Be An Eco-Friendly Visitor To Hawaii

By Boss Frog's
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Being a responsible and environmentally conscious visitor to Hawaii is incredibly important. Embracing eco-friendly practices not only enhances your personal satisfaction with the experience, but helps to preserve the islands for future generations of vacationers and most importantly for the people and animals who call them home. This involves veering away from the traditional tourist track and helping to forge a new norm.

Businesses that align with responsible practices will receive recognition and others will be encouraged to adopt eco-friendly visitor practices because visitors care whether or not they give a darn. By opting to be an eco-friendly visitor to Hawaii, you open yourself up to unique experiences, the chance to meet some incredible people, and the opportunity to earn respect within the local community.

Leave the beach nicer than you found it

Hawaii stands as the most isolated population center in the world, situated 2,390 miles from California and 3,850 miles from Japan. Its distinctive location has forced the islands to confront an undesirable guest: plastic debris washing up in vast quantities, sullying its waters and threatening its marine life. Positioned at the center of swirling ocean currents, just east of the Great Pacific garbage patch, Hawaii’s shoreline catches plastic from all over the world, including items that have been adrift for decades. Kamilo Beach, located on the south-eastern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island, has been dubbed one of the planet’s most plastic-polluted spots.

While you understandably may not visit the plastic littered beaches while visiting on vacation, you can still embody eco-friendly practices and help to improve all beaches by leaving them cleaner than you found them. The ‘take 3’ rule, which reminds us to pick up at least 3 pieces of trash every time we visit the beach and dispose of it properly, is a simple yet impactful way to make a positive difference.

Local water women, Sarah Hauser and Paige Alms, have made trash picking fun with their ‘Trashy Selfie Project’ which encourages Instagram users to take a selfie with their findings and share them with the hashtag #trashyselfie♻️


The Surfrider Foundation operates chapters across the 4 major Hawaiian Islands (Oahu, Kauai, Big Island and Maui) hosting monthly beach cleanups open to all. If you join a cleanup event on Maui, the first 50 eco-friendly visitor volunteers onsite will receive a complimentary t-shirt and meal.

For those inclined toward specific causes, there are numerous one-time volunteer opportunities appropriate for island visitors. You can choose to help animals , to maintain cultural sites , or restore native habitats.

Use reef safe sunscreen

One of the most remarkable aspects of Maui lies under the surface. Our reef systems and marine life are among the world’s finest and can easily be explored from shore or on a snorkel cruise. Unfortunately, our reefs have suffered from decades of exploration by visitors using sun protection. Hawaii recently became the first state to ban certain sunscreens, aiming to protect the state’s essential coral reefs. Reef-safe sunscreen is available at most convenience stores (ABC stores carries Raw Elements). We also like popular brands such as All Good (also a 1% for the planet =win/win) and Salt & Stone  for it’s easy application. Want high end reef safe products delivered to your hotel or vacation rental prior to your arrival? Check out Sun Bundles by Skin & Tonic on Maui.

Refuse single use plastics

Plastic pollution is a global concern, but we see it much more in Hawaii. The world’s garbage literally washes up on our shores, much of it in the form of microplastics, serving as a stark reminder that every piece of plastic ever manufactured still lingers in some form today. Motivated by this alarming reality along with the challenges that come with recycling on these remote islands, Hawaii became the first state to ban plastic bags in 2015. The best way to be an eco-friendly visitor and contribute to the reduction of plastic pollution is to refuse unnecessary single-use plastics while on vacation. Consider carrying a reusable water container and utensil kits, dine at Ocean Friendly Restaurants, refuse plastic straws and actively support businesses doing their part to combat this issue.

Support eco-friendly businesses

Do your research as making mindful choices with your spending is truly the most effective way to make a difference when it comes to being an environmentally conscious visitor to Hawaii. Numerous tour operators and businesses are actively working to reduce their environmental impact, to give back and to safeguard Hawaii’s natural beauty.

Give animals their space

Is encountering humpback whales, a monk seal or green sea turtle on your Hawaiian bucket list? Some of the world’s most enchanting creatures thrive in Hawaiian waters and frequent local beaches, but did you know that Hawaiian monk seals are among the most critically endangered mammals globally? Approaching these animals too closely may constitute a federal or state violation if the animal is disturbed or if your action has the potential to disrupt its natural behavioral patterns. For your safety and the animals’ protection, NOAA and DLNR recommend staying at least 10 feet (3 meters) from all sea turtles and monk seals. Additionally, Federal law mandates that no one may approach a humpback whale within 100 yards in Hawaiian waters. This requirement applies to all ocean users, including boaters, swimmers, surfers, and others, who must stay at least 100 yards from any humpback whale at all times. Play your part in keeping these animals safe by keeping a respectful distance and enjoying ocean activities with a reputable, licensed Hawaii tour operator.

Stay on the trail

Many regions contain sensitive habitats, including restorative plantings, bird nesting sites, burial grounds or cultural ruins. Some trails may run through private property. Navigating Hawaii, particularly in jungle or forested areas, can be challenging, so it’s best to stick to well-marked trails and always hike with a buddy or Hawaii hiking guide.

Appreciate the beauty

Above all, Hawaii stands as one of the most diverse and gorgeous locations on the planet. While officially part of the United States, these islands possess a magical quality that sets them apart from other destinations. Take a moment to absorb this uniqueness and realize that if we don’t all contribute to the preservation of Hawaii, the lands, the people and the special creatures who thrive here will suffer.

Together we can all make a difference and keep Hawaii no ka oi (the best). Happy travels!