Maui, Hawaii

Malama Hawaii: Give Your Next Vacation to the Aloha State New Meaning

11 rewarding experiences on Maui and Kauai to enrich your vacation and give back

The Vacationeer
Woman wearing a flower crown and making heart hands toward the sunset in Hawaii.

Wanderlust-fueled travelers, itching to explore destinations that offer far-flung feelings and awe-inducing vistas, often look toward Hawaii — Maui and Kauai, to be exact. Named the "world's best island" for 20 consecutive years, Maui is no stranger to hosting travelers from far and wide. Kauai is also beloved, topping rankings of romantic getaways and best beaches 

However, there's a new travel style changing the way visitors experience the crown jewels of the Pacific: Malama Hawaii.  

In Hawaiian, malama means to "take care of," and malama vacations aim to combine travel with giving back. Through mindful voluntourism, visitors reduce the impact of their travels, thereby helping to sustain and protect the destination for generations to come. The result is a vacation experience synonymous with the very essence of Hawaiian culture: to strengthen the relationship between people and the aina (land). 

"We have a responsibility to maintain and regenerate the spirit of the land - everybody can participate in this if they allow the culture to survive. Otherwise, Hawaii would just be another name on the map with no meaning."

Edwin "Ed" Lindsey, renowned conservationist and former president, Maui Cultural Lands

Travelers planning a trip to Maui or Kauai can choose from various malama experiences that leave these beloved islands better than when they arrived. So check out this list and add a little Malama Hawaii to your itinerary on your next Hawaiian vacation. 

Underwater shot of a sea turtle in Hawaii.   

Malama Hawaii: Maui Edition 

Become a Honu Hero with Maui Ocean Center Beach Cleanups

For travelers seeking flexible volunteer options, Maui Ocean Center (MOC) offers beach cleanups that fit every schedule.

Through MOC’s Honu Hero Beach Cleanup Program, visitors can take a hands-on approach to protect Maui's marine environment while enjoying stunning ocean views with friends and family.

Select a beach you want to visit and dedicate as much time as you wish to be picking up plastic and waste. Any contribution makes a difference and will keep Hawaii’s beaches beautiful for future generations.

Interested visitors can pick up beach cleanup kits at MOC, which include a bucket or reusable bag for debris, a datasheet, clipboard, pencils and gloves. Kits are available for pickup between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., seven days a week.

Insider Tip: Post a picture on Instagram of your cleanup using #HonuHero to receive a Honu Hero sticker.

Have Fun, Get Dirty and Learn Lots with Maui Cultural Lands 

As a nonprofit organization, Maui Cultural Lands has a mission to stabilize, protect and restore Hawaiian cultural resources, and its success depends on volunteers. Participants begin their day at 9 a.m., enjoying a botanical walk and learning about Hawaiian medicinal plants before digging in to remove invasive species. The day wraps up with a cultural science and history walk and talk. 

Beyond giving back, volunteers can expect to reconnect their spirits by practicing Hawaiian cultural values through aina-based education.

Close up shot of yellow and white tropical flower.    

Protect Cultural and Natural Resources at Olowalu Cultural Reserve

Created by the intersection of two mountains, Līhau on the north side and Līhau ‘Ula on the south side, the Olowalu Valley historically served as a sanctuary for hundreds of years. The team at Kipuka Olowalu works hard to honor and carry on Hawaii's cultural traditions and heritage. 

Today, they've created a fun learning program for volunteers of all ages to experience the Hawaiian spirit and learn about the environment and culture of native Hawaiian land practices. In addition, visitors will participate in conservation efforts to reestablish the natural ecosystem on Maui. 

Engage Your Spiritual Connection to the Land with Hawaii Land Trust 

Hawaii Land Trust offers various volunteer opportunities on Oahu, Kauai and Maui, where visitors can volunteer at Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes & Wetland Refuge or the Nu‘u Refuge. Participants assist with restoration and conservation projects, land stewardship activities, and special events and office administration, depending on their interest or skill set. 

However, if you're willing to roll up your sleeves at the Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes & Wetland Refuge, you're in for a memorable experience. At the start of each volunteer session, the group gathers around an ahu, or altar, built to allow for the regenerative flow of energy from the sun. 

Aerial shot of Hawaii's lush shoreline meeting turquoise waters.    

Here, you'll share a moment as a group, opening conversations and sharing and setting intentions for the day ahead. ⁠In these shared moments, you can begin to understand aloha as a native Hawaiian essence. 

Get-Up-Close-and-Personal with History with Lahaina Restoration Foundation

If working indoors with access to an air conditioner is more your style, consider volunteering with the Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF). All you have to do is reserve your spot and show up (no supplies needed). Established in 1962 to preserve and protect the physical, historical and cultural legacies of Lahaina, LRF offers volunteers an opportunity to interact with history. 

