Kayak scouts or—who found the Hawaiian islands?

Hawaii is a testament to the adventurous and courageous spirit of humankind.

How did the first people get here?

Humans are somewhat migratory by nature. And on the larger continents it’s not so difficult to imagine that humans walked outward and spread to far locations. That still would have taken courage, but they could have done it a little at a time.

The first scouts to Hawaii had to get in a boat with food and water and head out to the open sea. They couldn’t have known another island was out there. Granted, they probably started in Asia then hopped from one Polynesian island to the next. But how long would those trips have taken in a man-made and manpowered kayak?

Somebody wakes up one morning in a settlement on the shore of Asia and tells his mother, “I’m going to go see what’s out there.” He throws a few coconuts and a container, perhaps a skin of some sort, of fresh water into his boat and shoves off the shore into the breakers. He doesn’t know which direction to take to nearest land. He doesn’t know how long it will take him to get there. He can’t even be sure land is out there. He has to take enough food and water for the return trip.

Someone had to make the first trip off the continent and out to sea.

How many nonproductive expeditions like this were made before the next island in the series was bumped into?

Maybe they had large sailing vessels and a systematic approach. Still.

Kaua’i is believed to be the first Hawaiian island settled, which makes sense if the settlers were coming originally from the Asian continent. Kaua’i is the furthest west of the “Sandwich Islands” named so by Captain James Cook, after the Earl of Sandwich, when he discovered the islands from the western world in 1778. Possibly a bad day for the natives—I don’t know the political history, but when west meets natives it usually doesn’t bode well for the natives. Just saying.

Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands got there about 1200 years before Captain Cook, but then, they were closer. Still, they had to travel over 2000 miles to migrate the islands, following the stars I presume. Of course getting there might have been blind luck. Getting back home again would have been the challenge.

Ever been on a boat in the middle of the sea?

Why were they even looking for new lands? Financial gain? Power? Just for kicks?

And I haven’t even mentioned the legendary little people called the Menehune who got there first.


3 thoughts on “Kayak scouts or—who found the Hawaiian islands?”

  1. Fun perspective on the why’s and how’s of my native ancestors. Are you Hawaiian, or just an island lover? Whichever…your musings are intriguing.


    1. Thanks for reading. Just visiting Kaua’i for the first tme. Fascinating geography, lifestyle and culture (at least what I can tell from this brief exposure). Would love to hear more about your native ancestors if you care to share.

      1. I’ve quite a few posts on my blog, many of which have snippets of my life story interwoven amongst the words. You might want to visit, and see if there’s anything of interest.

        hugs and aloha…hugmamma.


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