Polynesian Navigation

Polynesian Navigation is the traditional navigation and wayfinding throughout the expanse of the Pacific Ocean and Pacific islands by the native people and groups of people who explored, settled and inhabitiated the Pacific islands in ancient times and prior to European contact.

Polynesian Navigation included the knowledge and skills including:

Most of the of modern day Polynesian Navigation is based on the teachings of Pius "Mau" Piailug. Mau Piailug is a native Micronesian navigator from the island of Satawal, Yap.

Mau Piailug was able to navigate the Hōkūleʻa double-hulled voyaging canoe on the inaugural voyage in 1976 from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti. This voyage was the first recognized as a long distance Pacific Ocean voyage without use post European contact instruments in hundreds of years.

Mau Piailug shared his knowledge of oceanic navigation and was the teacher of Nainoa Thompson. Nainoa Thompson recognized the fundamentals of Micronesian and Polynesian Navigation overlapped. Nainoa Thompson adapted the teachings of Mau Piailug to a modern day revival of Hawaiʻian navigation. Mau Piailug and Nainoa Thompson's navigation and adaptations are currently in use with the navigators of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

The establishment of the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaiʻi has lead a rivial of modern day Polynesian Navigation. The Polynesian Voyaging Society has also lead the way to additional Voyaging organizations such as:

  • Le Aiga Folau o Sāmoa / Sāmoa Voyaging Society
  • Cook Islands Voyaging Society

Learn more about Polynesian Astronomy >>>

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Sāmoan and Polynesian Dictionary >>

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