Hawaiian Canoeing & Mindfulness

The Polynesian Canoe, also known as the Hawaiian Canoe, has been used for thousands of years throughout the Polynesian triangle. Ancient people used it to cross the pacific ocean from one island to another, and so they populated the entire pacific ocean. Today, Polynesian canoeing has become a world sport. The Polynesian Canoe captures the essence of the spirit of the ancestral peoples of the Pacific, being a physical exercise that needs synchronization between the entire team to flow as a single being, paddlers-canoe. In the practice of Polynesian Canoeing, it is necessary to connect with the canoe, nature and with mana (vital energy that flows from all things and is at the heart of all creation).

The purpose of this experience is to have an immersion in various aspects of Polynesian culture, integrating harmony, team spirit, respect for nature, balance to face obstacles and connection with the divine that is in the essence of nature and of the human being. The three days of this experience propose a canoeing activity a day, accompanied by moments to meditate and enjoy the beauty of the waters of the Arade River, with birds and natural landscapes, knowledge of Polynesian culture, paddling techniques accompanied by active meditation and mindfulness. Along with canoeing, on the first day, we will have an introduction to Polynesian culture, including the concepts of the “Aloha Spirit” and mana. On the second day, we will practice mindfulness exercises. And, on the third and last day, in addition to our practice, we will have a beautiful sunset for contemplation and strengthening of Mana.

PS: This activity can be practiced by all ages and physical conditioning.


Whether you are doing any activity, whether at work or leisure, or even simple everyday activities, you need focus and concentration, to be more present in that moment, to get the most out of your time and your experience and end with your activity success. But how can you develop this mental focus to reach a higher level of concentration and awareness?

Mindfulness is a very useful tool in the Polynesian canoe, which can improve your performance in many ways. Definitions of mindfulness certainly vary. Described broadly, it is the practice of becoming aware of or paying attention to what is happening in the present moment, without judgment, but rather with curiosity. Think about your last water training experience. I can bet you were able to put your thoughts of work, family or relationships behind you and just focus on paddling for at least some of the time, if not the entire practice. You were already practicing some mindfulness without even being aware of it.


Most mindfulness exercises start with a focus on breathing, or how to make breathing the foundation of practice. You can then gradually begin to observe other sensations incorporating all the senses. Remember, mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to an experience in the moment, without allowing your mind to wander into thoughts of the past or worries about the future, that is, without judging what is happening. Mindfulness is a gentle practice that requires observation of inner experience rather than excessive control over thoughts, physical sensations and feelings.

Mindfulness in Team

Ideally, all rowers should do the mindfulness exercises at the same time with someone guiding them. But nothing prevents you from developing this practice alone, you can slowly integrate it into an individual conditioning practice.

A sample of something we can develop in practice:

• rowing with a focus on breathing (watching your breathing, not controlling it)

• rowing focusing on body sensations (it can be anything: the sun on your face, the pain in your back, wherever your mind takes you)

• rowing focusing on the sound of the water

• paddling connecting with team members

• paddling with your eyes closed for short stretches to really develop that connection.

What's the advantage?

Practicing this type of focus is not only beneficial for your physical performance, it is also important for developing your mental toughness, which is a crucial part of not only playing the sport, but also managing any other times of stress. Imagine, in the last race of the day, just a few meters from the finish line, will you be able to muster the determination to overcome the physical pain? Or will you submit to discomfort and wait for the rest of the team to supply you?

When practicing mindfulness, it is important to note that the mind WILL wander; that's what minds do. However, when this happens, one technique is to gently ask the mind to come back to the breath and continue with the intended exercise. It is also beneficial to incorporate and practice mindfulness out of the water.

Similarities and benefits of mindfulness associated with Polynesian canoe

1) Ancient philosophical roots

Mindfulness is an ancient practice derived from Eastern contemplative philosophies, which today has become one of the most researched psychological techniques. The Polynesian canoe is part of the tradition of the ethnic groups that inhabit the islands of the Pacific, sharing collectivist values. Mindfulness associated with Polynesian canoeing allows you to focus on teamwork, strengthening ties and developing collectivist consciousness.

2) Mind-body connection.

Sport psychology exists because the psychosocial aspects of an athlete are as important as the biological-technical factors, that is, the mind is as important as the body and technique. Mindfulness, associated with Polynesian canoeing is a tool that facilitates the process and psychological preparation. Polynesian kayaking works on awareness of the body's thoughts, emotions and sensations, increasing the mind-body connection.

3) Increase the quality of life

Mindfulness associated with the frequent practice of Polynesian canoeing increases the quality of life, connecting the individual, nature, body and mind. Decades of research consistently demonstrate a relationship between mindfulness and valuing life. According to Harvard Medical School, the practice of mindfulness can increase the enjoyment of life and the ability to cope with illness, improving physical, mental and emotional health. Polynesian canoeing plays a similar role. Former patients, breast cancer survivors, reported in a scientific study that being part of a Polynesian canoeing team awakened in them feelings of friendship, companionship, community and partnership. In addition to the feeling of improvement in physical conditioning and health, and the increase in self-confidence, self-esteem and control of life itself. Such feelings are certainly not limited to breast cancer survivors.

4) Practice improves performance.

We've all heard the saying "practice makes perfect". This doesn't just apply to the Polynesian canoe. The same goes for mindfulness! The more you practice mindfulness, the better you become and the better your technique becomes. The more mindfulness is practiced, the better psychologically prepared the athlete becomes. Mindfulness has been shown to help athletic performance by increasing mental strength and has proven to be effective in helping athletes overcome physical and emotional obstacles. Polynesian canoeing unites these two benefits, improving physical preparation and improving an athlete's mental preparation.

5) Accessible to all.

Polynesian canoeing is one of the most inclusive sports that exists, and therefore one of the sports that has gained the most practitioners and is growing in the world. Polynesian canoeing schools are popping up on every continent, making it easier and more accessible for everyone. And, in addition to those with specific injuries or physical limitations, it is a sport that can be practiced by people of any age.

Like Polynesian canoeing, mindfulness is all around us and it's quite easy to get started. While ideally taught by someone certified, there are things we can do as individual rowers to start exploring and incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives and training. Polynesian kayaking, like mindfulness, is not something that can be immediately mastered. Be patient and enjoy the slow and steady progress as you understand the concepts.


Breakfast & Dinner package with one Hawaiian Conoeing session per day on Arade River.

One Yoga class per day

Multiple instructors, including antigravity Yoga and Vinyasa Flow.

Recommended Yoga Level: Beginner and Intermediate

Bookable for any number of nights and for any dates (minimum 4 nights)

Our Retreat will run even with only one participant.


Private Room


3 Courses Vegetarian Set Menu Dinner

1 Hawaiin Canoeing Session per day on Arade River (Including transfer)

1 Yoga class per day

1 relaxing massage per person per stay included.

The Hawaiin Canoeing Program is available starting any day for a minimum of 4 nights, please check availability & prices on our booking engine.