Free the Ocean Blog

Hōkūleʻa’s Epic Voyage: Polynesian Wayfinding Reimagined!

All aboard the Hōkūleʻa and her sister canoe Hikianalia! Imagine navigating the high seas using just the stars, wind, and waves as your guide, just like the ancient Polynesian wayfarers. Too challenging? Not for the next generation of Polynesian adventurers!

On June 15th, these grand vessels will embark on a 43,000-nautical-mile journey around the Pacific Ocean starting in Alaska. This 47-month escapade will touch 36 countries, numerous Indigenous territories, and 345 ports! Who’s managing all this, you ask? A rotating crew of 400 enthusiastic wayfarers, switching every four weeks, is all set to bring this voyage to life.

Photo Credit: Polynesian Voyaging Society

Meet the Legendary Hōkūleʻa

The 62-foot, double-hull voyaging canoe, Hōkūleʻa (“star of gladness”), was born out of a dedication to celebrate and explore Polynesian culture and traditions. This iconic vessel was crafted by the Honolulu-based Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) and has already journeyed across the globe.

Being aboard Hōkūleʻa has a way of making you feel connected to those ancient seafarers, says Lehua Kamalu, Hōkūleʻa’s first female captain. “A lot of people believed this connection was lost, but Hōkūleʻa helps us rediscover it,” she says.

Welcome Aboard the Moananuiākea Voyage

The upcoming Moananuiākea (“the vast Pacific”) Voyage owes its start in Alaska to a bond formed three decades ago. When the PVS couldn’t find large enough koa logs to build a Hawaiian voyaging canoe, the Alaska Native conservation group gifted them two Sitka spruce logs.

“This journey is more than just an adventure; it’s about acknowledging our global Indigenous community and promoting solutions for climate change,” says Randie Fong, leader of the ʻAha Moananuiākea Pacific Consortium.

Keep Track of the Journey

As these canoes traverse the Pacific, you can follow their voyage on The journey will lead them along the west coasts of North and South America, up through Polynesia and north along the West Pacific. In the spring of 2027, Hōkūleʻa will make her triumphant return to Tahiti.

Keep in mind, these voyagers are in for some rough sea days. “Your skin may be soggy for days,” says Captain Kamalu, underscoring the challenges of sailing in open canoes. But, the goal isn’t to test their endurance. It’s about laying the foundation for the next generation of wayfinders.

As we gear up for Hōkūleʻa’s 50th anniversary on May 1, 2026, let’s remember navigator and PVS president Nainoa Thompson’s wise words: “The beauty of voyaging is not to go fast. It’s to go slow and take your time.”

Photo Credit: Polynesian Voyaging Society

More FTO Blogs