Hōkūle‘a – Getting Ready for the Voyage of a Lifetime

Last May, I wrote about the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s plan to sail around the world on the storied Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hōkūle‘a.  What’s even more incredible than the sail plan is that this voyage – which spans 5 years – will be done almost entirely using traditional Polynesian navigation methods.

This knowledge, otherwise known as ‘wayfinding’, involves the use of only one’s natural surroundings (stars, clouds waves, wind, etc) to guide them.  Needless to say, a voyage like this has never been undertaken before.

Hōkūle'a on the Horizon
Hōkūle’a image Polynesian Voyaging Society ® (Photo by ʻOiwi TV)

However, despite the uniqueness of the Worldwide Voyage (WWV), this journey is not about merely navigating a 62ʻ’x20’ double-hulled canoe to circumnavigate the globe.   In fact, if the story of the WWV were simply about making it safely around the world, then the voyage would be considered largely unsuccessful.  Rather, at the core of this amazing endeavor is the idea of stewardship; an idea that is cultural at heart, but ultimately universal.

If we truly wish to leave a better world for our children, then we had better start taking care of it.  As sustainability becomes more and more of a global concern, the members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society recognize that this is an issue that islanders have dealt with for as long as they can remember.

Before and after each sail, crew members get together and say a Hawaiian Pule, or prayer.
Before and after each sail, crew members get together and say a Hawaiian Pule, or prayer.  (Photo by Daniel Lin)

Therefore, the voyage has been given the name Mālama Honua, or “caring for Island Earth”, with a specific emphasis on the idea that this planet is an island in its own way, and that there are lessons of sustainability we can learn from island communities.  It is this reason that makes it worth it for us to sail across 47,000 nautical miles over the next four years, using these canoes as vessels for delivering the message.

WWV Sail Plan
WWV Sail Plan (Courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society)

Thus far, Hōkūle‘a and her sister canoe, Hikianalia, have completed the first leg of the voyage – a 2,495 nautical mile sail around the Hawaiian Islands.  In total, the canoes visited 33 communities and interacted with over 20,000 people, including 175 schools.  All of this was done to ensure that “Hawai’i sails with us”, acknowledging that every journey begins at home and the support we get from our home communities will give us strength when we need it most.

Hōkūle‘a’s Worldwide Voyage: Island Wisdom, Ocean Connections, Global Lessons from Hōkūle‘a Crew on Vimeo.

I will be providing monthly updates on this voyage between now and the expected departure date in May, 2014.  To learn more about the Worldwide Voyage and ways you get involved, click here.

NEXTRenowned Voyaging Canoe Embarks on its Greatest Journey Yet


  1. Kim A. Guerin
    Musqueam, Vancouver, BC, Canada
    July 2, 2014, 5:51 pm

    God Speed PVS Crew & Ohana!
    Hokulea & Hawaii’loa both travelled to the westcoast in spring of 1995. then Hawaii’loa voyaged north following the coast & stopping at First Nation Communities, all the way to Juneau.
    Hokulea voyaged south to San Francisco! Travelling as a crew member from Prince Rupert on was experience of a lifetime! <3 forever in my heart PVS Ohana!

  2. walter rabacal
    las vegas, nevada
    June 24, 2014, 8:06 pm

    mahalo nui loa…you prove to the world that you are truly the navigators of the future…by not using modern navigation to sail the world…be safe and may the Lord guide. protect, and bless everyone on your journey around the world….you will always be in my thoughts and prayers….aloha

  3. MANA Gérard
    June 13, 2014, 12:01 am

    Iaorana e au mau hoa here,
    Te oaoa nei maua o Rosidine e te fetii tamarii ite faatae atu ite faaito ito raa ia outou paato’a na roto i teie moana hohonu, e farerei tatou i TAUTIRA. Maururu e Mahalo

  4. Margaret and William Stout
    May 27, 2014, 10:07 am

    What a great trip to make.We pray for a successful voyage,and the gathering of knowledge.

  5. Margaret and William Stout
    May 27, 2014, 10:03 am

    This is a great adventure and we pray for it to be successful.

  6. Bailey
    Honolulu, Hi
    May 16, 2014, 10:38 pm

    Be well and enjoy! We send our aloha and will follow your journey.

  7. Kalawa'ia Lon
    May 13, 2014, 6:52 pm

    May the sea and stars be your guide, the moon be your light and the wind be your sail. For all that have chosen to travel, usr that courage and wisdom from our ancestry. You all have endearing skills that together will make your voyage very successful. And may your god have his angels protect you from all harm. Make Hawaii proud. Hokulea Hana hou.

  8. Roreti Eritai
    Tarawa, Kiribati
    May 6, 2014, 3:47 am

    It is great to know the Phoenix Islands in the Republic of Kiribati will be part of this worldwide voyage of a life time! There was a version of such voyage in Kiribati years back – “The Voyages of The Taratai I” which was continued by “Taratai II”! Wish all the crew bon voyage!! God bless!

