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Most travelers rely on GPS to guide them to their destination. But not the crew of Hokulea, a double-hulled voyaging canoe modeled after ancient Polynesian vessels. Over the course of three years and 45,000 nautical miles, its team of navigators sailed around the globe in the manner of their Hawaiian ancestors, taking directional cues only from the stars, wind, seabirds and ocean swells. On June 17, they returned from their landmark journey to Oahu, where thousands of people welcomed them home.
“Holo Moana: Generations of Voyaging,” a new show at Honolulu’s Bishop Museum, charts the remarkable course of Hokulea’s crew by sharing their extraordinary story through immersive exhibits. At one display, for instance, guests feel the breezes that propel voyaging canoes and learn the Hawaiian names of the different wind patterns. At a touch-screen map, they can follow the adventure, learning about different legs of the trip and reading profiles of the people onboard.
In a mini-planetarium, visitors view key celestial bodies that helped Hokulea stay on track and listen to narration by Nainoa Thompson, a master of traditional Polynesian navigation. Archival photographs and films reveal how generations of voyagers have built international relationships using age-old wayfinding techniques.
Also on view in the museum are some of the unique gifts that were offered to Hokulea crewmembers by host destinations along the way, as they stopped in far-flung, exotic spots such as Samoa, Mauritius, South Africa, Panama and the Galapagos Islands.
Exhibit designer Michael Wilson calls the show a must-see for any visitor interested in Hawaiian culture.
“The allure of Hawaii will be forever linked to its environment,” Wilson said. “Visitors to the Holo Moana exhibit will leave not only appreciating the natural beauty of the islands, but they’ll also learn how Polynesians used clues in the stars, the winds and the sea to travel great distances.”
Holo Moana will run through June 24, 2018. Clients without rental cars can take advantage of Bishop Museum’s new open-air trolley service, which stops at several Waikiki locations on the way to and from the attraction.