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Kahoolawe Navigation

Kaho'olawe is situated at the piko (navel) of the Hawaiian chain; this central location made the island ideally positioned to observe, teach and learn the winds, ocean currents and trajectories of the sun and stars - the essential tools of non-instrument navigation.

Ancient Hawaiian BoatFor more than a thousand years, guided by their intimacy with nature, na ho'okele kahiko (ancient navigators) embarked upon the historic months-long voyages between Hawai'i and Tahiti from a traditional launching site - the westernmost point of Kaho'olawe - known as Lae'o Kealaikahiki (Point of the Pathway to Tahiti).

By knowing where the sun rises and sets on the horizon, plus the direction and characteristics of winds and currents, the navigator determines the canoe's position during the day. At night, guided by na hoku pa'a (the fixed stars), which also follow seasonal sky routes, the navigator holds course relative to those trajectories until the sun rises again.


Kaho'olawe is still recognized as an ideal classroom for new generations of non-instrument navigators.

In October of 2004, the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission, together with the Project Kaho'olawe 'Ohana, Grand Master Navigator Mau Piailug of Satawal, and the captains and crew members of hte eight voyaging canoes of Hawai'i, dedicated an observation platform at Lae'o Kealaikahiki for use as a centerpiece for the education and training of novice and future wayfinders from the voyaging 'ohana (family) of Hawaii.

Like their ancestors before them, today's navigators sail into the vastness of the seas guided solely by the winds, the ocean currents, the sun, and stars.

The kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission manages the island of kaho'olawe and its surrounding waters. Support of KIRC's cultural, environmental and marine resources restoration programs may be made by tax-deductible donations to the Kaho'olawe Island Rehabilitation Trust Fund. For more information please contact the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve commission at (808) 243-5020 or visit www.kahoolawe.hawaii.gov.

Kahoolawe Island

Mahalo to Polynesian Voyaging Society and Na'alehu Anthony/Paliku Documentary Films for the use of the voyaging canoe image. Mahalo to Hoaloha 'Aina, Ho'olawa Farms and the Hawai'i Tourism Authority for their support.


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