Polynesian Cultural Sail

Waikiki Polynesian Canoe Sailing Cruise & Hands-On Cultural Experience Tour

by Mariam Beard • Last Updated: April 26, 2022

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Quick Details:

  • Island: OAHU
  • Location: Kewalo Basin Harbor
  • Duration: 2 hours

Our Experience

We had the opportunity to experience a unique Hawaiian cultural experience. We visited Kewalo Basin Harbor for a morning cultural sail. It was just 2-hours long and was WORTH waking up early for.

The Polynesian catamaran was built over in Tonga, deconstructed, and shipped back to Hawaii. It took an all-volunteer crew 100+ days to rebuild it to what it is today.

This experience is unique because of the history behind it and the focus on Hawaiian culture. We opted for the 8 a.m. morning sail, which ran from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. We tried some light appetizers for morning snacks, had coconut water, and were able to sail the Waikiki coastline.

The Boat

The boat is located at Kewalo Basin Harbor and parking is by permit only. When we arrived, we introduced ourselves to our captain (from Maui) and our hosts (both from Oahu). All three were Kamehameha graduates, which are of native Hawaiian descent and have a focus on Hawaiian culture throughout K-12 schooling.

The boat runs a few times daily, with an 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. sunset sail. The focus is to preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian culture by offering a unique educational platform to share native history, myths, and legends of the land while sailing the waters of Oahu.

Hands-down one of the most unique experiences. I’ve lived on Oahu for almost 17 years and there is ALWAYS something new to learn about Hawaii. This Polynesian cultural sail was the perfect way to experience that for visitors looking for a small, intimate learning experience.

Unique Experience

What makes this trip specifically unique is that it provides commercial tour options to visitors to help to perpetuate the educational component. They also offer free educational experiences for school-aged children to connect with their Hawaiian culture.

The trip was limited to only six passengers, so we were able to escape the crowds. We saw some old photos of old Waikiki before it was commercialized. We had our hand at hula and then afterwards we were able to just have a fun jam sesh with our hosts.

Overall, it was an excellent experience and a great way to focus on the educational component of Hawaiian culture and history.


We would highly recommend this experience to anyone looking for a unique Hawaiian cultural experience. I absolutely loved that it was small group tour limited to just 6-guests plus the crew. We were lucky and were the only 2-guests booked on the 8am so we had the boat to ourselves!!

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Aloha! I'm Mariam.

I'm an Oahu resident sharing my adventures here in Hawaii to help take the guesswork out of planning your trip to Hawaii.

I've worked full-time as a concierge for a decade and have planned thousands of itineraries for travelers like you!


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