People are often drawn to Hawaii by its pristine beaches, waterfalls, and other aspects of the islands’ unique and vibrant ecology. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us also heard appeals from government, Native Hawaiians, and other residents to reconsider the ways we approach travel to Hawaii.

The key, we were told by those who take care of Hawaii and call it home, is malama, a Hawaiian word that means to care for and steward.

If you’re thinking about taking advantage of Alaska Airlines’ premier Mileage Plan or no change fees by booking a trip to Hawaii, know that, even as a visitor, you can malama aina (land) to restore and preserve it for generations to come. 

Here are a few ways to enrich your next Hawaii vacation and to return the aloha you’ll no doubt feel emanating from Hawaii’s land and people:

1. Embrace the culture by learning some Olelo Hawaii.

Olelo Hawaii means Hawaiian language. By learning some common phrases common phrases, you’ll be honoring the Native Hawaiian culture and will start to gain an understanding of Hawaii’s values. You’ll also be building a relationship not just with the aina but with the people who call Hawaii home.

2. Malama aina includes caring for the ocean, too.

Wearing reef-safe sunscreen, avoiding single use plastics, picking up litter, and keeping a respectful distance from marine life are all ways to help leave the ocean in as good or better condition than you found it. Not only are approaching or touching marine animals like monk seals and sea turtles illegal, keeping your distance will keep the animals (and you) safer. It will also win you the appreciation of locals who care deeply about the animals with whom we share the islands.

3. Get your hands dirty!

When you book your trip to Hawaii on, it’s easy to give back to the islands by booking a fun and rewarding volunteer experience through travel2change. Whether it’s working in a loi kalo (taro patch) or learning from Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, these activities will make your stay more meaningful and special.

4. Stay safe! And obey posted signs.

When enjoying Hawaii’s many stunning hiking trails, stay on designated paths, keep away from edges that could lead to collapse, keep off illegal trails, and never trespass. Illegal trails are blocked off for your safety and the safety of others—and to respect local residents plagued by overparking, trespassing, and other intrusions into their neighborhoods. Heiau (temples), sacred sites, and statues are not for climbing but for respectful appreciation. Also, because of the islands’ limited medical resources, you’ll notice many local residents still wearing masks and face coverings, and that some local businesses may ask patrons to don masks, too. 

5. Drive with aloha.

Slow down—on the roads but also… everywhere! It’s not that locals don’t also have places to be, but in Hawaii, rushing can be considered pushy and rude. Instead, try driving with aloha by letting others into traffic and stopping to let pedestrians through crosswalks. And if someone extends some aloha to you on the road? Throw them a shaka to say mahalo (thank you).

Partnering with travel2change isn’t the only way that Alaska Airlines has committed to caring for Hawaii. In addition to signing Hawaii’s Pledge To Our Keiki to encourage visitors to respect and malama for Hawaii, Alaska Airlines has made significant commitments to sustainability that will impact not only Hawaii, but all of its destinations. This includes setting a goal to become the most fuel efficient airline by 2025—and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040. You’ll also notice that bottled water has been replaced by Boxed Water on every flight, saving 1.8 million pounds of plastic from ending up in the ocean each year.

Although some people may not associate the name, “Alaska,” with flying to Hawaii, Alaska Airlines is celebrating 15 years of serving the islands and investing in the local community. Alaska’s Pacific Islander Alliance employee resource group has been instrumental in spreading the idea of malama through awareness-raising events and company policies that impact Alaska’s corporate responsibility and culture.

Malama, it turns out, isn’t just something to be practiced within Hawaii, but a value and an action that can be applied anywhere in the world—and most especially in the skies.