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Published July 31st 2018
A memorable and unique Hawaiian experience
For an exciting, unusual and authentic Hawaiian holiday experience, nothing beats a ride in an outrigger canoe at Waikiki Beach. For those who don't surf but want to go beyond the beach, often crowded with holiday-makers and selfie-takers and get amongst the glorious waves breaking out the back, an outrigger canoe ride is the perfect option.
The outrigger canoe is essentially a large canoe with a support float attached to one or both sides, called an outrigger, which is used for stability. The canoes are known for being fast and stable and for having great manoeuvrability in the surf. They are an important part of Hawaiian culture and have been used by Hawaiians traditionally for hundreds of years for transportation, fishing, in battles and for sport.
Along Waikiki Beach, there are a number of places offering outrigger rides. We went with Waikiki Beach Services located at the Royal Hawaiian. After turning up one morning, we only had to wait around 20 minutes for our ride. No experience is required as the crew will advise the proper techniques, such as paddling on the opposite side to the person in front of you, and will intermittently give instructions such as "paddle" and "change sides". The crew do all of the steering, so you only have to concentrate on paddling.
Your ride will commence at the beach where you are given a designated seat in the canoe. The paddle out is fairly short but energetic, past the swimmers, SUP boarders and surfers. Once out the back, you will have time to take in the beautiful scenery - the sparkling water of Waikiki, the famous beach lined with high rise hotels and the majestic Diamond Head. The crew will take care of the technical stuff, such as steering the canoe and importantly which waves to leave and which waves to catch.
Once the call has been made you are directed to paddle, fast and hard, in order to catch the wave. If you make it on you are advised to stop paddling and you can relax and enjoy this amazing experience.
For me, the ride was truly magnificent. On the wave the canoe glides effortlessly and is so smooth, it really does feel like you are flying. The sensation will no doubt leave you smiling from ear to ear and I immediately wanted to turn around and go again for our second wave. If your wave takes you all the way to the beach you will have a minute or so to savour the experience or quickly snap a couple of photos if so inclined.
The outrigger canoe ride was one of the best experiences we had in Hawaii, one that our family will never forget.
Waikiki Beach Services is located at The Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach. The ride costs around US $25 per person for a ride on two waves. This experience requires a minimum of four people and a maximum of six people per canoe. Depending on the surf conditions the ride can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes.