Navigating The Stars | Go Hawaii

Navigating The Stars

下に
スクロール

Kala Tanaka

Navigator
The stars shine bright above Maui. Kala Tanaka sits on the sand overlooking the ocean on the west side. Kala is a voyager and an educator at Hui o Waa Kaulua, Maui’s Voyaging Society. When she stays on land for too long, she begins to long for the sea. But it hasn’t always been that way.

Kala’s father, Kalepa Baybayan, is a master navigator, and was one of the original crew members of the legendary Hokulea voyaging canoe. In 1976, the Hokulea travelled from Hawaii to Tahiti, without modern instruments. That historic journey revived the art of voyaging, which was close to being forgotten in Hawaii. 

But Kala didn’t even go on her first sail until college. Her curiosity about voyaging led her to reach out to her father. In 2006, after a short sail from Oahu to Lahaina, she was hooked. In 2017, a little more than 10 years from going on that first crossing, she crewed on the Hikianalia voyaging canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti. 

Tomorrow she’ll be back in Maalaea Bay on the canoe, Mookiha o Piilani. It’s a boat she has a deep connection to, not only because she was there when the canoe was birthed, but because it’s the boat she teaches on for a new generation of voyagers.

“I feel my ancestors calling me in the clouds, in the rain, in the rainbows, in the birds. When we're getting close to home.”


How did you learn the art of navigating?

So, Papa Mau (Mau Piailug) was the master navigator that taught Nainoa Thompson, who taught my father, who in turn, taught me. When I first started sailing I wasn't forced to do it. My father let us do whatever we wanted to do. He said if I was going to voyage that I'd have to find my own way to the canoe. And that's what I did. My choice to be a voyager was my choice alone.


How did you fall in love with voyaging?

The stars have always been what have intrigued me from that first time I sailed. Even now, I’m still intrigued by the stars. There was something about navigating that grabbed me. It was that feeling that I – as a person, as a human being – can have this connection with my environment if I would just open myself up to listen to it.

Tell us about your relationship with your father. 

My dad was pretty involved in sailing. I didn’t really feel like I had a strong relationship with him when we were growing up. When I got involved voyaging later, that’s when I felt like our relationship grew. I think we share a very special relationship because we’re able to sail together. But, I’m still his daughter. He scolds me a lot, but I can take it (laughs).


How does navigating without instruments work?

We memorize the rising and setting points of stars and use those to orient ourselves in our physical space so that we can navigate from place to place. I used to think that we would go to things. But that island out there was always there and all you’re doing in your place is you're making it come to you. It's the magic of navigation. The ocean swells, the wind, the fishes, the birds that are all out there – you may think that they exist independently, but there is a whole story, a whole dialogue that's happening and they're telling you where you are if you would just listen.

“But that island out there was always there and all you’re doing in your place is you're making it come to you. It's the magic of navigation.”


As a navigator, what’s your relationship with your canoe?

The canoe, the waa, is spiritual. It has its own mana (spiritual power). The canoe is a connector and it connects people and places together, things that you see and things that you cannot see. The canoe is our mother, the navigator is our father, the crew, we are all brothers and sisters. In that way we're just one family, all of us, and we rely on each other. 



How does voyaging connect you to your ancestors?

My kupuna had this deep connection with their environment and everything that surrounded them. So, I feel like when I’m voyaging that they’re with me. They’re on the canoe. And when I’m steering or navigating or looking at the sky or watching the sun, that’s our moment together. I’m feeling what they felt.


Why is wayfinding so important to Hawaiian culture?

Wayfinding is important because it's who we are, as voyagers, as Hawaiians, as oceanic peoples, that's who we are. It’s a deep, connection to everything that surrounds you. You and the sky, you and the birds, you and the sea – you’re not separated. You’re one.

More Stories

Kauai

Leinaala Jardin

A teacher dedicates her life to take on the duty of bringing hula—the life of Hawaiian culture—from prohibited to celebrated.

More

Kauai

Brandon Baptiste

A chef gives up culinary fame to come home, and reinvents a humble plantation-era dessert with world-class technique and local ingredients.

More

Maui

Isaac Bancaco

A spearfisherman and chef exemplifies taking only what you need, defending the ocean’s bounty and representing local farmers and fishermen in his cuisine.

More

Maui

Dustin Tester

A trailblazing big-wave surfer empowers women to overcome the gnarliest challenges through surf therapy, just like she did.

More

Molokai

Greg Solatorio

A cultural practitioner sacrifices everything to carry on his ancestors’ way of life, even as the modern world encroaches.

More

Lanai

Anela Evans

A cultural practitioner bridges both worlds so that luxury and ease can coexist with the grit and authenticity that shaped her native land.

More

Hawaii

Cliff Kapono

A young Hawaiian leaves home to further his education and returns with the ability to use chemistry as a platform to share ancestral wisdom with the modern world.

More

Oahu

Kyle Reutner

An ex-bartender works with Hawaiian researchers and local farmers to return glory to noble cane with craft and mixology, redefining the Mai Tai as a worthy cocktail.

More

Oahu

Keone Nunes

A Native Hawaiian tattooist bestows ancient, hand-tapped kakau upon worthy recipients willing to endure a rite of passage.

More

Browse Hawaii Adventures

Please note: We apologize for any inconvenience, but our preferred business listings below are in English only.
Filter Results
showing 1 - 10 of 1467
Kozi 1
Hawaii
Kohala Zipline
55-515 Hawi Road
Hawi, HI 96719
Summary

Kohala Zipline's Kohala Canopy Adventure features elevated suspension bridges, soaring tree platforms and thrilling ziplines. Whether you are a real zipline enthusiast or a first-time adventure seeker, the Kohala Canopy Adventure will be an unforgettable experience.

Websites
Safety Equipment - Always prepared, KHT provides specialty hiking equipment as needed!
Kauai
Kauai Hiking Tours
5485 Koloa Rd.
Unit #1692
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

Kauai Hiking Tours offers day hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours on Kauai Island. Our local guides are passionate about sharing their knowledge with aloha. We welcome adventurers of all ages & ability levels - several options of beginner, intermediate, and advanced tours are available.

Websites

Pages