Malama Aina

Caring for the Land

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How Can You Help Care for the Land?

There are many ways that visitors to the islands can help protect Hawaii’s fragile eco-system. 

Protect reef life

Coral reefs are complex living communities, so please don’t touch or stand on the coral or the animals and plants surrounding them. Green sea turtles are an endangered species; touching them is against federal law. Dolphins may appear to be smiling, but they are wild and capable of harming aggressive animals, including you. With all sea creatures, keep a respectful distance — for their safety and yours. You should also find reef-safe sunscreen to help keep Hawaii's waters free of harsh chemicals that can bleach coral. 

Tag and release sport fishing

Many charter boat captains tag and release their catches to preserve our fishing grounds. Similarly, there are seasons and catch limits for tropical and near-shore fish species, while endangered species like the green sea turtle are carefully protected.

Turn out the lights

To avoid confusing endangered sea turtles and birds, we have a law that limits artificial lighting along our shorelines.

Tread lightly

Generally stay on trails and be careful not to trample plants or disturb historical features. If you bring something on a hike, take it with you, leaving the land as pristine as you found it.

Take only pictures

Please resist the temptation to take rocks, shells or plants as souvenirs. Show your respect for the land by leaving it intact.

Go with a guide

Consider taking organized excursions. We have some great adventure companies that are especially sensitive to our fragile environment. They’ll show you the best spots while interpreting the area’s human history, volcanic geology, plants and animals.


Many visitor accommodations in the Hawaiian Islands provide ways to recycle plastic, glass, paper and other waste. Please use them!

Be an Eco-Adventure Volunteer

A great way to have fun and do good while exploring the Hawaii’s wild places is to volunteer for conservation work, such as trail building and maintenance, planting native plants, controlling invasive species or clearing coastlines of marine debris. Agencies that offer opportunities include Hawaii Forest & Trail, The Volcano Art Center, Nature Conservatory of Hawaii and Sierra Club.