Have you considered taking part in “voluntourism” during your Hawaii vacation?

It’s a fairly new concept that’s catching on with hotels and bed and breakfasts worldwide, allowing guests to plug into charitable projects during their vacations. Tourists volunteer their time and help make a difference in the community that’s no doubt provided rest and relaxation and memories of a lifetime for them.

Help make a difference at Kauai’s Kokee State Park.

Not only will you get that warm and fuzzy feeling for doing a good deed, but you may also get a discount. One Maui B&B offers discount on guests’ stay in exchange for their help replenishing the vanishing dryland forests of Haleakala. Hale Hookipa Inn always has some type of Hawaii vacation volunteer project going on, so that’d be a good place to start.

Beyond hotels and B&B’s, however, there are tons of local community groups seeking an extra hand or two. The Sierra Club, for instance, has a long history of protecting Hawaii’s natural resources and environment. They maintain hiking trails at Kauai’s Kokee State Park and Maui’s Haleakala National Park. For a fee, locals and visitors get to take part in the multi-day projects, which includes accommodations and meals. Unfortunately, airfare’s not part of the deal.

Some opportunities to give back may even involve getting up close and personal with Hawaii wildlife. Count whales, monitor turtles or help stand guard when Hawaiian monk seals hang out on shore. These efforts will protect animal life on land and in the ocean, so there’ll be plenty to see the next time you’re in the islands.

The best part about volunteering in paradise is that the opportunities often get you outdoors, in nature and in parts of the islands you otherwise wouldn’t get to experience. It’s also a chance to meet new people and see Hawaii as more than just a place for sipping mai tais on the beach. But as a place of precious natural beauty and resources that must be cared for and protected as well.

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