A Native Hawaiian Place of Learning for Voyagers of the World


Holomoana - Sail Plan

Ho’okele, meaning “to steer,” is also the term for navigator and voyager.  When we think about steering a wa’a kaulua (double-hulled canoe), what comes to mind is the hoe uli, the long steering paddle that guides the canoe along the ala kai, or “sea road.”  

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What are the DOLDRUMS?

The “Doldrums” (the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone) is a popular nautical term that refers to the belt around the earth near the equator where sailing ships sometimes get stuck on windless waters.

Why is the water so calm?


Due to intense solar heating near the equator, the warm, moist air is forced up into the atmosphere like a hot air balloon.


As the air rises, it cools, causing persistent bands of showers and storms around the earth’s midsection.


The rising air mass finally subsides in what is known as the horse latitudes, where the air moves downward toward earth’s surface.


Because the air circulates in an upward direction, there is often little surface wind in the ITCZ. This is why the waters can be calm for weeks! And that’s why they call it the Doldrums.

(Source: Maritime Executive)

The Doldrums, following Ka Piko O Wākea.

The equator on the earth is called Ka Piko o ka Honua, which sits on the piko or the center of the earth. Here are the names by which early Hawaiians recognized cardinal directions.

Nainoa Thompson

“The doldrums is a place where two oceans come together, where sea and sky merge. It is a place of great calm and even greater storms.”

Nainoa Thompson,
Pwo Navigator and President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS)

Crew Reflections

Spring 2021

Journey along with the crew of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia on their first deep sea training voyage of 2021 to the Doldrums, which will bring together both vertern and new crew members

Learning Activities

Lesson Plan / Grades 1-3 / Science

Learn about the cardinal points while navigating the honu around the ocean litter and not into it on his way to getting food.

Lesson Plan / Grades 3-6 / Math

Students will practice calculating speed, distance and duration of a voyage by using basic math skills.

Watch this fascinating interview with Nainoa Thompson as he describes what the Doldrums means to him. Originally released October 16, 2020 by the Kaʻiwakīloumoku Pacific Indigenous Institute.