When it comes to ecotourism, Hawaii’s idyllic beaches, hiking trails, waterfalls and surrounding coral reef, make islands a nature lover’s dream. Add to this the Aloha spirit and the islands are the perfect choice for an eco-minded tourist. Read on to find out more about Hawaii’s ecotourism efforts and how you can contribute to this.
Ecotourism in Hawaii
With the threat of global warming and climate change hanging over our heads, ecotourism is becoming a growing trend. With this trend, travelers minimize their environmental impact, while respecting local culture. Moreover, tourists can contribute to the sustainability efforts of their destination.
Meanwhile, Hawaii has two guiding principles: “Malama ka’aina” meaning care for the land, and “Malama ke kai,” which means care for the ocean.
Those living in Hawaii believe they are one with all that surrounds them. Moreover, they believe that if they respect and care for the land, it will care for them. For this reason, conservation efforts have become a way of life in the islands since the first settlers arrived.
The islands host more endangered animal and plant species than anywhere else in the world. Conserving and protecting these species while sustaining the environment will minimalize the impact of the tourism industry. Bearing this in mind, the following are five reasons for an ecotourism break in sunny Hawaii, including fun activities on the islands and in the surrounding ocean.
1. Hike in Hakalau Forest Wildlife Nature Reserve
The Hakalau Forest Wildlife Nature Reserve was first established in 1985. Its aim was to conserve bird species facing extinction. Among these are the Hammerhead (aki pola’au), the Hawaiian hawk and the Hawaiian Creeper (‘akepa).
Since that time a number of wildlife and habitat management programs came into being to preserve the ecosystem. In the process, it was hoped to reverse population decline. Meanwhile, the nature reserve runs under a public access program, allowing hikers to explore the forest. When visiting the reserve, remember to leave only footprints and take only photographs.
2. Snorkeling the Molokini Crater
Molokini Crater forms part of Hawaii’s Marine Life Conservation District and is thought to be one of the top ten diving spots around the globe. Here, snorkelers can spot more than 250 marine species and 30 varieties of coral in and around the crater.
Due to its crescent shape, the crater is sheltered, with little sediment to spoil the view. In fact, the water is so crystal clear that in the early morning, visitors can see as far down as 150 feet in the water.
3. Hike the trails at Volcanoes National Park
For a truly spectacular experience, Volcanoes National Park is one of Hawaii’s top attractions. Meanwhile, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where two of Hawaii’s three active volcanoes are located.
What makes it even better is that trails through the park take hikers through a variety of terrains. Here, you can experience everything from stark deserts to lush rainforests, while taking in the waterfalls and the island’s famous black-sand beaches. A once-off fee pays for multiple visits to the national park and gives access to the visitor education center and the park’s museum. Naturally, the fee also goes towards protecting Hawaii’s remarkable eco-system.
4. Ziplining in Hawaii
One way to see Hawaii is from above, while ziplining the islands’ amazing canopies. In fact, the sport is one of the fastest-growing ecotourism activities around the globe. Experienced guides will securely strap you into your harness before you take off on your adventure above the beautiful scenery.
While ziplining is available on all the islands, Kauai is said to be the best for its gorgeous views. Apparently, ziplining companies that operate here can also offer other ecotourism-friendly activities in the same package.
5. Head beneath the waves in a submarine
For those seeking a true ecotourism adventure, Atlantis Submarines will take you for a dive into Mother Nature’s aquarium. The option is available in Maui, Kona and Waikiki and in each location, you will gaze at the colorful coral reef, abandoned shipwrecks and schools of colorful fish.
In keeping with ecotourism standards, Atlantis submarines are battery-powered and emit no pollution into Hawaii’s marine ecosystem. If you take a special package, after your dive into the depths, you can climb aboard to witness the rare sighting of humpback whales as they breed, calve and nurse their young.
Experience a true ecotourism adventure on a visit to the beautiful islands of Hawaii this year. While you will have a remarkable vacation, you will also aid the islands in their efforts to protect and preserve the delicate ecosystem. You will not regret your choice of destination.