There’s a hip new way to travel these days, and it’s called voluntourism. Best described as tourism in which travelers do voluntary work to help communities or the environment in the places they are visiting, it is a trend that is quickly catching on across the globe, including in the Hawaii Islands. And while for some, the idea of “working” while on vacation is a difficult thing to wrap their minds around, for the vast majority—especially once they’ve tested it out for themselves—voluntourism becomes a remarkable and wonderful way to both see—and improve—the world.
Dive Into the Native Hawaii Community on Oahu
Once you’ve decided to give voluntourism a go, there are near endless opportunities across the islands to explore. For example, on Oahu, try diving into the thriving Native Hawaiian community by attending a work day—planting and restoring ancient loʻi kalo (taro patches) and loko iʻa (fish ponds) at any number of co-ops including Papahana Kualoa, Mahuahua ʻAi o Hoi, and Paepae of Heʻeia, among others.
Support Local Marine Life on Oahu
You can also support local marine life on Oahu by voluntouring with organizations such as the Wild Side Specialty Tours, where guests can help the crew collect marine wildlife data for their non-profit Wild Dolphin Foundation while enjoying whale watching and swimming with dolphins. Friends of Hanauma Bay also hosts periodic community clean ups that act as a great way to get involved.
Live on an Organic Farm on the Big Island
On the Big Island, traveling volunteers can live and work within an intentional organic community, such as Kalani Oceanside Retreat or Hedonisia Hawaii Sustainable Community, both of which offer visitors and guests the unreal opportunity to work, learn and embrace an organic farming and co-existing experience in Hawaii, including yoga and other educational workshops!
Help Preserve Maui’s House of the Sun
Maui’s “House of the Sun,” or Haleakalā is one of the island’s greatest attractions. Be a part of maintaining this sacred site with the Sierra Club, which works on trails like the Na Ala Hele, or aid the Native Hawaiian Plant Society in eradicating invasive species and replanting natives, ensuring there is more beauty to come back to upon your next visit to Hawaiʻi. You can also join the Pacific Whale Foundation or REEF in a beach clean-up, where you will become a valuable source of information for marine conservation.
Blaze a Trail or Clean Up a Beach on Kauai
Those cruising on Kauai can literally blaze a trail with The Sierra Club sector on this island, maintaining hiking trails at pristine Kokeʻe State Park, or spend their time helping Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter in collecting derelict fishing nets off of Kauaʻi beaches.
The Best Part of Voluntourism in Hawaii
There are so many positives to taking part in voluntourism, but perhaps the best part about volunteering in paradise is the opportunities in nature and in parts of the islands you otherwise wouldn’t get to experience, and the amazing people you may never otherwise meet.