Malama Hawaii:
How to Care for the Hawaiian Islands

Removing invasive species, planting native trees, and discarding ocean plastic is just the start.
By Sarah Etinas

Hawaii is known for its gorgeous natural landscapes – from amazing beaches to stunning mountains. But it’s important to take care of these landscapes for them to retain their natural beauty. Luckily, there are many ways to malama – or care for – Hawaii during your visit.

Remove Invasive Plants with Travel2Change

Travel2Change offers volunteer opportunities to malama Hawaii on nearly every Hawaiian Island. You can restore bird habitats, plant taro, or support local farms. But one of the most impactful Travel2Change volunteer opportunities is the removal of invasive species with Kauai Hiking Tours. As you enjoy a guided hike of the fantastic Mahaulepu Heritage Coastal Trail, you’ll get to take in stunning ocean views, say hello to giant land tortoises, and explore Hawaii’s largest limestone cave. But, most importantly, you’ll be able to remove invasive species and help native plants thrive.

Plant Native Trees with the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative

While removing invasive plants is important, planting native ones is even more vital. The Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative is one of the few organizations on the island of Hawaii that has taken on this daunting task. Every two weeks, the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative hosts an event where you can help the Hawaii Island’s native plants thrive. You’ll collect native seeds, plant native plants, and even help to reduce the threat of wildfires.

Participate in a Beach Cleanup with the Surfrider Foundation Kauai

One of the easiest, yet most impactful ways to take care of the aina – or land – is by doing a beach cleanup. There are many charities that organize beach cleanups throughout the islands, including the Surfrider Foundation Kauai. In 2020 alone, the Surfrider Foundation Kauai cleaned up over 129,000 pounds of marine debris! If you’d like to participate in a beach cleanup hosted by the Surfrider Foundation Kauai, it’s quite simple. All you have to do is check their schedule (on their website or social media accounts), find the next beach cleanup, and show up at the designated time and location.

Protect the Whales with the Pacific Whale Foundation

When doing a beach cleanup, you can sometimes forget what you’re working towards: to create a better, healthier habitat for marine life! The Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui is sure to keep this goal at the forefront of your mind during their beach cleanups. The Pacific Whale Foundation’s primary goal is to save the world’s whales from extinction. While there are a few different facets to achieving this goal, you can help by participating in one of their beach cleanups.

Restore a Native Hawaiian Fishpond with Malama Loko Ea

Not all opportunities to malama Hawaii revolve solely around nature. Malama Loko Ea works to restore a 400-year-old native Hawaiian fishpond on Oahu, which means there are elements of nature, history, and culture. This ancient fishpond is home to many species of fish and plants, including ama ama (mullet), ulua aukea (giant trevally), makaloa (smooth flatsedge), and akia (false ohelo). By volunteering at Malama Loko Ea, you can work to ensure that this fishpond will remain a thriving habitat for years to come.


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