The first navigators to reach these islands were led here by starlight. They sailed the waters of the world’s largest ocean with the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain as their companions and the heavens as their guide. They made landfall on the wide-open coastline of Ka‘ū on the southern tip of Hawai‘i Island, and then they moved out into the astonishing lands that would become their home. They found sister peaks, one of them, Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world. To the east the land was lush, filled with trees and ferns, rivers and waterfalls; and to the west it was hot and dry and offshore ocean waters teemed with fish. Across the channel another volcano rose ten thousand feet out of the sea, anchoring Maui; it became Haleakalā, the house of the sun.
As the explorers traveled through the archipelago, they found island after island, each with its own complex soul but all of them rich and generous. Every island offered the newcomers fertile soil and fresh water. These were the children of Papa and Wākea, Father Sky and Mother Earth. They gave their aloha to the people—and with reverence and gratitude the people gave their aloha to them.