The canoes Hokule'a and Hikianalia were moored Monday night in waters off Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Atoll. They sighted land last night after only a little over two weeks at sea.
The crew of Hikianalia had jubilant smiles and lots of hugs just after they sighted land late Sunday.
"We could tell by the birds and some opala we seen floating in the water we were close to the island. Myself, Sachi Uchida spent the whole day on top the hale just looking at the horizon trying to see the coconut tree pop out of the ocean," said crew member Kaleo Wong.
They were looking for the coconut trees because they were the tallest thing on the islands within the Tuamotu Atoll.
Uchida and Kala Baybayan spotted land first.
"It's always awesome to see. We just traveled 2,200 miles across open ocean and then when you finally see the island, it's king of overwhelming. Uh, pride in what our ancestors were able to do long ago and what we're still doing today. Thanks to Mau Pialug passing on his knowledge to Uncle Bruce and Uncle Nainoa guys," said Wong.
They spotted the smaller island Sunday evening and then sailed west throughout the night to arrive Monday morning at Rangiroa.
The people of Rangiroa held a welcoming ceremony for the crews of the canoes.
Canoe leadership was deciding when they should leave for Papeete. They may wait until Tahiti's voyaging canoe arrives to accompany them.