The day begins with a short tour of a historic site or a presentation by a museum historian. Then, volunteers get a brief training session before working hands on — measuring, describing, photographing and transcribing artifacts and archives. 

DIY Malama with Redline Rafting

Redline Rafting's easy and convenient malama program makes doing your part on Maui a no-brainer. Just head to the designated location from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily and look for the gray trucks that say "Malama Hawaii" on the tailgate. Then, grab a reusable trash bag and trash grabber from the back of the truck, and you're ready to go. 

On this self-guided cleanup, you clean where you choose, whether it's the beach, boat ramp or street side. The goal is to fill one bag and then be on your way. 

Insider Tip: Remember to snap a selfie with your filled bag, and tag Redliner Rafting on Instagram for discounted activity tour tickets.  

Book an Excursion That Gives Back with travel2change

For many travelers, booking an organized excursion is a regular part of a vacation, but when you book through travel2change, you can have fun doing what you love while making a positive impact. There's something for every travel style with various options available on Maui, such as the Hawaiian outrigger canoe excursion.  

Two people paddling in the Pacific ocean with Hawaii's mountians in the distance.    

Head out on the water for a private and educational trip offering a deeper understanding and appreciation of conservation and how you can help. Ticket proceeds support local malama nonprofits. 

Stay: Maui Bay Villas by Hilton Grand Vacations offers a place to rest your head after a day of volunteering. Most importantly, Hilton Grand Vacations’ commitment to malama continue on Maui, just as it has on the Big Island and Oahu.

For example, we’ve made significant changes to South Kihei Road to enhance safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, including freshly paved sidewalks, crosswalks with flashing pedestrian lights, drainage improvements and new bike lanes.

Additionally, Owners and Guests can enjoy malama activities available through the resort, similar to Hilton Grand Vacations' existing Hawaii resorts. 

Take Care of Kauai

Clean Kauai’s Coasts with Surfrider Kauai

If you love walking Kauai’s beautiful beaches, why not help keep them clean for others to enjoy? This is the principle behind the Surfrider Foundation’s Kauai chapter. Surfrider is a nonprofit dedicated to cleaning and protecting Hawaii’s beaches and oceans.

A view from Kauai, Hawaii, with lush, forested mountains on the left, and crystal-blue waters to the right 

The organization regularly hosts beach cleanups and net patrols, where they pick up trash and remove discarded fishing nets before they entangle local wildlife, such as fish, turtles and coral heads. Take part in a cleanup, and discover lesser-known beaches while doing your part. Surfrider provides gloves and debris bags, so all you’ll need are some sturdy shoes, sunscreen and a smile.

Insider tip: Afterwards, treat yourself. Be sure to choose an ocean-friendly restaurant, local eateries committed to recycling, conserving water and reducing plastic and Styrofoam use.

Check out a list of supporting restaurants here, some of which may even offer a discount if you bring in reusable items, like cups and bags.

Support Native Species with Malama Huleia

If you’ve spotted red mangrove in Kauai, you’ve seen an invasive species at work. The Hule’ia River and the nearby wetlands are overgrown with red mangrove, which isn’t native to the area. Because it’s invasive, mangrove negatively impacts the ecosystem with their dense growth, endangering the habitats that many plants and birds depend on. 

Volunteer with Malama Huleia, and participate in community workdays to remove invasive plants and reintroduce native species. The nonprofit will even provide lunch. You’ll be working around marshy wetlands, so wear clothing you don’t mind getting dirty.

Spend the Dog Days of Summer at the Kauai Humane Society

Prefer furry friends to plants? Visit the Kauai Humane Society, and lend a helping hand. 2021 was their busiest year yet, as they adopted out more animals than ever while maintaining their no-kill status.

You can make a difference by helping staff clean the facilities and socializing with the animals. Play is critical to pet health as they wait for their forever home and helps humans too.

Sunset at the beach on Kauai, Hawaii 

National Tropical Botanical Garden

For volunteer opportunities people of all ages can enjoy, check out the National Tropical Botanical Garden. These botanical gardens are your one-stop shop to learn about local flora, conservation efforts and Hawaiian culture.

They also offer flexible hours and tailor positions to tourists looking to make a difference while on vacation. Depending on the garden’s needs, you may share your aloha at the Visitor Center by answering questions or tending to the extensive gardens. Either way, you’ll have an incredible opportunity to learn about the gardens, tropical plants and Hawaii’s cultural history.

Stay:After a day of experiencing malama, rest your head at Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay

Read "Add These 14 Travel Goals to Your Bucket List Today" for more ways to add deeper meaning to your next vacation. 

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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