The Hawaiian Islands are a paradise of sparkling oceans, sun kissed beaches and tropical rainforests, lava fields, deep canyons and enchanting sea cliffs.
These landscapes, combined with a beautiful host culture, draw holidaymakers year after year.
Ensuring the unique natural environment and Hawaiian culture are protected is paramount to the wellbeing of this popular travel destination. Visitors can do their part by choosing eco-friendly tour operators, just like the ones outlined below:
Anelakai Adventures, Island of Hawai‘i
One of the best ways to experience the Island of Hawai‘i is on a Hawaiian double-hull canoe on the sea with Anelakai Adventures.
Handcrafted by local business owner Iko, the waa (outrigger canoe) is powered by paddling, making it an eco-friendly way to explore the ocean. The operator’s guided canoe tours offer a fantastic viewing platform and offer the opportunity to snorkel with Kona’s myriad marine life, from fish and green sea turtles, to dolphins and manta rays.
But that’s not all. They’re also designed to share Hawai‘i’s rich history and culture, teach water safety and ocean awareness, and keep the Hawaiian waterman spirit alive.
Hawaiian Legacy Tours, Island of Hawai‘i
Travellers can connect with the Island of Hawai‘i and its natural environment in a meaningful way on a Hawaiian Legacy Tours tree-planting eco-excursion.
This organisation is committed to the restoration of a native koa tree forest on the slopes of Mauna Kea.
The Planter’s Tour presents a rare opportunity for tourists to help Hawai‘i with its reforestation efforts by planting a permanent Legacy Tree. Guests can sow a Legacy Tree in dedication to an individual, to memorialise a loved one, to commemorate an event, or do it just because!
Participants receive a certificate with the tree’s identification number and GPS coordinates, allowing them to visit their tree online via the TreeTracker program.
Hawaii Forest & Trail, Island of Hawai‘i
Hawaii Forest & Trail are passionate about the stewardship of Hawai‘i, and its guided eco-tours are a fantastic choice for exploring the Islands of Hawai‘i and O‘ahu.
Tour participants take a deep dive into Hawai‘i’s natural environments, discovering everything from volcanoes and craters, to tropical forests and waterfalls.
For every guest taken on tour, the company donates $1 towards the conservation of Hawai‘i’s native ecosystems, species and landscapes.
Projects it has supported include invasive species removal at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, bird count surveys at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and the restoration of a Hawaiian loi (taro patch) in Kohala.
Kailua Beach Adventures, Oah‘u
Located on Oah‘u’s stunning east coast, Kailua Beach Adventures offers beach rental equipment and eco-certified expeditions of Kailua and Lanikai beaches.
Snorkelling sets, bodyboards, stand-up paddle boards and surfboards are available to hire, and guided kayak tours are this company’s specialty.
Sustainability and low-impact operations are at the heart of Kailua Beach Adventures, with staff regularly involved in beach clean-ups, island wildlife sanctuary restoration and environmental stewardship.
It runs the Kailua Bay Learning Center to educate tourists about the land and wildlife, and hosts a marine plastics recycling station so customers can drop off what they find.
Maui Dreams Dive Company, Maui
Tourists get a front-row seat to Maui’s underwater treasures during a shore or boat dive with Maui Dreams Dive Company.
From beginners through to advanced level, there’s a guided dive, course or training program to suit every diver’s need.
This is a rare chance to see Hawai‘i’s otherwise hidden beauty, from tropical fish and coral reefs to eels and Hawaiian green sea turtles.
As stewards of the ocean, this company cares about its impact on the environment and works hard to reduce it.
Staff learn about the local ecosystem through underwater naturalist training, ongoing diver education and participation in conservation projects including the Maui Reef Fund, which helps to ensure the islands coral reefs are protected and remain healthy.
Trilogy Excursions, Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i
When it comes to ocean recreation on the islands of Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i, Trilogy Excursions is the industry leader. It was Maui’s first sailboat company, taking passengers out on spectacular snorkelling, sunset and dinner sails for almost 50 years.
During that time, Trilogy has remained steadfast in protecting the environment and perpetuating Hawaiian culture – it even has its own BlueAina conservation program.
Expeditions are crafted with this in mind. For example, when snorkelling at Molokini (the submerged caldera off Maui’s south coast), guests learn how 25 per cent of Hawai‘i’s fish are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and are shown how to minimise their impact when entering this sensitive environment.
Kauai Hiking Tours, Kaua‘i
Travellers can see the island of Kaua‘i’s less travelled and most picturesque areas with Kauai Hiking Tours. There is a range of ‘Garden Isle’ day hikes, backpacking trips and driving tours to choose from, open to explorers of all ages and fitness levels.
Tourists can tick some Hawai‘i bucket-list vistas off their to-do list on tour, from incredible views of the Napali coastline, Waimea Canyon and even Mt Waialeale.
The local tour guides are passionate about Kaua‘i’s great outdoors and love sharing their vast knowledge about this beautiful island, giving excellent environmental and cultural interpretation along the trails.
This is also the only hiking company on Kaua‘i certified as a sustainable tour operator by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association.
Skyline Eco-Adventures, Kaua‘i
Skyline Eco-Adventures was recently voted best Kaua‘i zip line tour and top activity on Kaua‘i.
Soaring around 60 metres above Kaua‘i’s landscapes on a zip line with the mountains and ocean forming a beautiful backdrop is an exhilarating way to see the natural wonders of this island. Participants can reach speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour!
Conservation is an integral part of this tour operator’s mission. Skyline Eco-Adventures works hard to reduce its environmental footprint and assist in native Hawai‘i habitat restoration.
It’s the first zip line company to become members of 1% For The Planet, a group of businesses that give one per cent of all sales to environmental preservation and local charitable non-profits.
Ashlee Galea is an Aussie living in Hawai‘i who enjoys sharing insider knowledge and travel advice on her blog www.thehawaiiadmirer.com. This article was republished with permission from Hawai‘i Tourism Oceania.