ST. JOHN, US VIRGIN ISLANDS (HawaiiNewsNow) - US The Hokulea arrived at Cruz Bay in St. John, US Virgin Islands on Sunday at 11 a.m. (5 a.m. HST), marking the canoe's first landing in a US territory since its visit to Pago Pago in American Samoa in October 2014.
"The US Virgin Islands is similar to Hawai'i, with its rich history and tropical climate," said Kalepa Baybayan, captain and Pwo navigator. "Also, much like our home, their economy is significantly driven by tourism and agriculture. We're looking to engage with the residents to exchange ideas of Malama Honua, of preservation and cultivation of precious resources."
While in St. John, the crew of Hokule'a plans to engage with the local community by participating in outreach opportunities with the Virgin Islands National Park and the Coral Reef National Monument. The crew members also plan to collaborate with other groups and organizations such as local schools like Sprauve, Gifft Hill, and St. John Christian Academy.
The crew also plans to learn more about the envronmental efforts taking place in the Caribbean.
The leg from Brazil to the USVI is a homecoming for Polynesian Voyaging Society Chief Operating Officer and crewmember Heidi Guth, who was born on Maui but raised in the US Virgin Islands.
"Being able to connect two of my homes and families by having Hokule'a visit St. John during the Centennial of the National Park Service and the 60th Anniversary of the Virgin Islands National Park is an unbelievable dream," said Guth. "I'm also excited about the opportunity to share and exchange ideas on caring for each of our coastal homes, our oceans and ourg Island Earth. We have a common interest in natural and cultural perpetuation," she added.
After the US Virgin Islands, the Hokulea will continue to several ports in the Caribbean before sailing north nad visiting cities along the East Coast of the US. They are scheduled to arrive in New York City by June 8 to be part of the United Nations' World Oceans Day.