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Hokulea sunset

*Photo Credit: Chris Stankis

Today the name Hokule’a, which means “the star of gladness,” serves as a light for people around the world. A “wa’a kaulua” or Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, the Hokule’a recently returned home to the islands after a more than three-year journey around the world.

The History

Inspired by the ancient canoes that brought the Polynesians and Hawaiians to the Hawaiian Islands more than 600 years ago, the Hokule’a was built by historian Herb Kawainui Kane in the 1970’s. She measures 62 feet in length and 20 feet wide.

Since she was built she has traveled more than 140,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean to revive the ancient practice of traditional, cultural voyaging.

The Global Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage

On June 17, 2017 millions of viewers from across the world tuned in online, while thousands gathered at the shores of Magic Island to witness the homecoming of the Hokule’a. Themed Lei Ka’apuni Honua, which translates to “A Lei Around the World” the homecoming was an all-day event filled with music and entertainment.

During the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, which translates to ‘take care of our Island Earth,’ the crew visited more than 150 ports in 23 countries and territories to meet with communities to discuss and share how we can live more sustainably. The trip included stops in Canada, Samoa, Tahiti, Australia, Panama, Rapa Nui, Caribbean, Brazil, Bali, Aotearoa, and South Africa. The event was historic. It marked the first time in history that a Polynesian voyaging canoe sailed around the world.

The three-year voyage required the assistance of more than 245 crewmembers and was navigated using only the art of wayfinding. Used by ancient voyagers for thousands of years, wayfinding is the method of using the sun, the moon, the stars, wave patterns, ocean currents, and animal behavior to navigate.

Hokule’a Today

For the past four decades, the Polynesian Voyaging Society has used the ageless voyaging canoe to educate the public about the art of historic voyaging. With the help of volunteers and donations from the public, the Hokule’a serves as a vessel of Aloha, perpetuating the culture of Hawaii throughout the world.

After returning from the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage in July, the Hokule’a and her sister canoe Hikianalia, set sail in August 2017 to begin its “Mahalo, Hawaii Sail.” The new expedition is to say “mahalo” to those throughout Hawaii who took part in bringing the Hokule’a home safely during her three-year journey. It will also give participants a chance to share the lessons learned from the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage and gain an understanding of the work being done here to care for the Earth. The first stop on the trip was Honolua Bay on Maui, a historic location in the history of Hokule’a. It was from this same bay that Hokule’a first launched for her maiden voyage decades ago in 1976.

In addition to Honolua Bay, Hokule’a will visit approximately 40 ports and connect with roughly 80 communities throughout Hawaii.

For more information on the Hokule’a’s legacy and journey, and how you can get involved visit