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Kaiwa'a was founded by champion paddler Kai Bartlett who has been building canoes in Hawaii for over 20 years. After working for other canoe manufactures and finding a love for the sport Kai decided to design and manufacture his own canoes.


In Kai’s journey of shaping the most desirable canoe he also became a world-renowned paddler claiming 5 Molokai World Championship Solo and 7 Molokai World Championship Relay canoe paddling titles. He was also a part of 3 Molokai Hoe victories with Lanikai Canoe Club. His increasing skills as a paddler continues to enhanced his knowledge as a canoe designer.


Kai currently lives in Maui where he still paddles competitively and continues his journey to push limits, tweak designs and have the very best canoe design in the market.



My name is Kai Bartlett and I consider myself an adventrepreneur.  I use the epic adventures in my life to clear my mind, gain inspiration and ultimately drive my business.  I am lucky enough to have developed a company and brand that encompasses the lifestyle I love. 

Kai Wa'a is a representation of the lifestyle I live each and every day. 




In 1995 Dave Silva, a high school friend, talked me into building canoes with him for John Martin (Hawaiian Designs).  I quickly took to canoe building and found a love for paddling.  I went on to build canoes for Karel Tresnak (Outrigger Connection) and also learned the art of designing from long time canoe designer, Brent Bixler. 

In 2001, I combined my knowledge of canoe building with my expanding knowledge of paddling to start Kai Wa'a.  

Since starting my career as a canoe builder I have increased my knowledge as a paddler which has helped in my journey of shaping the most desirable canoes.  I have been fortunate enough to claim 5 Molokai World Championship Solo titles along with partnering with some of the best to achieve 10 Molokai World Championship Relay titles.  I was also honored to be a part of 3 Molokai Hoe victories with Lanikai Canoe Club.


I am thankful each day to be living this Kai Wa'a lifestyle I love and to be able to make a living doing it.


From a fun day of fishing to some long downwind runs in remote locations, theres always an adventure to be had with friends and family. Traveling to paddling locations like the Columbia River Gorge or Chattanooga, Tennessee offer spectacular experiences.


From day one I was taught that quality is integrity. With it you succeed, without you will fail. I have to trust in my product before it goes into the hands of others.


It's amazing.  Through paddling, I have become friends with so many people/paddlers all over the world.  We have similar passions in life and share many great experiences.  From as far east as France to far west as Australia the paddling community thrives.


It's a great pleasure to share your experiences with your children, wife, parents, and close friends. Educating my children of the lessons I have learned out on the ocean and best of all spending quality time with them on the water.

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