The Ways of the Waterman

On Kaua’i, it is a sign of great respect to call someone a waterman, because it means much more than just being good, or even an expert, at activities like surfing or diving, fishing or paddling. To be a waterman (or a waterwoman) means to have knowledge and to understand the ways of the water—ways that are often passed down through ‘ohana.

Hawaiian Waterman

In this sense of the word, the Huaka’i Guides of Kukui’ula are all true watermen. According to Robert Miguel, the head of the Huaka’i Outfitters program, that’s what makes the Guides so special. They understand Kaua’i. And they can all, “Connect guests to the island.”

“This isn’t San Diego or Maui,” Robert says. “Those places have their own ways. It’s different here. So we fold people into the culture of Kaua’i.”

“Like, in the course of going surfing,” Robert explains, “ there are all these other things that are part of the culture here. We’re definitely going to pick some mangoes. We’re going to get a bite to eat somewhere in town. And we’re going to meet up with friends and talk story in the water.”

By the same token, learn to throw net at Kukui’ula and you won’t just learn technique, you’ll learn history, lore and story. Like about oloana, the natural fiber that, like taro, is a revered plant on Kaua’i, once grown and harvested specifically for net making. Or about time-honored techniques fishermen practice to help ensure a good catch. Or the different types of fish you can catch along the shore, the rocks or the reef. Want to know how best to enjoy the flavors of each one? Ask your Guide.

And then take your catch to Chef Ben who’ll prepare it for you—just a nice little extra perk to help you savor Kaua’i.