  9. Cheyenne Morrison
    April 11, 2014, 8:05 pm

    You should definitely visit the Louisiade Islands on the east coast of Papua New Guinea, one of the last traditional voyaging cultures left in the world. The boats are used for everyday voyaging and travel hundreds of miles. We are in process of building a traditional “Sailau” outrigger canoe.

    You should follow the Lapita voyage route, see here …

    In 2008, an expedition starting on the Philippines sailed two modern Wharram-designed catamarans loosely based on a Polynesian catamaran found in Auckland Museum New Zealand from the Philippines to the Polynesian island of Tikopia.

    Here are their contact details

    James Wharram
    Inventor of the Wharram Catamaran

    James Wharram Designs
    Greenbank Road, Devoran
    Truro, Cornwall, TR3 6PJ, UK
    Tel: +44 1872 864792

    Andy Smith
    Junction Boat Works Inc.
    Tipolo, Bolod, Panglao Island, 6340, Bohol, Philippines

    Klaus Hympendahl
    Wildenbruch Stasse
    Dusseldorf, 40545, Germany

  10. David Reed
    Louisville, KY
    February 24, 2014, 8:50 pm

    This is such an adventurous voyage and I loook forward to the report in the National Geographic.

    May the good Lord of creation watch over you and protect you all.
    +David Reed

  11. Rose
    Melbourne Australia
    February 22, 2014, 7:48 pm

    GOD speed and good luck, my prayers are with you all.

  12. Ernesto Sante
    Phoenix, Arizona
    February 22, 2014, 11:02 am

    Wayfinding may well be defining man’s obligation to take good care of this earth. Man will,, by misuse, subtract, but the earth, without time duress, will continue to exist. Every member of the planetary system is an essentially contracted pilot that maintains balance of the unknown.

  13. abdullah haider ali
    February 22, 2014, 7:15 am

    i want to ask a question that how can i also be a part of such type of journey?

  14. Westcarth
    Kingston Jamaica
    February 22, 2014, 6:17 am

    Wish I was aboard

  15. Graham
    February 21, 2014, 7:29 pm

    Great idea but doubt this is the first time sorry. In 1947 the great Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl proved conclusively these trips could easily have been undertaken by Polynesian peoples and probably were. The fact the sweet potato grown and eaten throughout Polynesia is of South American origin supports this. Heyerdahl also inspired several successful trans pacific rafting expeditions. Good luck to the crew of Hokule’a. Happy and safe sailing.

  16. Michael
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    February 21, 2014, 1:35 pm

    Dios los proteja! Que pena no puedan pasar x Sudamerica (it`s a pitty they are not coming to Southamerica, probably next time!!)

  17. willemina broodryk
    Paarl capeTown South Africa
    February 21, 2014, 1:32 pm

    This is amazing hope we will be able to see it on National Geographic…..wish i was with….

    February 21, 2014, 12:38 pm

    What a daring voyage . I am scared but wish them the best of luck.

  19. Brenda Kanipe
    Newton, NC, USA
    February 21, 2014, 12:31 pm

    What an amazing and exciting adventure this is! Will be checking in periodically on your progress.

  20. Jill Nuenay
    Tagum, Philippines
    February 21, 2014, 10:05 am

    Bon Voyage! Safe trip to you all on May. May you be blessed and guided all the way. ^_^

  21. JuliaAustralian
    Russia, Moscow
    February 21, 2014, 9:43 am

    I wish I was a part of this voyage. God bless you and good luck!

  22. paul watkins
    February 21, 2014, 9:28 am

    Thanks Nat Geo. All the best to you. Have a safe and rewarding trip. I will be praying and watching for you all.

  23. Nandaka
    Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia
    February 21, 2014, 7:07 am

    Sail for peace. Good Luck!!

  24. Maggie Davey
    February 21, 2014, 5:20 am

    May the gods bless you and keep you safe!

  25. Ben
    February 21, 2014, 12:48 am

    This sounds like a current day reality version of the Thor Heyerdahl Kon-Tiki adventure will be interesting to see the result

  26. Leandro Lopes
    Chicago, IL
    February 21, 2014, 12:09 am

    No mar! que diversão. Vos desejo muita experiencia por esta magnifica oportunidade. Unidos serão sempre mais fortes.

  27. Raul Cortes
    Monterrey, Mexico
    February 20, 2014, 11:53 pm

    God bless you all. How I wish I would be in that trip.
    Good luck!!! =)

  28. Troy
    Tianjin China
    February 20, 2014, 10:07 pm

    J’aime votre expérience, si je peux vous rejoindre, il me fera plaisir

  29. Chris Sunflower
    February 20, 2014, 7:52 pm

    Wow. Simplicity, strength and sustainability in one sailing trip. Sounds like a fantastic adventure! I look forward to reading about their journeys. Thank you National Geographic for sharing their story.

  30. Jason Becker
    February 20, 2014, 7:49 pm

    Go to the edge. Let go.

  31. Braylet Hasner
    February 20, 2014, 7:49 pm

    How do they go to the bathroom?

