Our magical outrigger adventure

It was a sleepy Sunday morning, Lahaina town was still quiet, the water was glassy and there I was with my two kids ready to take on an adventure…paddling an outrigger off the Maui coast.

When we arrived at the shore we were greeted with a line of beautiful outriggers, all sitting facing the ocean, a sign of respect, I was told. It was a perfect Sunday morning.

And then it got even better.

We met up with our guides, Vae and Michael who gave us a quick tutorial on paddling. We learned how to hold the paddle, the commands of paddling:  “hut” to switch the side you are paddling on and “lava” to stop. Then we went for it.

We strapped my four year old into a life jacket, plopped both kids into the canoe and then waited for a set to pass. Once the waves were calm, Vae, Michael and I pushed the canoe into the ocean. I then took my seat in the four-man canoe, the men soon followed and away we were…on what was to be one of the most magical experiences I have ever had. The only time I ever had this much fun was when we took the trip to go whale watching long beach.

“Swish, swish, swish”

The paddles hit and cut through the water and sent us gliding over the placid waters. Below us was a kaleidoscope of blues and green color that only nature could create. We stopped at a group of rocks that clung to the shore to see some turtles grazing on some algae. We decided to let them eat in peace and off we went again.

Vae called “lava” and we came to a  halt. Michael jumped into the water, swam down the canoe and reached inside to a container of fresh-cut pineapple. He swam from one of us to the other offering his treat and some water, like a merman waiter.

While I was enjoying my Maui Gold pineapple, my son decided he was ready to jump into the water with Michael. In he went and with a couple of strokes he was to the ama (the outrigger). Micheal and Vae said he could ride the ama as we paddled. My son did not hesitate and soon was belly down, gliding over the water with each stroke of our paddles. His eyes were beaming, his smile permanent. My son was in heaven. (see the video below)

Soon even my 4 year old wanted to swim. Michael helped her in the water and made sure she was safe. It was amazing the care that our guides took of us. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much at seeing my kids fall in love with being out in the sea and on the outrigger.

On our way back to the shore we spotted our turtle friends swimming off their breakfast. One by one their heads popped up and then they dove down under our canoe. My son, still hanging out on the ama, watched them go under his feet and giggled at the thought that they may come to say hello up close and personal.

There we were floating in a canoe, just as the ancient Hawaiians had. No motor but our own human power, so close to the water that my daughter could brush her fingertips along the surface as we glided. This was the true Hawaii, one that everyone should experience.

Get your outrigger on

If you’d like to experience this on your next trip to Maui (and I say YOU MUST!), head out with the folks at MauiPaddleSports.com. The guides, Vae and Micheal were exceptional in caring for us. They taught us tidbits about Hawaii that I had never known before and they changed my son’s life…he now wants to be signed up for paddling next Spring.

If you are looking for that one activity while here to really feel connected to Hawaii, and gain a new outlook on this gorgeous Valley Isle, do the outrigger tour. It’s hands down my number one recommendation for visitors and locals, alike!

MauiPaddleSpors.com also offers whale watching from an outrigger…we’ll be doing this in January and I’ll be sure to share!

Looking for other cool Maui Activities? Check out my friends at www.hawaiitravelfun.com they will take exceptional care of you. Tell them The Ohana Mama sent ya!



  1. Beautiful pics. One of my favorite things about Maui is how clear the water is. We’ve been meaning to take my dad out at Wailea Beach, I’ve never been paddling either.

    • Funny, I had sunglasses that weren’t polarized and I thought the water was beautiful, then I got some polarized glasses and it was like, “BAM!” ah-mazing! The color of our water is my favorite color, actually!

  2. What a great adventure for you and your kids! Sounds like every day living in Hawaii is a new adventure. :) Found your blog through nancydbrown.com and was not disappointed; I love the story of how you came to live in Hawaii. Looking forward to more!

    • Aloha Rose! So happy you found me through Nancy!

      Yes, Maui i s wonderful and takes my breathe away daily. So thankful to call it home.

  3. Looks SO fun! Another thing to add to my to-do list! :) I’m going to look them up right now!

  4. Sara, I’m smiling just thinking about your great journey with two small kids on an outrigger and seeing them fall in love with the sea. How calm it must have been. Beautiful day with turtles in our natural beauty on Maui.

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