(Redirected from Hawaiiloa)

Hawaiʻiloa (alt. Hawai'i Loa or Ke Kowa i Hawai‘i) is a mythical Hawaiian fisherman and navigator who discovered the island of Hawai'i.


Hawaiʻiloa was an expert fisherman and navigator who was famous for his lengthy fishing expeditions.[1] While on a prolonged voyage, his principal navigator, Makali'i, asked Hawai'iloa to steer eastward towards Aldebaran (Hoku'ula, meaning "red star") and the Pleiades (near the Cluster of Makali'i). After sailing in this direction, he and his crew stumbled upon the island of Hawaiʻi, which was named in Hawai'iloa's honor. Hawaiʻiloa returned to his homeland, Ka ʻāina kai melemele a Kane ("the land of the yellow sea of Kane"), to bring his family back with him to Hawai'i. He then organized a colonizing expedition with his family and eight other skilled navigators. They settled on what is now the Island of Hawaiʻi, named in his honor.[2][better source needed]

The legend contains reference to his children: Maui (his eldest son), Kauaʻi (son), and Oʻahu (daughter) who settled on the islands that bear their names.[citation needed]

Historical AccuracyEdit

The Hawaiʻiloa legend is popular amongst Hawaiians as a realistic Hawaiian origin story that is consistent with modern anthropological and historical beliefs.[citation needed]

However, there is currently little evidence to support its historical accuracy. The story is attested only by 19th-century sources such as Abraham Fornander and Thomas George Thrum, neither of whom provided their sources.[citation needed]

Hawaiʻiloa is also unmentioned by earlier Hawaiian historians such as David Malo. Malo chronicaled many Hawaiian origin stories, migration tales, and legends of indigenous origin.[citation needed] Samuel Kamakau tells of an alternate legend that the first man (Kumuhonua) and woman (Lalo Honua) were created on Oʻahu.[citation needed]


Hawaiʻiloa, Honolulu Harbor

Hawaiʻiloa is also the name of a voyaging canoe, built between 1991 and 1994.[3] Named after the legendary navigator, the canoe was built for ocean navigation and has sailed internationally. The canoe Hawaiʻiloa is now docked at Honolulu Harbor. It is often sailed on long voyages throughout the Pacific Ocean, studying voyaging techniques used in Ancient Hawaii.


To make the canoe, two Sitka spruce logs were brought to Hawai'i from Southeast Alaska, donated by the SeAlaska Corporation (owned by the Tlingit, Haida, and Tshimshian tribes). These came from 400-year-old, 200 feet high trees, a size which could not be found in modern Hawai'i. The hulls of the canoe were designed by Rudy and Barry Choy and Dick Rhodes, and also used numerous woods from more local sources.[3] The canoe was made without metal parts, and used three miles of lashing.[4]

Hawaiʻiloa is 57 feet long, and with a beam of 19 feet. She has two sails, each of 240-420 sq. feet. She was initially launched in July 1993, and subsequently modified in dry dock before being re-launched a year later.[3]

Voyages in 1995Edit

In 1995 Hawaiʻiloa sailed her maiden voyage to Tahiti, Ra`iatea and Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands[5] in company with Hokule'a and a third canoe from Hawai'i called Makali'i together with two canoes from Rarotonga: Te 'Au Tonga and Takitumu, and the canoe Te 'Aurere, from New Zealand. Subsequently that year, Hawai'iloa was shipped to Seattle and then sailed north to Alaska, visiting twenty native villages on the coastal journey between Vancouver and Juneau.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Samuel M. Kamakau and Z. Kepelino: Hawai‘iloa and the Discovery of Hawai‘i www2.hawaii.edu, accessed 25 September 2020
  2. ^ "Origins of Hawaii's Names". Archived from the original on 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
  3. ^ a b c The Building of Hawai‘iloa archive.hokulea.com, accessed 2020-09-22
  4. ^ a b Nainoa Thompson: Recollections of the Building of Hawai‘iloa and the 1995 Voyages archive.hokulea.com, accessed 25 September 2020
  5. ^ Nainoa Thompson - Biography www.ifa.hawaii.edu, accessed 25 September 2020