“Volun-tourism” has exploded in popularity around the world, and Hawaii is no exception. For visitors interested in volunteering for a worthy cause during a Hawaii vacation, there are many opportunities. The popularity of volun-tourism is a relatively new phenomenon, although the organization International Voluntary Service was created in 1953. Hawaii Aloha Travel can connect you with respected organizations truly making a difference in Hawaii.
Hawaii vacationers will find organizations on each island that strive to preserve cultural and environmental sustainability, and others that focus on human and social services. Volunteering while on a Hawaii vacation may be the best possible way to immerse in the culture, the people, and the family concepts of ohana and the Aloha Spirit. It’s also a sure way to know that your Hawaii vacation served to preserve and protect that what makes Hawaii the paradise that it is.
There are many charitable organizations on each island that offer volunteer programs for visitors. From beach and stream cleanups to hiking trail maintenance, from replanting native species to helping with the annual humpback whale count, opportunities abound on land and in the sea. Many hotels and resorts offer volunteer programs with reputable organizations, and it’s possible to contact organizations directly to learn about upcoming volunteer projects.
Statewide, the Outdoor Circle and Sierra Club are great resources for learning about volunteer opportunities for visitors. But keep in mind that there are many dozens of worthy, non-profit organizations operating around Hawaii.
For those inclined toward ocean activities, there are regular coral reef and beach cleanups on every island. The Coral Reef Alliance has the Hawaii Hotel Reef Stewardship Project, working with dozens of hotels around the state to increase sustainability for Hawaii’s coral reefs.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for visitors on land who would like to experience and preserve Hawaii’s forests and watersheds. Because the health of Hawaii’s reefs is directly related to the health of its watersheds, this type of volunteering can have a positive effect from the mountains to the ocean. There are numerous groups committed to preserving specific ahupua’a, or watershed systems.
It can be done in a variety of ways. There are hiking trail maintenance programs at many state parks and trails that help not only to keep trails safe, but to curb erosion and stop the spread of invasive species. There are stream cleanups, which remove natural and human debris from stream beds that can lead to severe flooding. There are also programs that plant native species in watershed areas, while removing the invasive ones that threaten them.
Taking pride in getting your hands dirty for a good cause is a big part of what the Aloha Spirit is all about. Locals are quick to kokua, or help one another. Becoming a volunteer in Hawaii is a sure-fire way to make friends in a local community, and to ensure the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping preserve Hawaii’s natural beauty.