About Us - John Gray's Sea Canoe
“National History By Sea Kayak Since 1983 is built upon the motto “We Don’t Do Anything Normal”. And we don’t. We are the original sea cave kayakers everywhere we go, starting with Hawai’i, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Thailand , Vietnam and the Philippines. We use only the best equipment – such as our custom made “Sea Explorer” SOTAR caving kayaks, and and REI camping gear.
We are more than just good fun. Inspired by “Hokule’a” the Polynesian Voyaging Canoe that founded the Hawaiian renaissance that spread across the Tropical Pacific, our purpose since 1983 is to create a top quality learning adventure by sea kayaking along the most dramatic coastlines in the tropical Pacific Basin. Sea caving is just one educational venue in our “Natural History By Sea Kayak:
The concept gained fruition in just two years. In 1985, John, News Anchor Gary Sprinkle and videographer made a documentary “Moloka’i’s Forgotten Frontier” that won not only an EMMY Award, but the US Outdoor Writers Council “Teddy” for the Best Environmental Education Production of 1985.
Once Hawai’i was locked into Environmental Law, John turned his sights on Asia. After being marooned in Phuket after the money for two groups never came from the Hawai’i home office, Gray founded the entire “SeaCanoe” industry on US$28. He founded “SeaCanoe” and paid staff by giving away the shares and kept none for himself. That company won six major awards in five years, but the Thai manager got a big head and fired John. Big mistake. The old company is now in obscurity, and the best guides came over to John Gray’s SeaCanoe – now ASEAN’s premier sea kayaking company. We don’t collect awards any more. Our true awards are Trip Advisor Comments.
John Caveman Gray
A big wave body surfer, journalist and lifetime environmentalist, Ling Yai became a resident of Hawai’i in 1970 – returned to California to finish a scholarship at UCLA – and returned immediately upon graduation in 1974. The timing was magic. Hawai’ was experiencing explosive tourism growth that required planning and management, so John and his carpool of big wave surfers formed “Keep The Country COUNTRY” for properly planned growth. John’s efforts were instrumental in converting Malaekahana, Kahana and Kaiaka Point into State Parks instead of tract home or high rise tourism development. Read more..
“Natural History By Sea Kayak Since 1983” and “We Put You In Your Own Documentary” are parallel themes at John Gray SeaCanoe. We believe that when it fun and interesting people are open and receptive to learn more about the Nature around us. We create a learning environment with top quality staff – build with top quality human resources; top quality equipment, top quality food, and a fun learning environment.
International Ecotourism Awards & Coverage
I’ve been winning awards all my life – sometimes sports, sometimes science, sometimes humanitarian. Thanks to awards, I’ve been the guest of the President of the New York Stock Exchange, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian Institute.
The EMMY was a major surprise. I walked in the door from a South Pacific hurricane trip, a true natural disaster where we ended up rescuing the locals in our kayaks. The phone was ringing. It was Mike May, the cameraman from my Moloka’i show.
“John, you’re back. Be sure to watch the Six O’Clock news.” And Mike hung up. I waited ten hours wondering if it was Fiji hurricane coverage. At 6PM I turned on the news and Bob Jones, famous Vietnam War Correspondent turned News Anchor opened the statewide news by saying live on air “John Gray, I know you ar watching. Break out the lobster and champagne because you just won an EMMY Award.
No piece of hardware can ever equal that memory.
In our first company we won six major awards in five years. We also learned a lot. When I once picked up a “name” ecotourism award, the seat next to me was empty until the last minute. Then a fellow in a fancy business suit sat down next to me.
“Excuse me, but these are the Ecotourism awards. Are you sure you are in the right place?”
He replied, “Yes, I wrote a memo telling all my hotels to turn on their sewage treatment plants.”
From then on, I’ve thrown away the Award applications when they come in the mail. John Gray SeaCanoe did get the SKAL Ecotourism Award – after I refused so many my friends decided I should get my own club’s award. (SKAL has 28,000 members worldwide.) The best award I get these days is standing at the end of the pier at trips end. Guest come hug me with tears in their eyes and comments including ‘Thanks for turning our kids onto Nature” or “Thanks for the best day of my life.
How can a piece of hardware ever replace those moments? No guest has ever had an accident. All guides are trained to international standards including kayaking, lifeguarding, First Aid, hospitality and Natural History. Meal plans are “Best Meal of Our Vacation. Before I took up professional sea kayaking I was Communications Director, Pacific Basin, National Cancer Institute, I brought you the slogan “Eat Less Red Meat”. I learned to practice what I preached. Even now, all food on all our trips is carefully purchased to be chemical free. We serve you net caught fish and shrimp, aeroponic veggies, brown-red-black rice, free range chicken.
Many of John Gray’s staff remains to this day, including his very first hire in June 1990. They form one of the most experienced and professional sea kayaking teams in the Tropics – certainly in Asia,
JGSC is famous for tidal sea cave explorations using custom designed inflatable sea caving kayaks built by SOTAR, the World’s premium white water rafting kayaks. Constructed with Lexitron fabric, the double tube kayaks are extremely reliable, durable and stable – capable of traversing a “window” three decimeters high and one meter wide. Piloted by our experienced professional staff we have never had an accident or been stuck in a lagoon.