Volunteer Vacation Opportunities on Maui
By Sheryl Kayne
I don’t know about you, but living in the northeast, it is too cold for me to currently think about anything other than the warm sun and hot beaches of Hawaii. All of Hawaii is great, but I’m particularly partial to Maui. Rates have never been better. Condo rentals and hotel rooms are 40-50 percent reduced from last year, and cheap flights to Hawaii are constantly available.
But there’s more to do in Maui than get your surf on. Consider a volunteering vacation. The Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 with support from the Hawaii Tourism Authority and County of Maui Office of Economic Development, offers a “Volunteering on Vacation” program. This is a way to give back to the places you visit, meet people who share your interests, and learn about the local environment and culture. Combine a trip to Hawaii with volunteer work to help restore native plants, remove invasive species, protect cultural sites, and clean up the beaches.Participants receive a free Volunteering-on-Vacation T-shirt, learn about the history of natural areas and meet local experts. This program is free and you will gain the satisfaction of having made a difference on behalf of Maui’s environment.
If you volunteer in Hosmer Grove in Haleakala National Park or any venue that charges admission for visitors, your free admission is included in the program. Each Saturday there is a project in Honokawai Valley, an area closed to the public. Learn about this archaeological site and Hawaiian culture and history, and remove invasive weeds and plant native species. On the third Sunday of the month there is a program in Haleakala National Park, led by a Pacific Whale Foundation group leader who teaches you about the wilderness area. This program includes three hours of work and a short hike and picnic.
Volunteer on Friday mornings with the Island Fish Pond Restoration project. A naturalist will talk about the coastal area and its history, birds, and some of the last sand dunes on Maui. Help maintain a new ocean side trail at Hoaloha’aina on Monday mornings, another great area for bird watching.
Join the Kanaha Beach project on Tuesday mornings, removing invasive species, clearing marine debris, and planting native species at Kanaha Park, with time for a swim.
If the ongoing group projects do not fit your schedule, you can pick up a kit and plan your own activities. The Beach Clean-up kit includes directions to a local beach, rubber gloves, trash bags, and instructions on how to dispose of litter. This is a great activity for families with children who can learn to give back to the places they visit. The most phenomenal bonus is sitting on the shore watching the whales go by, or enjoying a trip out on a whale watching boat. My bags are packed. What about yours?
More information: Protect the Environment, Maui, HI: Pacific Whale Foundation (300 Maalaea Rd., Suite 211, Wailuku, HI 96793; 1-800-WHALE-11; 808-249-8811; fax 808-243-9021; www.pacificwhale.org).
Sheryl Kayne has two new travel books out in the stores and available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble: VOLUNTEER VACATIONS ACROSS AMERICA and IMMERSION TRAVEL USA. Drop her a note to Sheryl@immersiontraveler.com if you’d like autographed stickers for your books!
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