There’s more to Hawaii than just grass skirts and mai tais. There’s an ancient culture to discover, unique foods to experience and places found nowhere else on Earth to see. That’s why I love the newest addition to the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa – a complimentary sail aboard an ancient Hawaiian canoe.

There’s nothing cheesy about it. No tiki torches or headdresses; no gondola-style cruises because it’s the passengers who do all the paddling. Simply put, the Sheraton sail offers an authentic opportunity for tourists to learn more about the Hawaiian culture. They venture through Keauhou Bay and see historic sites along the way.

The new program is part of the Sheraton Kona Resort’s recent $20-million renovations to the lobby, hotel rooms and restaurants. A local organization called the Nakoa Foundation recently partnered with the resort to provide this educational sailing program aboard the Kinikini. The overall mission is to help participants examine the Hawaiian sailing canoe from its forest origin to the ocean and to create a h3 sense of place through each experience.

Before the hour-long sail starts, guests get a 50-minute complimentary walking tour along the bay. It’s led by the Sheraton’s cultural activities director, while the sailing tour is led by the foundation’s executive director, Kalani Nakoa. He’s a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton captain, pe master and life guard who shares a passion for the Hawaiian culture.

Hopefully there will be more cultural activities like this in the works for other Hawaii hotels and resorts. I know that many tourists look forward to not only learning about Hawaii’s culture but experiencing it, as well.

FREE SAIL ON ANCIENT CANOE REPLICA • Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa, 78-128 Ehukai St., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 • Tues-Thurs, beginning at 11am (Free to guests) • Reservations required, 808-930-4894, ldudoit@sheratonkeauhou.com

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