Eco-Tourism

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Discover Hawaii's Roots

All of the Hawaiian Islands have complex and fragile ecosystems that are easily affected by outside influences. This is partly why Hawaii has the highest number of endangered and threatened native plant and animal species of any place on the planet. An important value for native Hawaiians and Hawaii locals is the idea of malama aina or to care for the land. There are many ways visitors can learn about the native traditions used to work the land—and help locals keep Hawaii more sustainable for generations to come. For travelers interested in eco-tourism experiences, there are a variety of farm and agricultural tours, botanical gardens and more that showcase the islands’ unique environments. 

Kauai
Take a farm tour in the beautiful, green Hanalei taro fields to see how kalo (taro), an important Hawaiian root starch, is cultivated. The South Shore of Kauai is also home to Kauai Coffee, a working coffee plantation. Some of Hawaii’s largest botanical gardens can also be found on Kauai; the National Tropical Botanical Garden has three sites here: Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden just west of Koloa, and Limahuli Garden on the North Shore. You can also opt for a whale-watching tour (December–May), or spot some of the 1,200 endangered Hawaiian monk seals swimming in Kauai’s waters on Poipu Beach. 

Oahu
Embark on a farm tour to learn about the farm-to-table processes that are such a vital part of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, and see Native Hawaiian plants and flowers at Honolulu Botanical Gardens’ five diverse sites on Oahu. From December through May, go whale watching off Oahu’s southern coast to greet humpback whales on their annual visit to Hawaii’s warm waters.

Lanai
Besides the island’s resort areas, much of Lanai looks the way it did hundreds of years ago. Cook pines and what is left of pineapple fields remain in Central Lanai, but there are other off-the-beaten-path spots that can transport you back in time. Visit the Kanepuu Preserve for a self-guided tour featuring 48 species of endemic Hawaiian plants. Protected by the Nature Conservancy, learn how this fragile ecosystem continues to survive in Lanai today.

Maui 
Take a drive to Upcountry Maui and stroll among fields of sweet lavender and vibrant protea in Kula. Or walk back in time through gardens of indigenous plants at the Kula Botanical Garden. Continue to the 30,000-foot summit of Haleakala and you just might meet our state bird, the endangered nene (Hawaiian goose), or stumble across a Haleakala silversword, a rare and beautiful succulent that shimmers in the early light. 

Molokai
Take a farm tour to see how locals work the land. Visit Purdy’s Natural Macadamia Nut Farm for a fascinating tour. Hawaii is the world’s leading producer of macadamia nuts. Or, to really see environmental preservation in action at the Nature Conservancy’s two sites on Molokai: the Moomomi Preserve on the northwest coast and the Kamakou Preserve in the mountainous rainforests to the east.  

Island of Hawaii
There are numerous ways to learn about the local ecosystem and experience the unique beauty of the island of Hawaii. At the Hawaii Wildlife Center's Hoopulauma Science and Discovery Center you can learn about efforts to protect and rehabilitate native bird species and other wildlife. At the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority campus there are a variety of tours focused on renewable energy, sustainability and emerging technology offered by the Friends of NELHA group. Or, help restore native flora on a tree planting tour with Hawaiian Legacy Tours, where you can help plant a Koa tree as part of the excursion. 

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Farm and Agriculture Tours

Discover the agricultural cornucopia growing in Hawaii's rich, volcanic soil.

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Farmers Markets

You can’t travel far in Hawaii without passing a farmers market or fruit stand. Beyond a rainbow of fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables, you’ll often find Hawaii-grown coffee, local jams, macadamia nuts and even pop-up stands from trendy restaurants.

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Eco-Tourism Experiences in Hawaii

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Grinding cacao beans into chocolate
Kauai
Garden Island Chocolate
5-2719 Kuhio Highway
Kilauea, HI 96754
Summary

Garden Island Chocolate is the premier gourmet Hawaiian chocolate company. We make organic dark chocolate bars,(85% cacao) chocolate truffles and a hot chocolate drink. We have guided chocolate farm tours and tastings every Mon, Wed, & Friday at 9:30am. The tours are very popular so book in advance.

Websites
HO'OMAU RANCH home page
Hawaii
Ho'omau Ranch
89-1074 Old Mamalahoa Highway
Captain Cook, HI 96704-9998
Summary

HO'OMAU RANCH horseback riding, ATV UTV Tours. Ranch Stay and camping. Rare endemic, critically endangered tree species Loulu Palm Pritchardia schattaueri & Mehamehame. Hawaiian hoary bat, Mesic forest. Bird watch for endangered 'io, endemic 'apapane, 'elepaio and Pueo. Cattle pastures Agritourism!

Websites
Happy brother and sister
Maui
Open Eye Tours & Photos
Summary

Enjoy your favorite day in Paradise with a one-of-a-kind Custom Private Guided Tour of Maui's highlights & best-kept secrets! See sights not in guide books, where buses can't go, & more popular areas, with or w/o walking. Hawaiian Culture, history, nature, food, music. Service with aloha since 1983!

Websites
Gift Shop
Hawaii
Akatsuka Orchid Gardens
11-3051 Volcano Road
Volcano, HI 96785
Summary

Explore the Big Islands largest collection of Orchids. Over 1,000 on display in our Orchid Maze & for purchase. Join a behind the scenes Orchid Farm Tour and Tasting. Plant and take home your own baby orchid and leave room for dessert as you sample our Poha Ice Cream and shop our unique giftshop!

Websites
Rooster Farms Image
Hawaii
Rooster Farms
84-1245 Bruner Road
PO Box 370 Captain Cook, HI 96704
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Summary

Rooster Farms is the Oldest Organic Farm in Hawaii and has won prestigious cupping contests. Come visit our agroforest with Ed Chen, a Columbia educated Environmental Engineer for a farm tour, agricultural education, and Tara Cronin, a exhibited photographer on big island to learn about Kona coffee!

Websites
Farmstand
Maui
Hana Ranch
5670 Hana Highway
Hana, HI 96713
Summary

Our work at Hāna Ranch is rooted in the values of land stewardship, collaboration, and community. We believe that by caring for the land, we can deliver the best produce to our customers and strengthen the foundation of our community.

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Learn More About How to Take Care of the Land During Your Visit

Read More About Malama Aina

Find Eco-Friendly Tour Operators and More

The Hawaiian Ecotourism Association, (founded in 1995), certifies sustainable tour companies throughout the state of Hawaii to protect the environment and host culture while giving visitors an eco-friendly option for touring.

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