Maui Eco Tours

By Hawaii.com Team

Hana, Maui. Photo: Stuart Claggett.

A quest for “something” beyond the obvious is fueling a growing interest in ecotourism, a genre not fully developed nor defined. But it’s clear that a sizeable number of Maui travelers are looking for ways to step off the beaten path in pursuit of adventures set in the uncut, natural environment of the island.

Guided hiking tours are a natural choice, but there are many more ways to find that “something” you’re looking for.

Go kayaking, or combine hiking and kayaking. Take a whale watch trip with knowledgeable guides. Spend a day ocean rafting off the Hana coast. One company takes adventurers into the rainforest and harnesses takers to a zipline for a flight over the trees. Another combines yoga and meditation with nature hikes. A new program, “Volunteering on Vacation,” gives visitors the opportunity to help with group and/or individual environmental projects. (For more information, call 249-8811 or 1-800-942-5311.)

Maui doesn’t lack for wilderness destinations. More than half of its land mass remains rural and uncultivated. With more than 140 ecosystems here, you can drive a half hour and go from desert scrub to lush greenery. You’ll find rain forests, volcanic craters, cloud forests, lava coastlines, mountain ridges, just waiting to be discovered.

Guided tours are available to exotic destinations like Kipahula Valley, Haleakala Crater, privately owned Maunalei Arboretum and marine reserves. Some companies offer overnighters for multi-day hiking trips, as well as off-island trips.

A good eco tour experience is more than a destination. Knowledgeable and passionate guides are a key factor. Eco tour companies generally cater to small groups and operate in out-of-the way places, away from crowds. Some tours are tailored to families, others to the adventure-seeker.

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