Outrigger Canoes Waiting for Paddlers in Maui
To get to the Hawaiian Islands these days most folks take what seems like a long airplane flight, but if you really want to respect the journey you should go on an outrigger canoe ride. After just a few minutes of paddling, you will gain immense respect for the first people to make the journey over 2,000 miles to Hawaii’s shores across great expanses of the Pacific Ocean. This strong tie to these ancient mariners is still alive in Hawaii today where canoe paddling and racing are still a significant part of the culture with canoe clubs and race teams all over the state.
After several trips to Hawaii, I finally got to participate in the ancient rite of an outrigger canoe ride after convincing my oldest daughter to join me. We went out with Maui Paddle Sports (www.mauipaddlesports.com), who not only gave us a great lesson in the proper techniques of paddling, but also made it a cultural experience as they shared their personal history and that of the islands.
Highlights of our specific trip were not only the friendly races among the several canoes out that day, but also the chance to paddle along side sea turtles. The ultimate turn around point for us was Ka’anapali Beach’s Black Rock. Ancient Hawaiians believed that Black Rock, which they called Pu’u Keka’a was the jumping off point for their souls leaving this world. A popular snorkel spot, it is also known for folks “leaving their spirits” via a 20-25 feet leap off of the rocks into the water below.
Jumping out of the canoe while our guide kept them steady, we swam over and made the climb to the leaping point. Since Black Rock is lava it is pretty jagged, so it is good to have some form of water shoes or sandals to make the ascent. When my 16 year-old daughter reached the top, she hesitated and looked for a way to come back down (leaping really is the only practical way to descend), but she made the leap as our fellow paddlers cheered her on. Dad followed his daughter over the side trying to avoid the same scream she yelled on the way down.
The paddle back to our beach head served as a metaphorical return from the thrill of the Black Rock leap as this adventure with Maui Paddle Sports become one of the highlights of our trip. If you want your Hawaiian vacation to go beyond just a trip to the beach, sign up to ride with the able guides from Maui Paddle Sports.