Kelly Slater, John Florence celebrate the return of the Hokulea

On Saturday, after three years on the open ocean sailing the world using only ancient Polynesian navigational techniques for direction, the Hokulea — a full-scale replica of the traditional double-hulled Polynesian touring canoes known as wa’a kauluas — returned home to port in Honolulu to a hero’s welcome.

The vessel set sail in 2014 with the stated purpose of helping to spread Hawaiian culture around the world and to “join and grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world.”

Per the Huffington Post, during its three-year journey, the Hokulea and her crew traveled more than 40,000 nautical miles and visited 150 ports in 23 countries.

The Hokulea’s return inspired a plethora of celebratory social media posts by followers of the ship’s voyage across the world.

Much support came from the surfing world, with legend Kelly Slater, reigning World Surf League world champion John Florence and others showing their appreciation on Instagram for the momentous occasion.

Reposting this one since I added the wrong pic in last post rushing between flights…!!! So once again…Congratulations to the crew of #Hokulea on a 3 year circumnavigation of the globe and safe return home to Oahu. #EddieAikau tragically lost his life trying to save the rest of the crew after Hokulea capsized in stormy seas just after setting sail to Tahiti from Hawai'i in 1978. (CNN) 'Hokulea, a traditional Polynesian deep-sea canoe, on its return to Hawaii after a three-year global voyage. Thousands of people were on hand Saturday on the island of Oahu to greet the vessel, which navigated the world's seas relying mostly on the sun and stars, ocean waves and cloud movement. The Hokulea and its sister ship, #Hikianalia, covered a combined 60,000 nautical miles, over 150 ports, and 23 countries and territories, the Polynesian Voyaging Society website reported. It's mission: to showcase traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration and sustainability. The double-hulled sailing canoe is a performance replica of the canoes early Polynesians likely used 3,000 years ago to discover all of Polynesia.'

A post shared by Kelly Slater (@kellyslater) on

There she is ! #ThePrideOfHawaii Welcome home beautiful ! #Hokulea @hokuleawwv #HawaiiansUnite

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According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Hokulea was originally built in the 1970s as a means of reviving interest in traditional Polynesian methods of navigation, which rely on the sun, stars and cloud movement for guidance.

Per the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s website, at the time of its initial voyage, there were no Polynesian navigators left in the world, so the Hokulea had to bring on Mau Piailug, a navigator from a small island called Satawal, in Micronesia, to help guide the Hokulea from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976.

“Without [Piailug], our voyaging would never have taken place,” the Hokulea’s website states. “Mau was the only traditional navigator who was willing and able to reach beyond his culture to ours.”

Tragedy struck the Hokulea in 1978 when it set out for Tahiti again. This time, the boat capsized during a storm off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Molokai. In an effort to swim for help, Eddie Aikau — a legendary Hawaiian waterman — attempted to paddle to shore. The rest of the crew was rescued, but Aikau was never seen again.

This most recent journey, however, was far more joyous. And, fittingly, when the Hokulea was preparing to come into port on Saturday, it was greeted by a rainbow.

Read more about the Hokulea

Hawaiian Hokulea canoe reaches halfway point in global circumnavigation

Street artist paints massive mural to welcome home Hokulea