Today, the Spotyteam presents a new nautical activity: the Polynesian pirogue, also called va'a, which was a daily transport in the 19th century. This boat was up to 4 metres long and was widely used by the Polynesians.

The Polynesian pirogue, or the island canoe

In Samoan, Hawaiian and Tahitian, the word va'a means boat/canoe. 

These watercraft are traditional swing canoes that paddle forward. They are mainly used for fishing, excursions and small trips through lagoons, bays and archipelagos.

1) Straight from Polynesia, discover these Polynesian boats

The pirogue was created by the Polynesian people, known at the time for their know-how and exceptional knowledge in terms of navigation. The canoe is waterproof and quickly becomes the means of daily travel for the people of the island. 

As with canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle or sea kayaking, people on board advance using paddles. 

Polynesia is a grouping of several islands located in the South Pacific Ocean. Its turquoise waters are perfect and appreciated for sailing and paddling. The Polynesian waters are perfect for water sports or for a simple excursion in the South Pacific.

Monohulls, double canoes, multihulls… the first boats used by the islanders were multiple.

If you want to go for walks, swim, and practice a sport of sliding, the balance pirogue is one of the ideal water activities. 

Paradise beach in Polynesia

2) The Polynesian pirogue

The va'a is a boat whose stability is ensured by a single balance called ama. This balance is connected to the hull thanks to two wooden arms called iato. To move forward, it is not thanks to the strength of the wind but thanks to that of the rower, whose paddle blade is tilted forward.

In the Polynesian tradition, these pirogues were built from trunk and coconut fiber and stored on the beach. Today contemporary materials are used.

To enjoy water walks and discover the waters of Tahiti, Bora Bora and the turquoise bodies of water, this is the perfect way. 

The corals, fauna and flora of the tropical islands are sublime. Then come and sail in calm or white water in complete safety thanks to day or half-day cruises supervised by instructors.

3) Sport and pirogue racing 

Besides a pirogue trip to admire the sunset from the most beautiful French islands, you can also rent these boats for a sports outing. 

The Polynesian pirogue has become a water racing sport, also called outrigger canoe. There are 4 types of canoes: V1, V3, V6 and V12 or double canoe.

Many competitions are organized today, mainly in French Polynesia. There are 2 types of events

  • the speed in the lagoon 
  • the marathon on the high seas 

The races are then done on distances of 500 meters to 1,5km whereas for the marathons, they are distances of 30 to 1,500 km. 

The federal framework recognizes the practice of :

  • opeed over 500 m, 1 000 m, and 1 500 m,
  • ocean racing (a 21 km sea race),
  • GACI (Group Access to International Competitions) races over 35 km.

Pirogue on a beach

This little article made you want to try the rowing sports? 

The spots will soon be available on Spotyride, in Metropolitan France and in the DOM. 

Stay Connected --> Download the mobile app Spotyride 

Little advice from the Spotyteam, for your next navigation in the middle of nature, whether single-seater, canoeing, snorkeling, surfing or canyoning, don’t forget your sunscreen! 

For those who have planned a trip to French Polynesia, Tahiti, New Zealand or the Pacific Islands, this is the activity to do. You can browse the water bodies and drink a glass of coconut milk, while sitting under a coconut tree on a white sandy beach.

To discover the Pacific Islands and the Overseas Territories on the water, sail aboard these canoes and practice a new nautical sport.