Surf, Sun and Hawaiian Sailing Canoes at Maui’s Kā‘anapali Beach

I typically don’t have to work very hard to convince folks that Maui is a good vacation spot. But during the summer, Kā‘anapali Beach really stands out for folks who like to be on the water.

Every year, the first or second weekend of June, a half-dozen or so Hawaiian sailing canoes pull right up onto the beach for the Wa’a Kiakahi festival. Hawaiian sailing canoes have become pretty rare. Even many Hawaiians don’t know much, if anything, about them. The idea of the festival is pass along the history and tradition, but crews also show how much fun sailing canoes can be, offering free rides for anyone willing to jump on board. When the sailing canoes aren’t on the water, they’re parked on the beach, so it’s easy to get a good look.

The paddling that most folks are familiar with is outrigger canoe paddling. It’s the official team sport in Hawaii.

Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel has a six-person canoe that visitors can go out on and learn how to paddle. It looks a bit intimidating at first, but I was pretty amazed at how quickly our group got the hang of it. But it’s not just about mechanics, the watermen leading the activity have years of experience to pull from and they take the time to explain the tradition behind the sport. And the view from the water, looking at the West Maui mountains, it good inspiration to learn some new

Summer is also when parasailing returns to Kā‘anapali Beach. When the humpback whales head out of town, the fast-moving parasailing boats are allowed back in the water. So in other words, when it’s not whale season, it’s parasailing season. (May 16 through December 14.) If you’ve never tried it before, you don’t need any skill or talent. The captain and crew with UFO Parasail will walk you through the ropes and fit you securely into the harness.

Once airborne, along with being wowed by how pretty it is from above, folks are often surprised by how quiet is. You can stay completely dry during a flight, but it’s fun to give the captain the okay to drop you in the water for a little splashing before touch back down on the boat. Parasailors must be 5 years old. You have to be 160 pounds to fly alone. Along with Tandem flights, they can do triple flights as well.

Maui has more miles of swimmable beaches than any other Hawaiian island, and Kā‘anapali is one of the more popular stretches. Some of that popularity may be credited to an area that’s commonly called Black Rock. Located at the northernmost end of Kā‘anapali, below the Sheraton, you won’t have the place to yourself, especially during summer, because you can snorkel right from the beach, but along with colorful fish, odds are in your favor you’ll find sea turtles.

If you’re up for a bit more of a snorkeling adventure, Teralani’s boat loads up on Kā‘anapali Beach for the trip to Honolua Bay. Keep your eyes open, bottlenose and spinner dolphins might turn up to escort you to your snorkeling spot. And remember, only reef safe sunscreen and no aerosols. In July of 2018, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban the sale of sunscreens damaging to marine life.

For more about Dana’s adventures and writing, follow her on Instagram @danarebmann and Twitter @drebmann.

Dana’s trip was hosted by Kā‘anapali Beach, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.


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