Vaʻa is a word in Samoan, Hawaiian and Tahitian which means 'boat', 'canoe' or 'ship'. A larger traditional seagoing vessel for long distance voyages is referred to as vaʻa tele (big ship). The term alia is also used for larger vessels in Samoa. The smaller vaʻa used for fishing typically have a float, or outrigger, attached to the main hull for stability. This outrigger part of the canoe is called ama in various Polynesian languages.
The word is cognate with other Polynesian words such as vaka or the Māori word waka.