Crew Profile

Nainoa Thompson


Niu Valley, Honolulu


Moananuiākea Voyage – Leg 1: Juneau to Yakutat, Moananuiākea Voyage – Leg 5: Prince Rupert to Vancouver, Moananuiākea Voyage – Leg 7: Tacoma to San Francisco, Moananuiākea Voyage – Leg 8: San Francisco to Ventura


Nainoa Thompson, Pwo Navigator and CEO of Polynesian Voyaging Society, is the son of environmentalist Laura Thompson and social worker and educator Myron “Pinky” Thompson.

In the early 70s, Herb Kawainui Kane brought Nainoa into the effort to build Hōkūleʻa and introduced him to the dream of using stars to navigate her. Nainoa studied under Master Navigator Mau Piailug and Bishop Museum Planetarium lecturer Will Kyselka. In 1980, Nainoa became the first Native Hawaiian in 600 years to navigate a voyaging canoe to Tahiti without instruments. 

Nainoa has since captained and navigated Hōkūleʻa on more than a dozen voyages and has passed on his knowledge for decades.