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Catch the Wave: Hawaii’s Most Exciting Paddling Destinations

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Surfing may be the first water sport that Hawaii calls to mind, but the islands also have a rich tradition of paddling. From outrigger canoeing (the official state team sport) to stand-up paddling (also known as SUP) to kayaking, Hawaiian beaches launch thousands of craft daily, and with them comes the chance to experience some of Hawaii’s most spectacular scenery. Read on for five favorite paddling destinations. Whether in Maui or Molokai, each comes with adrenaline-pumping thrills.
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Pailolo Channel, United States
Separating the islands of Maui and Molokai—at little more than eight miles at its narrowest point—the Pailolo Channel is one of the windiest in the Hawaiian Islands. This means swimming and water sports in and around the channel are only for the...
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Maui, Hawaii, USA
Maui’s North Shore lures surfers for its big open ocean swells—and has a notable draw for paddlers too. Along the Maliko Downwind Run, consistent winds allow paddlers to zip atop the ocean’s surface with 20-25 knot winds at their backs. Considered...
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Kapaa, HI 96746, USA
Swift streams and waterfalls continue to carve these vertiginous and rugged valleys as they pour down into the sea. One of the most stunning wilderness areas on earth, it also contains ancient Hawaiian ruins of graves, temples, house platforms,...
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O‘ahu, Hawaii, USA
The nine-mile Hawaii Kai downwind run on Oahu’s South Shore is one of the main training grounds for downwind SUP enthusiasts—and a challenging one even for experts. This area has a long history of SUP and outrigger paddling, and provides a...
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In the middle of Kauai’s eastern coast, the 20-mile Wailua River features lush jungle landscapes, natural lava grottoes, and cascading waterfalls, such as ‘Opaeka’a Falls and Wailua Falls. Once an important seat of chiefly power, the Wailua River...