Lonely Planet Writer

Hokule’a weaves its lei of hope around the world

A Polynesian sailing ship that has been voyaging around the world for almost three years is weaving a ‘lei of hope’ around the world, according to organisers of the voyage.

Hokule'a sailing around the world.
Hokule’a sailing around the world. Image by HongKongHuey / CC BY 2.0

Along the way, it’s travelled more than 45,000 miles and counting, and has stopped in 46 ports spread out across eleven countries.

The Hokule’a, or Star of Gladness, is a double-hulled sailing canoe that doubles as an experiential training programme for students and communities. It’s intended to promote values of respect and care for self, others, culture and the environment. Crewed in part by volunteers – so far there have been more than 160 – it was built in the 1970s to replicate similar vessels used by Polynesians centuries ago, and it is sailed using traditional navigation methods.

The venture is the brainchild of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a Hawaiian organization that seeks to preserve traditional Polynesian methods of navigation. The Polynesian presence across the Pacific, including in the ocean’s remotest corners such as Easter Island, is testament to the Polynesian mastery of the sea.

The Hokule’a is currently traversing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in the Malama Honua (‘taking care of island Earth) Worldwide Voyage. This will be its longest leg so far: some 4,200 nautical miles, beginning in Cape Town, South Africa on Christmas Day. It passed the island of Saint Helena – where Napoleon spent his last days – on 8 January. The ship’s next port of call will be Ilha Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, an archipelago and Unesco Marine World Heritage site. Then it will continue to continental Brazil and northward through the Caribbean, eventually reaching New York in time for World Oceans Day on 8 June.

Read more: hokulea.com