I have to admit, I have some trepidations being in the water, feet dangling over a surfboard with ocean sea life swimming about below me. The rest of my family, husband and 3 children aged 12, 10, and 5 have all experienced surfing, both times in the warm waters of Hawaii. I have anxiety about it, though we did have a family experience in Oahu that got me about as close as I might get to surfing. Waikiki Beach Services has an Outrigger Canoe ride that will take you literally amongst the surfers and paddle boarders for an unbelieveable ride of your life!
The sport of canoe surfing is unique to Hawaiʻi, more specifically to Waikīkī. In old Hawaiʻi, Waikīkī was the playground of the elite and canoe surfing was a privilege reserved solely for the aliʻi, or Hawaiian royalty. To this day, Waikīkī Beach is one of the only places in the world where you can race down a wave on an outrigger canoe.
Just beachside of The Royal Hawaiian Resort, the Waikiki Beach Services kiosk will check you in and get you ready for your ride. Exclusive to your group of up to 6 riders, if there’s a canoe open and available, you can go for your ride. Assigned to your spot in the canoe, pushing out to the water is easy with your two assistants that help paddle the boat. Literally each family member paddles and for my kids, it wasn’t easy so we relied on the paid help! You get out to the area where you are among surfers and paddle boarders all waiting for that great wave.
Once out there, the assistants shout to paddle fast and hard to get some speed going so that the canoe can sail with the wave. Once you stop paddling you surf right along with those with longboards and to top it off, you just get a spray of cool mist on you, no crashing head over foot, ever. The canoes are so safe, my youngest (age 5) could have opted to not even wear her life vest because she doesn’t swim yet! It’s truly exhilarating and you get the opportunity to catch 3 great waves. Paddling is an acquired activity and you will feel off in pattern, especially with kids. I must say it’s a good work out and you can get a little sore later, but it’s worth it!
You shouldn’t bring valuables on the canoe like fancy sunglasses or cameras/phones, Rx glasses should have a strap or wear your contacts! Luckily there are professional photographers documenting your experience and the CD of all the photos is included in the price of your trip. Seriously, we waited only 15 minutes following our quick 30-45 minute experience to get the photos uploaded and they are spectacular! (click on the ones above to see them larger!)
This is an amazing family activity that I highly recommend, you will catch 3 waves and the assistant paddlers know to wait and get those that will leave you with an amazing memory. Watch those waves curl while you’re surfing them, the views of the beach line and those around you are phenomenal. Best yet, you can do it for 6 people at $150 with the photo package, not per person like many activities can be on the islands!
Our adventure was hosted, experience is ours and 100% honest.