Skip to main content
Grand Wailea Maui
Outrigger Tour Maui

Explore the Storied Waters of Wailea in an Outrigger Canoe

Grand Wailea celebrates one of the most revered Hawaiian traditions with our outrigger canoe program
Grand Wailea
April 20th, 2022

At Grand Wailea, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to enjoy the wonders of Maui each and every day, right out our front door. More than that, we are fortunate to be part of Hawaiʻi’s thriving, rich culture, whose roots go back generations, and whose traditions perfectly reflect the natural beauty and intrigue of daily life on these mesmerizing Pacific islands.

One of the most revered and celebrated Hawaiian traditions is that of the waʻa (outrigger canoe). In fact, outrigger canoe paddling was actually adopted as the state’s official state team sport in 1986 and is an interscholastic high school sport—a sure sign of its significance even today.

The roots of the outrigger canoe in Hawaiʻi go much farther back—almost 2,000 years—to a time when ancient Polynesian explorers were navigating these very waters, guided by the stars and the migratory patterns of birds. When some of these explorers landed on Hawaiʻi and settled here, the outrigger canoe came with them and quickly became a central part of their daily existence, carrying food, people, and goods across waterways and between islands, and even serving as small battleships during tribal feuds.

We want our guests to share in on this truly iconic Hawaiian experience, which is why we have partnered with Maui Pacific Tours, a local company that creates bespoke, one-of-a-kind island adventures. We have tapped into their expertise in providing water activities and private tours to create our outrigger program, which comprises three types of adventures: a 1-hour turtle watching tour, a 2-hour snorkel tour (which includes all snorkeling equipment), and a 2-hour seasonal whale watching tour.

Guests who go on these tours have the authentic experience of paddling a real Hawaiian outrigger canoe through the storied waters of Wailea—Hawaiian for the “waters of Lea,” who happens to be the goddess of canoe builders! And the best part is that there’s no prior experience necessary—guests can simply grab a paddle, follow the instructions of the steersman or steerswoman, and start paddling. The tours give each paddler a literal front-row seat to the amazing beauty of Maui’s ocean environment in almost total silence while enjoying the thrill of propelling the canoe forward in perfect synchronicity.

“It’s amazing to work with the Grand Wailea to offer guests this unique hands-on experience,” says Austin O’Campo, Maui Pacific Tours’ Operations Manager. “You’re on the shore one minute and then you blink, and you’re on the water in a 6-person outrigger canoe looking down into the water at sea turtles, or even seeing a humpback whale slap its tail just a few feet away. It’s surreal!”

From their booth on property, just steps from Wailea Beach, Maui Pacific Tours operates daily tours, although seats are limited each day, so we recommend early bookings. In addition, the whale-watching tours take place only from December to April, which is when humpback whales congregate in Maui’s warm, calm, clear waters to breed, calve, and nurse their young during their long annual migration from the waters of Alaska.

Jacob Abeytia, the Lead Steersman at Maui Pacific Tours’ Grand Wailea location, is a seasoned pro who lives and breathes canoeing, as well as the spirit of aloha. “The canoe connects us to our culture the ocean and our community. It’s a way of life,” he says.

He loves his job not only for the adventures it brings, but also for the people he meets along the way. “One time, we had eight humpback whales frolicking under and around our canoe for about 10 minutes,” he recalls. “We actually got covered by the mist of a whale spout!

“That’s the beauty of this job—the fact that it’s brand new every day. And that it gives me the chance to meet amazing people from across the world and to make incredible memories for people via the canoe.”

To learn more or book an outrigger tour, please click here.

Related Stories

Immersive Culinary Experiences Await at the Reimagined Humuhumunukunukuāpua‘a

Grand Wailea’s signature restaurant unveils a vibrant new atmosphere and an innovative menu

Maui Meets the Amalfi Coast at Olivine, Grand Wailea’s New Dining Gem

The launch of Olivine marks another step in our property-wide refresh

Grand Wailea and Erewhon Create a Partnership Rooted in a Sense of Wonder

Bringing the best of LA to Maui

2023: Starting Slow, Picking up Speed

2023 is a year to allow the visionary within to come out.

“The White Doves” Multimedia Installation Brings the Aloha Spirit to Life

ʻIkena, Grand Wailea’s signature breakfast and brunch venue, provides a gorgeous setting at any time of the day, with its soaring ceilings and indoor-outdoor setting accentuating all the natural beauty that surrounds. No wonder, then, that it was chosen by Michael Pendry, a world-renowned German multimedia artist, as the site for his large-scale “The White Doves” installation.

Planning a Destination Wedding at Grand Wailea: Tips and Insight from Our Resident Expert

Senior Social Catering Manager Carol Suckow shares her destination wedding advice—and her golden rule

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Stephanie Jacobs, Director of Winemaking at Cakebread Cellars

This talented winemaker will headline the first dinner event of Grand Wailea’s charitable Wine and Dine series, themed Women in Wine

The Art of Sustainable Gardening

Jim Heid, Grand Wailea's Head Landscaper, has created a mix of indigenous and nonindigenous plants throughout the resort which showcases the beauty of Maui’s flora while also embodying our commitment to sustainability

An Open-Air Museum in Paradise

At Grand Wailea, we have assembled a formidable art collection to spur the imagination and shed light on our historical and cultural roots.