Hōkūleʻa is a performance-accurate waʻa kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe. Launched on 8 March 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawaiʻi to Tahiti voyage completed with exclusively traditional navigation techniques. The primary goal of the voyage was to explore the anthropological theory of the Asiatic origin of native Oceanic people (Polynesians and Hawaiians in particular) as the result of purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents or sailing from the Americas. DNA analysis supports this theory.A secondary project goal was to have the canoe and voyage “serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians.”
Between the 1976 voyage and 2009, Hōkūle‘a completed nine additional voyages to Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada and the mainland United States, all using ancient wayfinding techniques of celestial navigation. On 19 January 2007, Hōkūle‘a left Hawaiʻi with the voyaging canoe Alingano Maisu on a voyage through Micronesia (map) and ports in southern Japan. The voyage was expected to take five months. On 9 June 2007, Hōkūle‘a completed the “One Ocean, One People” voyage to Yokohama, Japan. On April 5, 2009, Hōkūle‘a returned to Honolulu following a roundtrip training sail to Palmyra Atoll, undertaken to develop skills of potential crewmembers for Hōkūle‘a’s eventual circumnavigation of the earth.
On May 18, 2014, Hōkūle‘a and her sister vessel, Hikianalia embarked from Oahu for “Malama Honua,” a three-year circumnavigation of the earth. She returned to port in Hawaii on June 17, 2017. The journey covered 47,000 nautical miles with stops at 85 ports in 26 countries.