In a few short weeks, more than 500 paddlers from all over the world—including most of the world’s fastest SUP racers—will converge in Kahului, Maui for the 9th annual OluKai Ho’olaule’a. The OluKai festival, which takes place on Maui’s world-famous Maliko downwind run April 29 and 30, is as prestigious as it is beneficial for the community and environment. It hosts an elite race for both standup paddleboarders and outrigger canoeists along with a fun paddle, family-friendly cultural activities including Hawaiian canoe sailing and a Lu'au, and what’s best? It’s open to the public! Anyone on the island is invited to join the fun at Kanaha Beach Park, watch the stars of the sport battle and then hang out for the Lu’au post-race!

In addition to the races, festival attendees will also take away an experience that enables them to help restore 'aina momona (abundant land) in Hawaii through the core principles of sustainability and cultural preservation. For the event, OluKai's Ama OluKai foundation is partnering with the Hui Aloha 'Aina Momona nonprofit for a Poi-making workshop. Participants will become active stewards by learning how to pound taro into poi to discover more about Hawaii's cultural traditions and understand why it’s critically important to protect them. The workshops are first-come, first-serve and take place both Saturday and Sunday.

A stacked pack of elite male racers flee the Gulch. In this shot, you can spot five-time champ Connor Baxter (front-left), runner-up Mo Freitas (front-right) and third-place finisher Matt Nottage (front-middle) establishing hierarchy around the first buoy. Photo: Erik Aeder

Racers from all corners of the globe, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil and Sweden will be vying for the top prize of the $15,000 equal gender prize purse, and bragging rights, of course.

"The beauty of Maui's coast will be highlighted by the elite paddlers coming together to celebrate the spirit of Aloha," commented OluKai Konohiki (caretaker) and legendary big wave surfer, Archie Kalepa. "The premiere paddling festival features one of the most fun runs in the world, and will bring the community together to protect and preserve Hawaiian traditions."

Top performances are expected again this year from five-time OluKai Ho'olaule'a winner and native Hawaiian, Connor Baxter. Sonni Hönscheid will defend her title in the women's category.  OluKai Ho'olaule'a will be filmed in HD and broadcast internationally courtesy of OluKai media partner, Ocean Paddler TV.

Register now for the OluKai Ho’olaule’a, and check back with for in-depth coverage of the festival!

Event Calendar


9 am—'Ohana Fun Paddle Start

10 am-3 pm—Music, Ama OluKai Foundation Giveback Activities, Hawaiian Games, Canoe Rides

12 pm—Maliko Downwind Eight-mile race to Kanaha Beach Park

1:30 pm—Lu'au and Live Music

3 pm—SUP Awards Ceremony


11 am-2 pm—Music, Ama OluKai Foundation Giveback Activities, Hawaiian Games, Canoe Rides

12 pm—OC1/OC2 Race

1:30 pm—Lu'au and Entertainment

2:30 pm—OC1/OC2 Awards Ceremony

Check out our gallery and recap from the beach at last year’s OluKai Ho’olaule’a.