The beautiful 57-foot single-masted waʻa kaulua (double hull canoe) stewarded by BYUHawaii and maintained by the Polynesian Cultural Center is set to launch May 30th from Haleʻiwa Harbor and will be participating in the FestPAC Wa’a arrival on June 5th at Kuoloa.


Iosepa was last launched 8 years ago. This upcoming sail in June is momentous as it is part of the 13th Festival of the Pacific Culture & Arts (FestPAC) on Oʻahu. The festival celebrates the culture and heritage of the Pacific, which is part of the mission of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Kealiʻi Haverly who assisted in gaining approvals from BYUHawaiʻi for the Center to sail their canoe shared, “Voyaging is a critical part of being Polynesian. And therefore, seeing the opportunity to further showcase Iosepa to the world that our people are innovative and incredible.”  

“The legacy of Iosepa is that it’s a special canoe. Iosepa is not like any other canoe out there. Currently, there are only two large waʻa kaulua in Hawaiʻi that are completely carved from wood. Then, there’s the legacy of the community, along with the people who have come before us to make this possible. We must remember their stories and their legacies that got us to where we are, Mark Ellis, the Director for Voyaging Experiences, and the individual overseeing the preparations and sail, shared. 

Iosepa is scheduled to navigate Oʻahu’s waters for all of June. Embarking on a month-long journey, the canoe’s route is planned to encompass a series of ports of call around the island. From the bustling harbor of Honolulu to the shores of Waiʻānae, the canoe will sail around the island, stopping at key locations to engage with local communities and share the spirit of aloha. Each port of call presents an opportunity for cultural exchange and collaboration, as the crew members connect with residents and visitors alike, fostering meaningful connections and celebrating the rich diversity of Polynesian heritage. With a steadfast commitment to honoring tradition and promoting unity, Iosepa’s voyage symbolizes the enduring bond between culture, voyage, and community, inspiring all who encounter it to embrace the spirit of exploration and discovery. 

The journey of Iosepa embodies the deep connection between culture, voyaging, and community. As it sets sail, the canoe carries the legacy of Polynesian seafaring traditions and the dreams of generations. With a carefully planned route and dedicated crew, it acts as a bridge between distant shores, promoting unity and understanding. At each stop, the canoe shares the message of aloha, reflecting Polynesian values of compassion and cooperation. This voyage highlights the power of exploration to unite and enrich communities, fostering shared experiences and mutual respect. As we witness the journey of Iosepa, may we embrace adventure and connection, cherishing our heritage and strengthening the bonds that unite us globally.