of ancient Hawaiian culture to the fore, including hula (the
graceful art of storytelling through movement and chants),
visual art, song and more. In 52 days, the crew successfully
sailed from Hawaii to Tahiti and back.
In the interest of space, I jump for ward to today; since
that first maiden voyage, two generations of Hawaii school-
children have learned the ways
of their ancestors through the
eyes (and words) of the men and
women who now sail on this ves-
sel. From language and history to
accomplishments in the oceans,
that spread of knowledge continues
today in part with the financial and
marketing support of the Polynesian Voyaging Society,
which also conducts outreach through current voyages.
In 2018, these vessels arrived in places like Sausalito,
San Francisco’s Hyde Street Pier and Half Moon Bay,
welcoming aboard school groups, outrigger canoe clubs,
environmentalists, scientists, technologists, celebrities and
others to walk the decks and learn how the crew is navigat-
ing open waters without instrumentation and working
toward a healthier future for our planet’s oceans.
Fortunately for many, some of the experiences of
Hokule’a and Hikianalia can be had during a visit to
Hawaii. Hotels and resorts keen on preserving their sense
of place and connection to all things Hawaiian culture are
now offering informative activities like daily classes and
weeklong seminars. Whether you’re interested in a sunrise
paddle lesson or a more direct connection to the legacy
exemplified by these historic vessels, here are destinations
to consider for your next Hawaii holiday.
When the Kelly family opened their first hotel more than
half a century ago, it was with the spirit of the ocean and
all it provides for Hawaii at top of mind. Today, although
the family recently sold their holdings, the cultural ties
between each of their hotels and the surroundings remain
strong. While the Outrigger Waikiki is themed around surf
(the famous Duke’s Waikiki is on the ground floor, ocean
fronting), the Outrigger Reef, also directly on Waikiki
Beach, is entirely focused on sailing canoes and those who
piloted them. Pull up to the porte cochere and look up
— you’re standing in a canoe hale, or house, where ancient
voyagers would store their canoes to protect them from
the elements. Resort cultural adviser Luana Maitland’s
knowledge of Hawaiian practices and how to share them
with guests of all ages may be unparalleled on the island;
she oversees and often leads daily classes in subjects like
lei-making or hula. Yet this isn’t Elvis’s Blue Ha waii hula;
this is “talk story,” how tales were passed from Maitland’s
grandmother to her and her 13 sisters and now to a new
generation. Ocean family suites at Outrigger Reef are $400–
$950 per night; penthouse suite starts at $1,500 per night.
Daily cultural programming starts at 9 a.m. and is free.
On the island of Kauai, guests at Kukui’ula can enroll in
a three-day “Canoe Sailing Intensive” that focuses on
upping your sailing skills. Led by world champion sailing
canoe steersman and captain Jason Dameron, you’ll learn
a combination of paddling, ocean safety, recovery and
other lessons. Ending each day with a visit to the spa for a
cooldown experience doesn’t hurt either. Rooms start at
$750 per night; the three-day canoe camp starts at $1,440
per person. kukuiula.com
The crew members, who had
diverse backgrounds and expert
skills, were quietly reclaiming the
power and prowess of generations
of ocean voyagers.
Interested in learning
more about Hokule’a
and Hikianalia and
how you can visit the
vessels or donate to
keep them sailing?
Opener: Canoeing at
Outrigger Reef Waikiki.
Opposite page: Sailing
the Hikianalia with the
Society. Above: Riding the
water at Kukui’ula in Kauai.