The Supreme Navigators of History: Voyagers of the Pacific

By | April 25, 2019

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Hōkūle`a, a Hawaiian wa'a kaulua or voyaging canoe, sailing off Honolulu. Source: (

The Pacific Ocean covers more than 60 million square miles of the Earth, more than 30 percent. It contains double the amount of water from the next largest ocean, the Atlantic. If you took all the continents and combined them, they would all fit inside the Pacific Ocean with room to spare. In it are roughly 25,000 islands of which more than 10,000 are considered a part of Oceania which is divided into four regions: Australia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia.

Micronesia and Polynesia are the most remote and intriguing regions since these areas began to be settled by seafaring colonists as early as 2,000 years ago. Over the centuries, these people managed to settle lands as remote as Hawaii which is 2,400 miles from the nearest landmass and Easter Island which is nearly 2,200 miles from the closest shore.

The people who colonized these remote pinheads in the Pacific did it without compass, sextant, global positioning systems, or Google maps.

So why did they do it?

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Polynesian Double Hulled Canoe. Source: (

 The reasons why the Polynesians would spread across the vast distances of the Pacific are numerous. Population pressures, the need to raid and conquer, the need for better fishing grounds, as well as a sense of adventure,  are all valid, human reasons. Then, of course, there are cases of accidents happening such as ships getting swept away by storms and depositing stunned sailors on the shores of a new island.

How they managed this feat is truly impressive.