddle Sports
The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas
6 Kai Ala Dr
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 283-9344


Our tour was hosted.  Gratuities were paid on our own.

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