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TravelWeekly features: Traditional Island Sports at The Lodge at Kukui'ula

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With Lodge at Kukuiula, a deep dive into traditional island sports

Many visitors to the Hawaiian Islands include signature watersports like surfing or outrigger canoeing on their vacation checklists, but these endeavors take much more than a two-hour group class to grasp. Being shoved into a wave by a surf instructor can make for a great vacation photo, but does not establish a foundation for continuing to grow in the sport.

"Some of these activities take way more than an hour and a half to learn," said Mariko Lum,  hospitality ambassador at The Lodge at Kukuiula on Kauai's southern shore and a competitive stand-up paddleboarder. "To truly understand them it's not even days, but years of experience that's required."

In 2019, The Lodge at Kukuiula is kicking off a series of intensive programs that give participants a crash course in some of the Hawaiian Islands' most iconic water activities: canoe sailing, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and outrigger canoeing. Each program runs three hours a day for three consecutive days, and at the end of the course, participants are expected to have the foundational knowledge needed to continue growing in the sport.

"The general manager and I were talking about it, and we wanted to do something that would set us apart and be a unique offering," Lum said. "It can be really exhausting and draining to try and get all of these lessons and skills into a single day, and we thought multiple days would lead to the best experience and growth."

In addition to the expected lesson on reading waves, paddling and popping up on a board, the surf course includes etiquette, reading swell reports, caring for your board, water safety and other skills. Participants in the sailing canoe intensive learn the basics of steering, raising the sail, lashing the canoe and sailing knots.

"I've seen these things change people's lives," Lum said. "They may not think they can do it, or they may be outside their comfort zone. And then when they go through the training and really accomplish their objective, something they thought they couldn't do, it's really empowering."

Lum feels many of the more active guests neglect the recovery aspect of sports and exercise, and has built a rest and rejuvenation element into the program. At the end of each day's sessions, guests are invited to go to the spa for steam, sauna and a cold plunge to reinvigorate the body.

The sailing intensive will kick things off in January, followed by the stand-up paddleboard intensive in March, the surfing intensive in May and the outrigger canoe program in June. Each intensive program costs $1,200 per person.

"These sports are really lifelong journeys, and we want to help people take it to another level," Lum said. "We hope the programs will inspire and empower members with appropriate skill levels to feeling comfortable to do more on their own."

In September, Two Roads Hospitality, under its Destination Residences Hawaii brand, took over as the operator for The Lodge at Kukuiula, and set out to install more robust programming at the property. The Lodge at Kukuiula includes access to the Clubs at Kukuiula, including an 18-hole golf course, the on-site Huakai Outfitters shop and adventure guide program, full-service spa and fitness center, a 10-acre farm & lake, two restaurants and a kids' club. There are 38 club residences available for nightly reservations, ranging from one to four bedrooms and all including kitchens and private patios.

Earlier in 2018, the property kicked off The Living Well Yoga Guru Series, a four-day fitness and wellbeing program with an international group of invited yogis.

"We're also working on intensive programs for kayak fishing and wild boar hunting," Lum said. "But we still have to work out the details on those."