Incoming south swell could affect Hokulea’s homecoming celebration


Hokulea’s long-awaited homecoming on Saturday is about the same time a large south swell is supposed to arrive.

The historic voyaging canoe, along with several others, is scheduled to arrive at Magic Island Saturday morning.

But how close they get to Magic Island will be up to Mother Nature.

“There is the possibility that surf will be big enough to close out the channel that we need to come into Magic Island,” said Nainoa Thompson, master navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society president. “Now if that’s the case, we absolutely won’t do that. We won’t bring the canoes in and put them in jeopardy, so the plan B would be to bring the canoes outside the surf line offshore of Magic Island and anchor all the canoes.”

In that case, crew members would be shuttled to Magic Island by smaller powerboats, “but we sure hope it’ll be small enough for us to get in the celebration on Saturday,” Thompson said.

Thompson is currently on Molokai. Kalaupapa is hosting Hokulea and her crew as well as other canoes. It’s a quiet, spiritual time at a special place where Hokulea stopped on her maiden voyage home from Tahiti in 1976.

Forty-one years later, Hokulea is coming home from sailing around the world, as Thompson says, like a needle sewing a lei of hope and peace, with flowers representing the people they met along the way who are working for the health and well-being of earth.

“So Kalaupapa is a place to come here to remind us to be in the spirit of this place, which is foundational in the preparation to come home to remind us, why did we leave on this voyage, and so it’s the last flower onto the lei, then we tie it up and we bring it home,” Thompson explained.

Hokulea’s homecoming at Magic Island in 1976 after her inaugural three-month journey saw thousands turn out by sea and land to see Hawaii’s pride and to celebrate in an outpouring of affection.

Hokulea’s homecoming at Magic Island Saturday after her three-year journey will surely stir the same.

“This is really Hawaii’s voyage. It’s all the children that were inspired by the voyage. It’s all the people who prayed for the voyage. It’s all those who sent goodness and kindness and support of the voyage, and thousands of volunteers, and the list goes on and on,” Thompson said. “This is their voyage, and it’s their day. The homecoming at Magic Island is to deliver Hokulea to the people of Hawaii.”

KHON2 will be airing Hokulea’s homecoming live on Saturday, June 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on our sister station, Hawaii’s CW. It will also be live-streamed on

You can also watch a rebroadcast that night on KHON2 at 6:30 p.m.

Click here for more information.

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