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Our Canoes

The outrigger canoe–in Hawaiian it is called a waʻa (vah-ah)– is a type of canoe featuring one or more lateral support floats known as outriggers which are fastened to one or both sides of the main hull.  Smaller canoes often employ a single outrigger on the port side, while larger canoes may employ a single-outrigger, double-outrigger, or double-hull configuration (see also catamaran). The sailing canoes are an important part of the Polynesian heritage and are raced and sailed in Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa and by the Māori of New Zealand.

Using an outrigger or double-hull configuration greatly increases the stability of the canoe, but introduces hydrodynamic inefficiency relative to making a single-hull canoe wider. Compared to other types of canoes, outrigger canoes can be quite fast, yet are also capable of being paddled and sailed in rougher water. This paddling technique, however, differs greatly from kayaking or rowing.

The Names of Our Canoes

(name, brand of canoe, and meaning in English):

Keoneloa (Bradley Lightening) 88E
Long sand–refers to the bay on which the Grand Hyatt is situated

Oliliko o Makahuena (Bradley Lightening) 88C
Refers to the sparkling or shimmering we often see on the water as we return at sunset from Makahuena

Nai’a Uli Uli (Mirage) 88D
Blue Dolphin

Noio o ka ieie (Bradley Striker)
To the best of our knowledge, Noio is a white bird formerly used for navigating to land, o ka ieie means of the high…relating to being in the sky.

Laulima (Mirage)
Literally means many hands. Means working together, cooperation.

Rai (Mirage) 88F
The Tahitian word for sky.


Kamakani O Maha’ulepu (Bradley Lightening) 88J
Refers to the wind found at Maha’ulepu.


Anatomy of an Outrigger Canoe

Hawaiian names for the parts of an outrigger canoe with English translations:

  • ama (float/outrigger)
  • hoe (a paddle; to paddle)
  • ‘iako (spars, boom)
  • manu kupe (curved end pieces covering the fore and aft parts of the hull; to steer a canoe)
  • mo’o (gunwale)
  • muku (ends of ‘iako that extend beyond the hull)
  • wae (spreaders)
  • wa’a (canoe, also va’a, waka)