With dozens of kayakers paddling their canoes on the Big Island, you can almost hear the strains of the Hawaii 5-0 song in the air. That was the theme for this past weekend’s 34th Annual Queen Liliuokalani Outrigger Canoe Race –– the world’s largest long distance canoe contest. This year, about 2,500 racers from Hawaii, the US mainland and around the world came to compete during Saturday’s single-hull races and Sunday’s double-hull and one-person canoe races.
Held annually since 1972 at the Kai’Opua Canoe Club to honor the last reigning Hawai’i monarch on her birthday, September 2, some paddlers still use local Koa logs, though most now use sleek fiberglass gliders.
The race was started to fulfill a way to train for the grueling Na Wahine O Ke Kai (Women) and the Molokai Hoe (Men) — long distance canoe races from the island of Molokai to Oahu.
The race has grown over the years. Now there are two days of racing, luaus, dances, a torchlight parade, and more. Info: Queen Liliuokalani Outrigger Canoe Race.