  32. Wally Yachts
    Adriatic, Mid - island unknown.
    February 20, 2014, 7:01 pm

    Wish I was cruising along side in my $20mill Wally yacht…. Best of luck.

  33. Dee Boenish
    Whidbey is Washington
    February 20, 2014, 5:48 pm

    Herb Kawainui Kane will be watching over you. Safe voyage.

  34. Anne-Marie Cassidy
    Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
    February 20, 2014, 5:25 pm

    Thank you so much for making me aware of this journey, I will watch your updates and look forward to them. This is such a wonderful journey to be a part of. I will be praying for a safe adventure for all, filled with wonder and awe. God Bless them on this trip.

    February 20, 2014, 5:15 pm

    Yes, the great navigators, like you, is a beautiful homenage to Portuguese navigators in the year 1500.
    Best regards.

  36. Luiz Carlos
    February 20, 2014, 4:43 pm

    GOD bless all of you. Good luck!

  37. calvin kinghorn
    United States
    February 20, 2014, 4:29 pm

    Thanks National Geographic thanks for the information of this great voyage, while visiting Papeete Tahiti the capital of French Polynesia say hello to my good friend Benjamin Sinjoux and his family. Benjamin is the mission president of French Polynesia for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Ben and I served missions for our church for 24 months we were assigned to work in Quebec Canada, French speaking. Calvin Kinghorn

  38. gerard Kluck
    The Netherlands Rotterdam
    February 20, 2014, 4:05 pm

    What kind of prove do you have that such a journey has never been taken before?

  39. Peter G Cullen
    February 20, 2014, 3:25 pm

    Great Thanks to National Geographic for letting me know about this voyage…. What a fantastic adventure and what a wonderful Vision and Purpose…. Good luck and blessings for your journey, there will be Billions of people watching your progress and sending you good wishes wherever you go…

  40. Asadul Hakim
    February 20, 2014, 3:04 pm

    I wish I am one of them.

  41. theo kurrus
    February 20, 2014, 2:48 pm

    I would like to sign up for this Nat. Info I`m recieving now, at my home E-mail Thanks, Theo

  42. Sergey
    February 20, 2014, 2:11 pm

    Good voyage to you!

    I would like to join you!

  43. Jenny
    February 20, 2014, 1:57 pm


  44. babito joby
    kerala india
    February 20, 2014, 1:09 pm

    thanks to nat geo for bring this story of voyage. And i wish you good luck to all.

  45. Kitty
    Hong Kong
    January 27, 2014, 3:23 pm

    Kudos to you all. Thank you for bringing forth such positive and inspiring message.

  46. Ikaika Pestana
    January 26, 2014, 2:35 pm

    The crew really appreciates your support from around the world. We wish we could visit everywhere on our voyage but safety trumps all. If a place is outside of the tropics or the schedule would require us to visit a place during their hurricane or monsoon seasons, we just can’t do it. Hokulea is made for voyaging only within the Pacific Ocean tropics and only outside of hurricane season. Just to take her out of the Pacific and into unknown waters is a very dangerous undertaking for crew and canoe alike. We will visit our first people brothers and sisters in the America’s again soon I’m sure.

  47. Dwayne LaGrou
    Lapeer, Michigan
    January 26, 2014, 2:32 pm

    From the Great White North in Michigan, I wish you Luck and Happy Voyages with Good Winds to bring you safely back. I hope you have fun along the way, And keep safe at all costs.

  48. Auikekailoa
    January 25, 2014, 10:06 pm

    May The Great Akua Bless Hokule’a and crew all the way around the world and back safely! The Ocean people are all connected, my prayers and thoughts following you, malama pono Hokule’a….

  49. Manuwai Peters
    Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
    January 24, 2014, 2:57 pm

    Thanks Nat Geo for bringing this voyage and its mission to Mālama Honua to a world wide audience.

  50. Nawahine Haili-Kuraoka
    Kane'ohe, O'ahu, Hawai'i
    January 23, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Mahalo for sharing the cultural tradition of the wa’a “Hokulea” on the their next journey. I continue to read of their travels and travelers on the wa’a. I look forward to more news of the Hokulea.

  51. Jose Miguel Ramirez
    Valparaiso, Chile
    January 23, 2014, 12:50 pm

    So sad they are not sailing eastwards from central south Pacific, as the first Polynesian explorers did around 1000 AD, to meet our Mapuche people in southern Chile, and then going north to Galápagos.

  52. Carol Wong
    Murrieta, CA
    January 23, 2014, 12:12 pm

    I had an amazing experience riding with the Hokule’a crew back in 1995 when Hokule’a sailed into Long Beach, CA.

  53. Mary-Loue Ewards
    January 23, 2014, 11:40 am

    I am sad to see you are not visiting the west coast of Canada. Youtube Tribal Journeys, every year Nations up the BC coast and down to Washington state participate in paddling and feasting. I was so hoping see Hokule’a as I read the article, I was sad to see the map. The Coast Salish people have a strong connection to the ocean. My heart and prayers go with Hokule’a.