The settlement and exploration of the islands that are anchored in the vast, beautiful Pacific Ocean has long been fascination of scientist around the world. The peopling of Oceania would not have been possible without watercraft capable of making such lengthy journeys.

Each island has adapted the basic design of an outrigger canoe to meet the ocean environment that confronted them. Their understanding of the environment developed into techniques and knowledge to allow them to take advantage of the rich seas that surrounded their islands.

The natives developed efficient sailing and paddling canoes capable of travel to the most remote points on the globe. Their development of non-instrument navigation (offsite-link), or way-finding, allowed them to travel the seemingly limitless Pacific Ocean and return again to their homes.

This tour will explore the basic canoe design from different island groups of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia utilizing model canoes from the Bishop Museum extensive collection of over 200 models.

A.C. Haddon and James Hornell’s book “Canoes of Oceania”, published by Bishop Museum Press has been described as the most comprehensive survey of it’s kind, and is utilized as the main reference. We have included different media forms to augment our presentation. A bibliography is provided if you have further questions. We hope you enjoy our introduction to the Canoes of Oceania.

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The State Museum of Natural and Cultural History
1525 Bernice Street
Honolulu Hawai`i 96817-2704 USA