Modern Ways to Experience Traditional Hawaiian Sports

Traditions honoring the sports culture and history of Native Hawaiians continue to be practiced today and play an important role in preserving customs passed down from generation to generation. Opportunities for travelers to take part in Hawaiian cultural sports are found throughout the Islands, offering engagement in activities  truly unique to Hawaiʻi. Below are a few Hawaiian cultural sports activities to consider on your next Hawaiʻi vacation.
Outrigger Canoe Paddling 
Built for stability and speed, the Hawaiian outrigger canoe was adapted to withstand the challenges and difficulties of sailing and fishing on the Pacific Ocean. Still widely practiced today, outrigger canoe paddling has become a popular competitive sport that also celebrates an ancient tradition. Visitors can take part in the fun, too, as outrigger canoe paddling is offered recreationally statewide at many hotels, resorts and activity companies at Hawaiʻi’s most popular beaches.
Hawaiʻi is the birthplace of surfing. What began as a sport of Hawaiian chiefs and nobles is now a wildly popular recreational and competitive sport here in Hawaiʻi and around the world. Legendary Hawaiian waterman Duke Kahanamoku grew up surfing the waves of Waikīkī on Oʻahu. He was instrumental in sharing the values and sport of surfing to the world and came to be known and respected globally as “the father of modern surfing.” If you want to watch the professionals, head over to the North Shore of Oʻahu which is proclaimed to be the surf capital of the world and home to big wave surf competitions. Today, surf rental businesses, schools and instructors are available statewide to perpetuate Hawaiʻi's surf legacy by teaching visitors how to surf and canoe. 
Hōlua Sledding 
Just as Hawaiians developed a sport to surf the sea, they also created one to surf the land – this one utilizing a thin, wooden land sled. The skill of surfing grassy mountain slopes and hardened lava flows, hōlua sledding is a tradition that has been passed down through generations in honor the Hawaiʻi volcano goddess Pele. Although the sport is often left to experienced participants, it remains vital to Hawaiian culture and tradition. Should you have the opportunity to witness skilled hōlua sledding practitioners on your Hawaiʻi visit, don’t miss it.
‘Ulu Maika 
Hawaiians practiced this traditional sport to develop accuracy and strength, tossing heavy stones between two posts placed in the ground about a foot apart. Historically, the bowling-reminiscent sport was used to train and prepare Hawaiian warriors for battle. Today, it is played recreationally where supplies and space allow for it. You may even be able to participate in a game of ʻulu maika at some lūʻau and cultural sites.

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