Hawai'i State News

Legendary voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa embarking on 4-year circumnavigation of Pacific

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Hōkūleʻa is about to embark on a four-year circumnavigation of the Pacific, staring in Juneau, Alaska. (Chris Blake/Polynesian Voyaging Society)

Hōkūleʻa, the legendary voyaging canoe that revived the lost art of Polynesian voyaging and navigation and sparked a cultural renaissance in Hawaiʻi, is preparing to embark on a four-year circumnavigation of the Pacific. 

This Moananuiākea Voyage, led by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, will make its global launch on June 15 from Juneau, Alaska. 

The four-year expedition will cover an estimated 43,000 nautical miles around the Pacific, visiting 36 countries and archipelagoes, nearly 100 indigenous territories and more than 300 ports. 

Moananuiākea refers to the vast waters of the earth’s largest ocean.


The goal of the voyage is to ignite a movement of 10 million “planetary navigators” by developing young leaders and engaging communities around the world to take part in navigating earth towards a healthy, thriving future. 

The voyage is a global educational campaign to amplify the vital importance of oceans and indigenous knowledge through port engagements, education and storytelling shared via a virtual “Third Canoe” called Waʻa Honua,  which translates to “a canoe for the earth” (www.waahonua.com). 

The Polynesian Voyaging Society and its educational partners are creating stories and lessons for all ages to inspire people to care for and make better choices for the earth.

  • Hōkūleʻa, the legendary voyaging canoe. (Polynesian Voyaging Society)
  • Hōkūleʻa, the legendary voyaging canoe. (Polynesian Voyaging Society)
  • Hōkūleʻa, the legendary voyaging canoe. (Polynesian Voyaging Society)
  • Hōkūleʻa, the legendary voyaging canoe. (Polynesian Voyaging Society)

“We begin with a 31-year relationship with the native people of southeast Alaska,” said Nainoa Thompson, Pwo Navigator and CEO of the society. “And I think Alaska is the appropriate place to begin because in the end this is about family — the family of the earth. And so we go from one family to another, building relationships grounded in respect and trust — a crucial pathway for peace.”


To pay homage to the society’s Alaska family, Hōkūleʻa is on a pre-voyage Alaska Heritage Sail. The first stop was Yakutat, home of the late Byron Mallott, whose leadership in the early 90ʻs enabled the donation of two 200-foot Sitka spruce logs to Hawaiʻi for the hulls of the  voyaging canoe Hawaiʻiloa. 

Hōkūleʻa will also visit Hoonah to honor former Sealaska Forestry Manager, the late Ernie Hillman, who was tasked to find and fell the two spruce trees. Finally, Hōkūleʻa will stop in Haines, home of the late Judson Brown, an Alaska Native elder whose profound kindness and compassion for another native people trying to revive and hold onto tradition, lead them to Byron, Ernie and ultimately, as Judson said, “the gift of our children.”

On June 10, Hōkūleʻa is scheduled to return to Juneau and will be greeted with a traditional tribal welcome ceremony at Auke Bay, the traditional lands of the A’akw Kwáan. The canoe and crew will remain in Juneau for a few days of community and educational engagements.  The Alaska Host Committee includes representatives from Sealaska Corp., First Nations Institute and Tlingit & Haida Tribes of Alaska.

On June 15, the society will hold the Global Launch of Moananuiākea Voyage, a four-hour ceremony to bless and celebrate the start of Hōkūleʻa’s circumnavigation of the Pacific. Hōkūleʻa’s departure will be dependent on weather. 


Upon departure, she will voyage south with scheduled stops in Angoon, Kake, Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan, Saxman, Metlakatla and Hydaburg. 

Both the welcome and launch ceremonies will be live-streamed on www.ktoo.org and www.hokulea.com.  The June 10 Arrival and Tribal Welcoming ceremony will be 3 to 7 p.m. (Alaska Time). The June 15 Moananuiākea Voyage Global Launch ceremony will be 2 to 6 p.m. (Alaska Time).

Hōkūleʻa’s sister canoe Hikianalia will join the voyage in Seattle, Wash., in August of this year.

Regional Sail Plan (Subject to change):

  • June to September 2023 – Alaska, British Columbia, Seattle
  • September to November 2023 – West Coast of the United States
  • January  to February 2024 – Mexico, Central America, South America
  • March to December 2024 – Exploring the largest country in the world, our country, Polynesia
  • December 2024 to May 2025 –  Aotearoa 
  • May to March 2026  – Melanesia, Micronesia and Palau
  • March to September 2026 – West Pacific, ending in Japan  
  • September to December 2026 – Shipping from Japan to Los Angeles then sailing home to Hawaiʻi
  • Spring 2027 – Tahiti

For additional information about the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Moananuiākea Voyage, visit www.hokulea.com and www.waahonua.com or follow @hokuleacrew on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Editor’s Note: The original story had the wrong photo of Hōkūleʻa, the legendary voyaging canoe, but instead its sister canoe.

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