• Explore Hawaii through Voluntourism: Wildlife Preservation

    June 10, 2021

    In Hawaiian culture, caring for the aina (land) is not just a responsibility for all who live on it, but an act that connects to life itself. As your clients plan their travel to the Islands, encourage them to participate in opportunities to malama (care for) Hawaii while here that will gift them with a deeper connection to our natural world. Volunteer organizations and travel partners statewide are now offering a diversity of opportunities for visitors to engage in mindful travel while in Hawaii. Read on below for opportunities on four islands to engage in experiences supporting healthy natural habitats for our unique and precious native wildlife and plant species. For more details and information, visit www.gohawaii.com/voluntourism.

    Kauai - If your clients plan to spend a part of their vacation experiencing Kauai’s verdant and vibrant forest areas, suggest they first join in on a virtual seminar hosted by the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project to learn more about the island’s native forest birds and the eco-project’s conservation efforts. Held monthly, the project’s Forest Fridays virtual series focus on the protection of the threatened native iiwi bird and three federally endangered native bird species — the puaiohiakikiki, and akekee — with a goal of facilitating recovery of their populations in the wild. Clients can also view prior series segments via the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project’s YouTube channel.

    Oahu - Suggest your clients headed to Oahu check in with community group Malama Maunalua to participate in a volunteer activity allowing them to malama aina. Volunteers will learn about ecological issues affecting Maunalua Bay and participate in removing three types of invasive algae threatening marine sanctuaries in the bay’s nearshore waters. Clients interested in an immersive, hands-on malama aina experience will want to consider a volunteer workday with eco-nonprofit Papahana Kuaola, sinking their feet into the satisfyingly muddy earth of its loi kalo (irrigated taro terraces) to do the good work of helping plant or harvest kalo, a staple crop of the Native Hawaiian diet.

    Maui - Got clients traveling to Maui? Suggest they check out the ocean conservation activities of the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation. Participants in the foundation’s Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program head out to Maui’s scenic coastline areas to collect and track debris — data the foundation records to help it mitigate and prevent shoreline and marine life damage. If your clients want to participate in the critical environmental work of removing invasive species from Maui’s protected lands, have them check out the volunteer restoration and conservation projects of the nonprofit Hawaii Land Trust, which does vital stewardship work contributing to wildlife protection efforts at the island’s Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge.

    Island of Hawaii - Island of Hawaii-bound clients looking to be surrounded by nature on their travels are invited to join in on the work of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative volunteering to help restore and replant its 275-acre lowland dry forest preserve. Activities for volunteers include building trails, tree planting, clearing invasive plant life and more, all while taking in the sights and sounds of the preserve’s tranquil landscape. Guide clients interested in mountain hiking and volunteer work to look into the workdays of Uluhao o Hualalai for a private eco-tour traversing the mature koa and ohia forests of 8,271-foot Hualalai volcano. In addition to hiking to one of the volcano’s many craters and learning about the cultural significance of the surrounding landscape, guests are also invited to participate in the group’s reforestation efforts by planting native trees.

    Important Information Regarding Travel to Hawaii
    The Hawaiian Islands want to ensure the safety of its residents and visitors from the COVID-19 virus. To do so, Hawaii continues to enforce its Safe Travels pre-travel testing program, even for fully vaccinated travelers. All travelers ages five and older will be required to present negative test results from a Trusted Testing and Travel Partner in order to bypass the State of Hawaii’s 10-day mandatory quarantine. The test needs to be taken no more than 72 hours before your flight departure time and results must be received prior to boarding. For more information, visit hawaiicovid19.com/travel and register with the State of Hawaii Safe Travels online system. While the CDC has removed its face mask recommendation for those vaccinated, please be sure to remind your clients that the Hawaiian Islands still have a mandatory mask mandate in place for all public spaces.

    Malama Hawaii
    With a hope of inspiring mindful travel while in Hawaii, almost 100 businesses and volunteer organizations across the Hawaiian Islands have partnered to create the Malama Hawaii program. Think of it as more than just an invitation to visit Hawaii, but a unique and uplifting experience inviting your clients to visit in a way that offers something back to Hawaii. A visit where they personally give the gift of their malama (“care”) to restore, perpetuate and regenerate Hawaii’s places, landscapes and natural resources through their volunteer efforts.

    Malama Hawaii volunteer projects welcoming and truly appreciating your clients desire to work with them range from reforestation and tree planting to self-directed beach cleanups, ocean-reef preservation and more. As an incentive and mahalo (thank you) for the positive impact of volunteering, multiple Malama Hawaii hotel partners are even offering complimentary additional room nights and special surprises to guests participating in qualified volunteer community-giving projects and activities.

    Click this link for a list of hotel, airline and volunteer organizations on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and the island of Hawaii offering voluntourism opportunities and special offers as part of the Malama Hawaii program.

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