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  • Writer's pictureJuliet Weller

A Hawaiian Vacation That Gives Back

Back when I took my first Hawaiian vacation, I'd never heard of eco-tourism, sustainability in travel, or anything remotely related to maintaining, preserving or improving the environmental condition in any vacation destination. However, any frequent traveler will tell you that they have seen the toll that tourism can take - trash and waste, wear and tear on infrastructure and social elements, for example. Damage and injury from tourism aside, the passage of time, neglect, or lack of local funds can affect the very features that draw us to places. It's possible for us as visitors to play a role in maintaining, restoring, honoring and repairing these treasures.

Each of the six Hawaiian Islands’ natural beauty offers a spectacular backdrop for unique experiences. However, there is more to Hawaii than what you’ve heard about the crystal-blue waters, verdant mountains and black-sand beaches; today we’ll explore how tourists can participate in efforts to malama – care for these beautiful places and their culture.

It’s never been easier to plan a trip to Hawaii that leaves the islands in better shape than you found them. The most rewarding trip is the one that gives back. On your trip to Hawaii, take part in at least one activity from a rich assortment of opportunities to malama. Volunteer projects range from reforestation and tree planting to self-directed beach cleanups and ocean reef preservation, along with opportunities to restore ancient fishponds, protect native species habitats, or sew Hawaiian quilts for kupuna (elders). Many can be done over the course of a few hours in the morning or afternoon, at varying levels of activity effort. Booking a malama Hawaii package and participating in your hotel’s designated volunteer activity will qualify you for a special perks; you’ll have to call me to discuss, of course. Here are examples of malama vacation experiences:


Native Hawaiians developed loko ia (fishponds) more than eight centuries ago. Today, they're overgrown and even obscured by invasive species. Organizations are working to clear and restore fishponds across the islands in a renaissance of Hawaiian knowledge, culture, and pride.


To bring native richness back into an area is a wonderful way to give back to the land. Help return forests back to their original state by planting seedlings and removing non-native plants.

Sustainable Farming

Discover Hawaii's complex ecosystem and learn native traditions for sustainability. At the idyllic Papahana Kuaola sustainable farm, learn about the connection between Hawaiians and the taro plant, from which native Hawaiians are descended, according to the Legend of Haloa. You'll tend the loi (taro patches) and afterwards wash your hands off in a nearby waterfall.

Habitat Stewardship

Help protect Hawaii's fragile habitats from the mountains to the ocean. One example is the Hawaii Land Trust which has been actively restoring a 277-acre site for the past 15 years, protecting critical native wildlife habitat, leading to the return of five different endangered species, while preserving its rich archaeological and cultural resources. Help restore the heiau (temple) Kealakai Honua, dated to around the 1500s, and the surrounding village.

The natural beauty of Hawaii invites you to explore, rejuvenate, and reconnect. Helping preserve the beauty of this remarkable place will create lasting memories that will stay with you long after you return home. For the most enriching experience in Hawaii, join efforts to malama (care for) this truly special place and unique culture by preserving the islands’ oceans, its land, and its people.

'til next week.


Did you miss any of my articles? They are all here.

Contact: GLOBAL EXOTIC ADVENTURES - Juliet Weller, Founder

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