Mālama Hawaii: Sustainable Tourism


When you travel, it feels so good to move through the world sustainably, embracing regenerative tourism along the way. So when your destination offers programs to help make that even more accessible, it’s kismet. For visitors to Kaua’i and the rest of the Hawai’ian islands, a new program of giving back can guide your stay with the Mālama Hawai’i Program.

What is Mālama?

Mālama means to give back, and a sustainable stay in Hawaii can start with this virtuous cycle. By planning your trip around giving back to the communities you visit, you enrich yourself, the environment, and the spaces you inhabit. The Mālama Hawai’i Program connects industry partners and community organizations to let visitors and residents alike find opportunities to give back.

How do we benefit?

We all benefit from giving back. You benefit by cultivating care in yourself and your family. The community benefits from your positive actions, and the cycle continues. It’s the definition of a win-win. With the Mālama Hawai’i program, you can earn perks like free night stays in select hotels after completing service projects. But even if you prefer to stay in a vacation rental to feel more at home on the island, you can still use these resources to enhance your experience and embrace mālama.

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How can visitors get involved?

The Mālama Hawai’i program makes it easy to find experiences and service projects throughout the islands. You can filter by location and get connected to nonprofits, clubs, and community organizations working to amplify the good that can be done. Travel2Change is an organization that supports the Mālama Hawai’i spirit and they have a few adventures on Kauai including guided hikes with beach clean-up, cliff hikes and removing invasive species, helping at a botanical garden nursery, and touring and tasting at local farms. These experiences aren’t free, but they help local organizations and businesses, and the improve the environment at the same time.

Surfrider Beach Cleanups

With Surfrider’s Kaua’i Ocean Friendly Visitors Program, you can join in on scheduled cleanups or take their tips to be an ocean-friendly visitor on your own. That starts with minimizing your single-use plastics, packing out your waste when you visit beaches and parks, keeping your sunscreen reef-friendly, and respecting marine life.

Every Wednesday at 3:30 pm, they do a net patrol cleanup and often schedule or co-sponsor other weekly cleanups. See their website for more on how to get involved. You can also use their directory of ocean-friendly restaurants for dining more responsibly during your stay.

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Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park Cleanups

It doesn’t get more community driven than the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park cleanups. Each Saturday morning, this group of volunteers, made up of locals and visitors, gathers near the Morgan Pond lifeguard tower at 8:30 am.

What started as a passion project for the late John Lydgate, cleaning up debris from the water to make a safe swimming place, turned into a community legacy that lives on. Help out, and share stories at this special place.

Regenerative tourism is the next level in sustainable travel. When you visit new communities, don’t just minimize your impact. Play an active role as you mālama, and improve each place throughout your stay. For more ideas on how to travel with a regenerative spirit, see other ways you can give back with Starry Night Lodging.