Outrigger Heritage

Two men land their outrigger canoes at Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in the background of this historic picture from the late 1800’s.

Made from local wood, each outrigger weighed several hundred pounds and was the result of many hours of carving, shaping, and tying. It was not easy work, but it was rewarding and spiritual.

Outrigger canoes like these meant a source of food, income, and transportation to their owners. These blessings only came with skill and knowledge of both the sea and the boat though; without that knowledge they could instead lead to serious trouble or death.

This iconic spot still sees many outriggers today. Most are now made from plastics or composite materials and are lighter and faster and used primarily for recreation. There are still some, though, made in traditional ways and used for traditional purposes.

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About Hawaii Aviation

"In 2006, the Hawaii historic aviation project was turned over to Marilyn Kali, the HDOT's Director of Public Affairs for more than 20 years, and historian for Honolulu International Airport. For more than four years Mrs. Kali located and scanned thousands of photos from the archives of the HDOT, the Hawaii State Archives, Hickam Air Force Base, U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, U.S. Navy History Center, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and private collectors who made their photo collections available. Along the way, she also collected numerous stories, newspaper articles and magazine clippings about early aviation in Hawaii.