The Study Abroad Newsletter

An Up-Close Look on Navigation in Hawaii

By Jeewon Choi | International Exchange Student: Korea University

Traditional Polynesian navigation was used for thousands of years on the Islands of Hawaii. Voyagers crossed the Pacific Ocean without any modern devices. It deeply intrigued me how the people of this island used stars and the moon to find their way out in the ocean, which made me join this Kawili Kine Culture Event. On lecture day, guest speaker Lehua Waipa Ah Nee introduced the story of traveling the sea using the Hawaiian star compass and weather patterns. We were also able to hear the story of the Hokule’a, a Hawaiian canoe that sails using traditional navigation techniques. It amazed me how sailors could navigate their ways with only the sky as their map. Their courage, intelligence, and wisdom were simply admirable.

An excursion to Keaukaha Coast followed the lecture. We took the school vans to visit the coast and recorded what we observed about the weather, trees, water, and the sky in our “Moon Journals”. Just being at the beach on a sunny Saturday morning was refreshing, and it was a great chance to keep up with fellow exchange students. After a nice chat with my friends, I took some time to walk around the coast alone and take in the view and the whole atmosphere. I wrote down what I observed in the journal and shared it with my friends. It made me feel like I could understand the seasons of Hawaii better through this activity and connect with the culture of the Island on a deeper level by learning more about something that was very important to native Hawaiians. I want to thank the hosts of the Kawili Kine Culture Program for providing great chances to learn about Hawaiian culture and explore new places on the island.

Students in Excursion

Students at the Beach