Earth Day may be right around the corner, but sustainability is an everyday effort on the Island of Hawaii.
The island offers lots of ways for visitors to give back while on vacation in service of preserving natural resources for future generations to enjoy.
You’ll find a snapshot of accommodations, activities and initiatives focused on sustainability listed below, and details on upcoming festivals and events, as well as what’s new on Hawaii Island this spring.
Eco-tourism and sustainability efforts
Guests at Hilton Waikoloa Village are invited to admire native fauna with horticulture expert and resort director of landscaping Raymond Keenan, who has been working to replace imported plants throughout the property with native plants. Thanks to Keenan, the oceanfront hillside near the resort’s Kamuela Provision Company is now home to species like aalii, mao, pauoihiiaka, kaunaoa, and more. Keenan and his team have also been working alongside managers of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail to restore portions of it damaged by erosion and incorporate native plants along a length of the trail fronting the resort. Click here for more info.
The Malama Honu Program with Pii Laeha is an ongoing turtle conservation program at the freshly reimagined Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection. A partnership with Sea Life Park, the program’s mission is to increase the survival rate of honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) and give resort guests and the public an opportunity to learn about and observe the endangered species in the resort’s saltwater ponds. The program also encourages discussions on the importance of preserving honu, which are a key link in the marine ecosystem. Mauna Lani has hosted an annual Turtle Independence Day for the past 30 years, celebrating the release of the majestic creatures back into the wild. Click here for more info.
The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel offers guests locally sourced foods in its venues whenever possible. This lessens the amount of fossil fuels used to transport ingredients to the property by air. By including island-grown and -raised ingredients, the hotel’s Queen’s Court Restaurant, Waioli Lounge and iCafe not only support local farmers and fishermen, but provide a range of fresh flavours and dining options. Click here for more info.
Coral reefs in Hawaii are facing increasing threats from chemicals found in many popular sunscreens on the market today. These chemicals damage the coral’s DNA and larvae, contribute to coral bleaching, and affect the health of algae, fish, shellfish, sea urchins, and marine mammals. To encourage visitors and residents to use only reef-friendly sunscreen, Waikoloa Beach Resort, The Kohala Center and the Kahaluu Bay Education Center have joined forces to place educational signs at public entrances to the Kohala Coast’s Anaehoomalu Bay. Click here for more info.
Over the past three years, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has worked with a local charitable organisation to better understand the dynamics of the property’s coastal waters to ensure the resort remains a good steward of the land and ocean. For 2020, the resort is expanding the partnership, donating $1.50 per quest room, for every night the room is occupied, toward the research and protection of the island of Hawaii’s reefs and water quality. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has pledged $50,000 annually to the effort. Click here for more info.
Paradise Helicopters recently began offering an exclusive remote landing and hiking experience on the island of Hawaii’s Kohala mountains. The hour-long Kohala Remote Hike Experience is offered as part of two new Paradise Helicopters tours: the Kohala Coast and Waterfalls with Remote Hike tour, departing from Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (starting at US$475 per person);and the Doors-Off Kohala Valleys and Waterfalls with Remote Hike tour departing from Waimea-Kohala Airport (starting at US$424 per person). Guests can also add a carbon-offset upgrade to their tour through the tour company’s Carbon Offset Program. Click here for more info.
Upcoming festivals and events
The 20th annual Great Waikoloa Ukulele Festival, set for 7 March, offers attendees ukulele giveaways, a workshop by Hawaii ukulele master Roy Sakuma, ukulele lessons, informational booths, and a line-up of top ukulele musicians strumming on three stages at the Kings’ Shops and Queens’ MarketPlace. The line-up of musicians for this year’s festival includes Willie K, Mark Yamanaka, Roy Sakuma, Brittni Paiva, Kunia Galdeira with Free’n’Easy, Kalei Gamiao, Kris Fuchigami, ukulele students from Hawaii Preparatory Academy, and more. Click here for more info.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, in partnership with Parker Ranch, will hold its inaugural Whiskey Classic on 7 March from 6 pm to 9pm at its Mauna Kea North Garden. The evening will feature an evening of Southern cuisine and whiskey, live entertainment and mixologist-led opportunities for guests to learn how to craft cocktails, pair their creations with savory Southern dishes, and witness the unveiling of the hotels buried whiskey bottle which, in true Southern fashion, was buried to prevent poor weather. Admission to the event is $125 per person and includes a whiskey flight and barrel-aged cocktail samples. Proceeds from the Whiskey Classic will benefit the Mauna Kea Resort Culinary and Hospitality Scholarship. Click here for more info.
The Kona Cacao Association works with cacao growers, producers, chocolate enthusiasts, and chefs to help create a recognisable brand for chocolate from the island of Hawaii. For the past nine years, the association has also produced the Big Island Chocolate Festival, which annually brings chefs, farmers and consumers together in a single location to enjoy island chocolate. The festival also offers attendees opportunities to gain behind-the-scenes knowledge about cacao and the chocolate-making process. This year’s festival is set for 1 and 2 May at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. Click here and/or here for more info.
The third annual Hawaii Kuauli Pacific & Asia Cultural Festival is set for 15 to 17 May at the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. The three-day cultural festival showcases the cultures of the Pacific and Asia through their food, fashion, arts and crafts, and protocol, and includes hula and educational workshops. The festival’s first day will begin with a celebration, welcome and protocol for participating cultures. On the second day, guests can explore a wearable-arts fashion show, check out a designer panel featuring established and new designers, and enjoy akeiki (children’s) hula competition. On Sunday, attendees are invited to attend the festival’s Taste of Asia and Pacific culinary event featuring dishes created by local chefs utilising locally grown ingredients. Click here for more info.
The fifth annual Farm Festival at Hamakua Harvest will kick off Honokaa town’s legendary Western Week on 17 May. Attendees will enjoy a fun-filled day of food, farm and craft vendors, educational opportunities, entertainment, and keiki activities in the event garden. Hamakua Harvest’s mission is to promote and advance agriculture on the island of Hawaii’s Hamakua Coast by supporting local farmers, enriching the region’s social fabric, and promoting healthy rural lifestyles for the benefit of the coast’s communities, economy and environment. Click here for more info.
The annual Kau Coffee Festival is set for 8 to 17 May, again featuring its popular hoolaulea (celebration) at the Pahala Community Center on 16 May. The 10-day festival showcases the rural heritage district of Kau as a premium coffee-producing region and unique Hawaii visitor destination. Entering its 12th year, the Kau Coffee Festival celebrates and supports the communities of Kau and its coffee growers, roasters and merchants. Attendees are welcome to enjoy coffee tastings, farm and mill tours, a range of activities and events, arts and crafts, stargazing, delicious food, and more. Click here for more info.
Featured image: iStock/1Photodiva