Riding the waves of Waikiki in an Outrigger Canoe - Expedia Australia Travel Blog

Riding the waves of Waikiki in an Outrigger Canoe

Riding the waves of Waikiki in an Outrigger Canoe

I’m a summer seeker. I’m constantly chasing the warm temperatures and, as such, Honolulu is well and truly on my list of perfect board short-wearing destinations. It’s a perfect mixture of picturesque beaches, interesting culture and cosmopolitan nightlife. Expedia’s Aussie travellers usually spend 3-4 nights in Waikiki and that’s plenty of time to explore a little bit of everything it has to offer.

The beaches of Waikiki are usually bustling with sunseekers looking to get their tan on, or cool off in the clear blue waters. But if you’re not into surfing, can’t afford to hire a luxurious catamaran, or want something a little more exciting than just a standard swim, I’ve found the perfect beachside activity for you and the family.

Since the very first Hawaiian inhabitants hit the beaches of Oahu, outrigger canoeing has been a true local pass time, and for many, quite the competitive sport. It was the activity of the elite – a sport that was reserved for royalty, and Waikiki beach is still one of the very few places in the world where you can experience this awesome celebration of the ocean. The best way to explain this water activity is to compare it to both surfing and traditional canoeing. The boat is essential a large six seater canoe. On its side extends a large outrigger, which stabilises the canoe. Now, while the canoe itself might not seem so different to your standard canoe, it’s the way in which the vessel can manoeuver through the surf which really sets it apart.

Paddling out on the water of Waikiki Beach is a tranquil and calming action – the sea breeze is welcoming against the warm Pacific sun, and the picturesque view is really worth soaking in. With a crew of friends and a captain from Waikiki Beach Services, our outrigger canoe is full and it’s an easy paddle out. Our captain explains the technique of paddling on the opposite side to the person in front, and he steers the boat from the back through the waves. Once out into the open water, it’s all a matter of timing. We wait for the right wave and when the cue comes, we paddle hard and fast.


In a frantic flurry of oars and a splashing of surf and sweat, we soar forward. In a similar manner to surfing, we end up riding the wave to the beach. The ocean pushes our canoe forward and the wave causes us to surge forward without the need to paddle. It’s an effortless glide through the clear blue waters that brings a smile to everyone’s face.

Outrigger canoeing is a great physical workout too – paddling out through the surf to enjoy the rewards of being able to cruise back in on the waves isn’t too strenuous, but a good way to work on your arm muscles. It’s also suitable for the whole family and a great group activity. The canoe can seat up to six people, depending on the actual boat, and it’s a great team bonding experience.

Outrigger canoeing is also good for non-swimmers, as you remain mostly dry through the experience and don’t need to get into the water.

The rush of being pushed through the surf during a traditional Hawaiian experience makes outrigger canoeing a really unique way of exploring Waikiki. It’s an activity that embraces the proud culture and beautiful surroundings of the region and a truly brilliant way of spending a quality afternoon with your travelling companions or family.

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Reuben Mourad

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