Our Voyaging Canoes


On March 8, 1975, Hōkūle‘a, a performance-accurate deep sea voyaging canoe built in the tradition of ancient Hawaiian wa‘a kaulua (double-hulled voyaging canoe), was launched from the sacred shores of Hakipu‘u-Kualoa, in Kāne‘ohe Bay on the island of O‘ahu.

She was designed by artist and historian Herb Kawainui Kāne, one of the founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. The canoe was named Hōkūle‘a (“Star of Gladness”), a zenith star of Hawai‘i, which appeared to him growing ever brighter in a dream. This launching was one of many events that marked a generation of renewal for Hawai‘i’s indigenous people. Along with the renewal of voyaging and navigation traditions came a renewal of Hawaiian language, dance, chant, and many other expressions of Hawaiian culture. The renewal represented a new-found respect and appreciation for Hawaiian culture, by all of Hawai‘i’s people. For the Hawaiian people, it has meant that they once again have begun to feel proud of who they are, and where they come from.

Hōkūle‘a at-a-Glance:
Built in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi and launched on March 8, 1975
Has sailed over 140,000 nautical miles across the Pacific
Length: 62 feet
Width: 20 feet
Hōkūleʻa is also known as Arcturus


Sister canoe to Hōkūle‘a, Hikianalia is journeying around our Hawaiian Islands and Polynesia using science and sustainable technologies to discover stories of hope that are being shared with students and learners of all ages.

Hikianalia (Spica) is named after the star that breaks on the horizon with the star Hōkūle‘a (Arcturus) in Hawaiian skies. They are sister stars because they break the horizon together at the latitude of the Hawaiian islands. While Hikianalia had her own sail plan for part of the Worldwide Voyage, she and Hōkūle‘a had begun and concluded the voyage side-by-side.

Hikianalia at-a-Glance:
Built in Auckland, Aotearoa by Salthouse Boatbuilders (builders of the Pacific Voyagers waka)
Launched for sea trials on September 15, 2012
Set sail from Aotearoa to Tahiti on October 9, 2012. Arrived on October 25.
Length: 72 feet
Width: 23 feet 
Hikianalia is also known as Spica