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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 Kauaʻi is also home to Kauaʻi Coffee, a working coffee plantation. Some of Hawaiʻi’s largest botanical gardens can also be found on Kauaʻi; the National Tropical Botanical Garden has three sites here: Allerton Garden and McBryde Garden just west of Kōloa, 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 Kauaʻi’s waters on Poʻipū Beach.
Embark on a farm tour to learn about the farm-to-table processes that are such a vital part of Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine, and see Native Hawaiian plants and flowers at Honolulu Botanical Gardens’ five diverse sites on Oʻahu. From December through May, go whale watching off Oʻahu’s southern coast to greet humpback whales on their annual visit to Hawaiʻi’s warm waters.
Besides the island’s resort areas, much of Lānaʻi looks the way it did hundreds of years ago. Cook pines and what is left of pineapple fields remain in Central Lānaʻi, but there are other off-the-beaten-path spots that can transport you back in time. Visit the Kānepuʻu 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 Lānaʻi today.
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 Haleakalā and you just might meet our state bird, the endangered nēnē (Hawaiian goose), or stumble across a Haleakalā silversword, a rare and beautiful succulent that shimmers in the early light.
Take a farm tour to see how locals work the land. Visit Purdy’s Natural Macadamia Nut Farm for a fascinating tour. Hawaiʻi 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 Molokaʻi: the Mo‘omomi Preserve on the northwest coast and the Kamakou Preserve in the mountainous rainforests to the east.
Island of Hawaiʻi
There are numerous ways to learn about the local ecosystem and experience the unique beauty of the island of Hawaiʻi. At the Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaiʻi 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.
"Tip #1: Use Reef Safe sunscreen. Research has found that even a small amount of sunscreen generally has chemicals in it which can bleach the corals and kill the reef."
"Tip #2: Bring a reusable, preferably stainless steel bottle of water."
"Tip #3: Clean your shoes before and after a farm tour to prevent spreading of seeds and disease."
The Hawaiian Ecotourism Association, (founded in 1995), certifies sustainable tour companies throughout the state of Hawaiʻi to protect the environment and host culture while giving visitors an eco-friendly option for touring.More