15th Annual Wa‘a Kiakahi Sailing Canoe Festival - Kaanapali Resort
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15th Annual Wa‘a Kiakahi Sailing Canoe Festival

The 15th annual Wa‘a Kiakahi brings aloha to Maui shores from June 7 to 9, welcoming seven six-member crews from all islands to share with the public the beauty, history and proficiency of traditional Hawaiian sailing canoes.

The three-day event is created by the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association (HSCA), and features traditional ceremonies, sailing canoe rides and educational talks about celestial navigation and water skills. New this year: prior to the event, the HSCA will rig the canoes at Kalama Park in Kihei and sail to Kāho‘olawe for a community day of tree-planting! The volunteer tree-planting takes place on Memorial Day Weekend, May 26, after which the canoes sail from Kāho‘olawe to Kā‘anapali on May 27. A traditional Hawaiian arrival ceremony will welcome the sailors.

HCSA conducts its races in the same mode as ancient Hawaiians: sailors do not make crew changes, and they travel every channel connecting the Hawaiian Islands.

Wa'a Kiakahi

Kā‘anapali Beach Resort Association is again the title sponsor of Wa‘a Kiakahi and welcomes everyone to come and interact with the canoes and sailors on Kā‘anapali Beach during the three-day event.


► Friday, June 7

8:30 a.m. Rigging of canoes at Kā‘anapali.

11:30 a.m. Shoreline race, Kā‘anapali.

3 p.m. Race completion at Whalers Village, Kā‘anapali Beach. Arrival of sailing canoes with a traditional Hawaiian welcome ceremony.

► Saturday, June 8

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Free sailing canoe rides for all ages (weather and sea conditions permitting), “talk story” opportunities with race team members, and demonstrations, all happening in front of Whalers Village.  

► Sunday, June 9

9 a.m. Sailing canoe send-off and traditional Hawaiian farewell ceremony. Canoes sail to Kaunakakai, Moloka‘i.

The participating teams for 2019 are:

  1. Auwahi Wind, O’ahu
  2. Hui Nalu Canoe Club, O‘ahu
  3. Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel, Maui
  4. Kā‘anapali Beach Resort Association, Maui
  5. Maui Jim, Kaua‘i
  6. Moloka‘i Canoe Club, Moloka‘i
  7. Olukai, Kaua‘i

The public will get a chance to meet the sailors and to take a free ride in a sailing canoe on Saturday. There is no age requirement to go out, and life jackets will be provided for non-swimmers.

“Wa‘a Kiakahi gets more special every year, and we are honored to be a part of it,” says Shelley Kekuna, executive director of Kā‘anapali Beach Resort Association. “Now in our 15th year, we can really look back and see how the public’s understanding and appreciation for sailing canoes has grown.”

Ocean Paddler TV often films the event, which is usually aired later in the summer.

Wa'a Kiakahi 2013

For more information, please visit https://hsca.info/


Our hearts are with our Maui and Lahaina ‘ohana as our island continues to rebuild. As West Maui opens following the devastating wildfires, our restaurants, shops, hotels, resorts, condos, and activity partners welcome you with aloha.

For the latest updates on Ka'anapali and West Maui locations, please view our resource page.
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