Dirt under your nails and salt air in your hair might not be the most flattering look while on a Hawaii vacation. But it’s a look that shows you’ve dug deep into the meaning of voluntourism.

Earth Day is the perfect time of year to explore this fairly new concept of tourists volunteering their time to give back to the community. Whether it be taking part in a beach cleanup or restoring native plants, the opportunities to help are endless. In addition to that rewarding feeling you might get, some places offer discounts to tourists who donate their time.

Check out these voluntourism opportunities the next time you’re in Hawaii:


Marsh Cleanup – A roadside cleanup around Kawainui Marsh that includes lunch, entertainment and native tree planting. More info: www.waa-hawaii.org

Count Whales and Monk Seals – While it may not sound like volunteering, helping to tally Hawaiian monk seals and humpback whales can make a tremendous impact on Hawaii’s ecosystem. It lets us know how we can protect these animals further. More info: Check out these stories we wrote on whale watching and monk seal counting.


Honolua Bay Cleanup – Join the Save Honolua Coalition for a day of fun in the sun at Honolua Bay. The pristine waters are a nice treat to cool down after all that cleaning. More info: www.savehonolua.org

Fish Surveys and Beach Cleanups – Devote a day of your vacation to learning about Hawaii’s marine life and coral while cleaning up beautiful Maui beaches. More info: www.facebook.com/kaanapalimakaiwatch/info


Lydgate Park Cleanup – Cleanup the beach and playground area of Lydgate Park. Make sure to wear sun protection and gloves and to jump into the calm ocean waters right afterwards. More info: www.kamalani.org.


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