Molokai, Hawaii---On a budget

The Maui Jim Molokai Surfski race holds an allure for many paddlers and for good reason, the long-standing race has all the features that entice paddlers from around the world: idyllic setting, world class conditions and an opportunity to rub gunwales with the some of the best in the business all intersect to make for a memorable opportunity.


So if you fancy making the trip at some point in your life, perhaps we can help a bit with the planning.


Randall Taylor from Jacksonville, Florida shared his experience at the channel crossing and gave us an idea of what to expect.

Randall Taylor

Randall Taylor


If you are going specifically for the race, you will likely want to arrive a week before, or at least several days prior to the event.  Having time to settle into your surroundings and getting some practice on the water will only enhance your overall experience and give you time to work out any boat and body related issues ahead of time.


The Outrigger Club acts as a central control for the racers. The club has a locker room, showers, restaurant and other amenities available. You can get helpful information here about the race and area in general. The general idea is that you will likely want to base yourself at the Outrigger Club throughout your stay.  The cost to use the facilities should run between $50-$100 for the week.


If you’re looking to keep your costs down, save a few pesos and take the no frills approach by spending the majority of your time either out on the water enjoying the two downwind shuttles daily, in the club or at the beach near the club.  Plan ahead and reserve your lodging in advance near Waikiki beach and the Outrigger Club.  Doing so will not only be convenient but also allows you the option of bypassing the car rental as well, as you will likely be spending all your time in the same general area. 

Lodging, like anywhere else, can be expensive, but if you do some advance searching, you can find a fair deal within walking distance of the beach with efficiencies in the area running as low as $85-$100 per night.  Local resident and recent surfski transplant Beata Cseke recommends using Airbnb for reservations.


Gotta have a chase boat

Another mandatory expense is hiring a Captain and escort boat.  Cost is predicated on current gas prices but you can likely expect to pay somewhere between $800-$1100.  Rentals can be made through the organizer website---Kanaka Ikaika.


All escort boats will cross over the day before the race, so you can either go over on the boat and stay at a hotel the night before or you can book a flight and fly over the morning of the race.


Here is a rough approximation of what you may expect to pay for 5-7 days:


Surfski rental for the week:---$500

Outrigger Club week membership---$100

Escort Boat and Captain---$1000

Lodging for 7 Days -----$800  

Food, airfare, and personal expenditures will vary, but an overall estimation for all of the above should total roughly:





Outrigger Club:

Kanaka Ikaika:



Here are some further recommendations from Beata Cseke:  

For paddlers, a HK run is a must! From Hawaii Kai to Kaimana Beach (7mi) or Magic Island (11mi). Its a pure downwind run passing by Diamond Head Crater and the world famous Waikiki Beach. The water is unbelievably clear, also there are many sea turtles!


Another must do for the paddler is China Wall (1.5 mile before finish)!  Either from the water or from the can be fun and help your race but it can be also very dangerous and break your ski! There are many reefs underwater you won't see until you are right next to it.


For those who are up for a challenge, paddling around the Makauu LightHouse is a good trip. It is on the east tip of the island where many currents meet.  Depends on the day...but waves can reach 8-10 feet high. It's like being in a washing machine, very challenging, choppy water.


Paddling in Kanaohe Bay, on the windward side is also a beautiful option---calm water, beautiful mountains and the local's favorite hang out spot, the sandbar; only accessible by boat or kayak! The best time to go is at low tide, then you stop by and rest on the sandbar and hang out with the locals! 👌

Beata living the dream


Paddling in Hawaii unbelievable, but make sure you have a paddling buddy and a good leash!!!

There are many boats available to rent! has all contact information!


Things to do:

Walking around Waikiki Beach! Many shops and restaurants...a great way to experience the Aloha Spirit!

A few fun places to stop by: Duke's at Outrigger Hotel, Arnold's Tiki Bar, Waikiki Brewery, Kona Brewery in Hawaii Kai.

Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.

Hiking in Oahu: Makapuu Lighthouse, Diamond Head Crater and Koko Head Crater.

Visiting Pearl Harbor and North Shore is also a must to do in Oahu!


There is good public transportation in Oahu. You can get around the island by bus or you can get a cheap rental car as well; the best option is at HNL airport. Parking may be a little difficult in Waikiki though!