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KS Executive Strategy Consultant Dr. Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni and captain/master navigator Kalepa Baybayan were among the crew members aboard the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa as it reached Havana, Cuba.

Waʻa Wednesday: Hōkūleʻa Arrives in Cuba

Mar. 22, 2016

Hōkūleʻa has reached another “first” in her Worldwide Voyage: arrival on the shores of Cuba. The vessel reached Havana on Friday at 7:30 a.m. local time, after traveling over a thousand nautical miles from the British Virgin Islands, where the canoe was most recently docked.

Kamehameha Schools Executive Strategy Consultant Dr. Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni was a member of the leg 18 crew that traveled to Cuba.

“We are really looking forward to meeting some of the local poʻe and learning more about their perspectives and stories,” she wrote in a blog post highlighting the many interesting things the crew has learned about Cuba thus far.

In an interview with KHON2 News, Kanaʻiaupuni shared,“It was just completely surreal because I wanted to come for two decades now and just knowing we could never do that from the United States and just seeing it as we came in and there was just this giant fort on the side.

“Some parts of it were reminiscent of other places that I’ve been but at the same time, I’m ‘oh my gosh this is Cuba, it’s Cuba, Cuba libre,'” she added.

This firsthand experience of the knowledge and development that Mālama Honua can provide at multiple levels will help to inform KS' work on outcome six of SP2020. Movements like Mālama Honua give students the motivation and context to become culturally grounded, global leaders that can have influence at a broad level.

Read Kanaʻiaupuni's blog experience of sailing into and touring Havana.

"Being part of this hardworking crew who just completed a historic sail to this island country in the Caribbean Sea is nothing short of amazing," said Kalepa Baybayan, captain and master navigator. "We're anticipating great learning experiences to emerge from our engagement with Cuba's local community and customs. Our crew is also looking forward to sharing with Cuba's residents Hōkūleʻa's Mālama Honua message of taking care of our precious natural resources."

While in Cuba, the crew plans to visit Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and meet with the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples about US-Cuban relations. They also plan to meet with leaders of urban sustainability and marine conservation efforts in Cuba.

From Cuba, Hōkūleʻa will sail up to US waters and stop at Key West before making her arrival in the continental US at Everglades City, FL at the end of March. From Florida, the canoe will travel up the US East Coast. She is scheduled to arrive in New York City by June 8, 2016 to be part of the United Nations' World Oceans Day.

Since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, Hōkūleʻa has sailed more than 21,500 nautical miles and made stops in 12 countries and 55 ports, weaving a "Lei of Hope" around the world. Along the way, more than 160 volunteer crewmembers have helped to sail Hōkūleʻa accompanied by escort vessel Gershon II to spread the message of mālama honua (or taking care of Island Earth) by promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness, as well as exchanging ideas with the countries she has visited.

So far, crew members have connected with over 45,000 people in communities across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean including Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa and Brazil. For a midway recap of the Worldwide Voyage, please view

For more information about the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Worldwide Voyage, visit or find the society on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+. To see more Wa‘a Wednesday stories and much more about the Mālama Honua Voyage, go to the KS Online Mālama Honua page.



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