What Is a Canoe Called?

A canoe, a small narrow boat designed to be paddled by one or more people, is called by different names in various cultures around the world. Let’s explore some of these unique terms and learn more about the fascinating world of canoes!

Canadian Canoe

The most common type of canoe is often referred to as a Canadian canoe. These canoes are typically open-top and feature a pointed bow and stern. They are known for their stability and versatility, making them suitable for various activities such as recreational paddling, fishing, and even long-distance expeditions.


While not technically a canoe, the term kayak is often used interchangeably with the word “canoe” in many regions. Unlike traditional canoes, kayaks are enclosed boats where paddlers sit low to the water level. They have a covered deck and use a double-bladed paddle for propulsion.

Dugout Canoe

The dugout canoe is one of the oldest types of canoes in existence. It is crafted by hollowing out a single log or tree trunk. Dugout canoes have been used by indigenous cultures worldwide for centuries as a means of transportation and fishing.

Outrigger Canoe

The outrigger canoe originated in Polynesia and is characterized by its stability-enhancing outrigger floats attached to one side. These canoes were historically used for long-distance ocean voyages and are still popular today in traditional Polynesian cultures.

Folding Canoe

A folding canoe, as the name suggests, is designed to fold or collapse for easy transportation and storage. These canoes are made from a frame covered with fabric or synthetic materials. They offer the convenience of portability without compromising on performance.


The coracle is a small, round boat with a shallow draft and a lightweight structure. Traditionally made from woven materials such as willow or reed, coracles were used by fishermen in regions such as Wales and India.

List of Canoe Names:

  • Waka: A Maori term for canoe, used predominantly in New Zealand.
  • Va’a: A Polynesian term for canoe.
  • Pirogue: A term commonly used in the southern United States to refer to a small canoe.
  • Cayuco: A Spanish term for canoe, often used in Latin American countries.
  • Dugout: The term used for canoes made from hollowed-out tree trunks.

In Conclusion:

Canoes go by various names depending on their design, purpose, and cultural context. From the versatile Canadian canoe to the enclosed kayak and the ancient dugout canoe, each type offers unique features and capabilities. Whether you’re exploring tranquil lakes or navigating rough waters, there’s a canoe out there suited to your needs!

So next time you embark on an adventure on the water, remember that it’s not just called a canoe; it carries with it a rich history and diverse range of names that reflect the ingenuity and adaptability of human culture.

Photo of author

Lindsay Collins