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. 

More Eco-Tourism

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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Maui waterfall
Maui
Maui Hiking Safaris
26 Makani Road
Makawao, HI 96768
Summary

Affordable guided half and full-day hikes. The hikes range from easy to strenuous. Localities include rain forests, waterfalls, valleys and mountain. A narrative on Hawaiian history, volcanology and flora is given. Day packs, water and meal provided. VOTED EXCELLENT ON TRIPADVISOR FOR 2017 !

Websites
Lawai Stream in McBryde Garden
Kauai
McBryde Garden
4425 Lawai Rd
Koloa, HI 96756
Summary

McBryde Garden is a veritable Noah's ark for threatened and endangered plants of the tropics. Located in the verdant Lawa`i Valley. Self-guided tours available daily. Tram into garden. Other tours available.

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
Plantation View
Hawaii
Kona Lisa Coffee
83-5475 Painted Church Rd
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Summary

Kona Lisa is 100% Kona, Estate coffee. We hand pick, sun-dry, custom roast for a remarkably smooth cup. Stop by the farm, or visit us at the Kona Lisa Coffee & Tea Bar at neighboring Paleaku Gardens! Enjoy a cup of Kona Lisa while strolling through the scenic Peace Gardens in the heart of Kona!

Websites
Ultimate Circle tour
Oahu
Oahu Nature Tours
1649 Kalakaua Ave. #201
Honolulu, HI 96826
Summary

Join Oahu's original eco-tour company for a fun and educational hiking or sightseeing adventure. Spectacular scenery, excellent photographic opportunities, and information about the geology, archaeology, mythology and history of Hawaii await you on our half-day and full-day adventures.

Websites
Pineapple Field
Maui
Maui Pineapple Tours
883 Haliimaile Road
Check-in at Haliimaile Distilling Company
Haliimaile, HI 96768
Summary

Sample Maui's sweetest fruit Maui Gold while our knowledgeable tour guide shares entertaining facts and history about Hawaii's Pineapple- Visit Pineapple fields, Tour Maui Gold, Pineapple Packing Factory, and bring home free pineapple.

Websites
Gift Shop interior
Kauai
Anaina Hou Community Park
5-2723 Kuhio Highway
Kilauea, HI 96754
Summary

Anaina Hou is a nonprofit gathering place on the North Shore of Kauai. We are pleased to offer Mini Golf & Gardens, a beautiful Food Court and Gift Store, hiking the Wai Koa Loop Trail to the historic Stone Dam, weekly Farmer’s Markets, a Playground and Skate Ramps, Kilauea Night Market and more.

Websites

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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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