Spend several weeks on the Pacific Ocean, crewing a 50-foot boat hundreds of miles from land, and it can be tough to return to life on solid ground.
"When you're out of sight of land for 25 days, coming home and reintegrating with everything is sometimes hard," explained Nakoa Prejean, the owner of Oahu-based Hawaiian Ocean Adventures.
Aloha State visitors can get a taste of how ancient Polynesians migrated across the Pacific during a Hawaiian Ocean Adventures tour, operated on Oahu's east and west coasts aboard sailing canoes built by hand.
In 1995, Prejean was part of a crew that sailed from the Big Island of Hawaii to Tahiti onboard the Makali'i, a traditionally built, double-hulled Hawaiian canoe.
"There's no radio, no watches, nothing of that nature," he said. "Everything is done with traditional navigation using the stars, wind, moon, waves and the variety of birds that appear as you get closer to land."
Hawaiian Ocean Adventures excursions last a little over an hour and provide stunning views of Oahu's mountain ranges along with a great chance to see Hawaiian wildlife.
"Typically we see all sorts of Hawaiian green sea turtles," Prejean said. "On the west side, there are also some resident Hawaiian spinner dolphins we often see, and during whale season [December through April], we regularly spot humpback whales."
The tours also expose travelers to a rich component of Hawaiian culture that's not readily available statewide. Paddling an outrigger canoe can be done at several Waikiki Beach vendors or oceanfront resorts across the Islands. Hawaiian Ocean Adventures, however, is one of the few companies in the state offering travelers a chance to sail in a traditional Hawaiian canoe.
"Sailing canoes have been an important part of how I was raised and have been a lifestyle for myself and my family for generations," Prejean said.
For now clients need to make their own way out to the company's tour locations, either near Kualoa Ranch on Oahu's east coast or the lagoon in front Disney's Aulani resort on the west side. But Prejean said he hopes to begin offering a comprehensive, six-hour product in December that will make the sailing tours much more accessible.
"We'll bring people out to the east side in vans, put them on our double-hulled sailing canoe and take them out on the water, giving them a chance to do some snorkeling and then have some lunch with us before heading back to Waikiki," he said.
East-side sailing tours start at $114 for ages 13 and older and $93 for ages 6 to 12. West-side excursions are shorter and cost $99 for ages 11 and up and $79 for kids under 10. Visit www.hawaiianoceanadventures.com