Hawaii hotels augment eco experiences

Hawaii, in large part thanks to its isolation, is home to a wealth of species found only on the archipelago or in few other places. The Aloha State has been called the “endangered species capital of the world” with more than 400 threatened and endangered species in the state according to the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.

Hawaii’s unique flora and fauna are in peril but progress is being made as former sugar and pineapple plantations are restored with native plants and trees, water management improves, and wildlife protections carry greater force. Still, much work remains to be done to preserve much of what makes Hawaii special for future generations, and the state’s resorts are pitching in with new and innovative programs that bring visitors closer to birds, flowers, marine life and other species in need of protection.

“Our passion for creating a more sustainable world stems from the desire to protect and preserve this island that we love,” said Charles Head, general manager of the Fairmont Orchid, which recently introduced a new environmentally focused package. “It’s our company-wide commitment to integrate ecofriendly offerings throughout our property.”

A handful of properties across the Islands have recently introduced new programs to get guests outdoors for special experiences that also leave them more informed about the environment and how to protect it.

The Koa Kea Hotel and Resort at Poipu Beach has combined outdoor adventure, education and relaxation with its Endangered Kauai program. The package includes a sailing excursion to the towering seaside cliffs of the Napali Coast, and a guided oceanside walk to view marine life in their natural habitat. Additionally, 5% of each Endangered Kauai booking goes to the Kauai Surfrider Foundation.

Guests of the Fairmont Orchid on Hawaii Island’s Kohala Coast can opt for the Live Pono Hawaii package, which includes a snorkeling outing to the reefs of Pauoa Bay, where sea turtles are often spotted, and a “Fun and Sun” activity pass for two for unlimited beach and water equipment rentals including snorkels, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks. Additionally, participants receive a jar of Rare Hawaiian organic honey, reef-friendly sunscreen and a water bottle, and a portion of the booking proceeds supports the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. 

On Maui, the Grand Wailea now offers a way to contribute to the native reforestation of the Valley Isle. Partnering with Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Project, the resort recently unveiled the Honua Experience. The restoration project is a coalition of public and private landowners and supporting agencies formed in 2003 with the objective of restoring native forest to more than 40,000 acres at an elevation between 3,500 and 6,500 feet. Participants ride a helicopter to the eastern slopes of Haleakala where they will get their hands dirty helping to grow Maui’s dryland forests. After putting in some work, the guests are treated to a sustainably sourced meal including wine pairings.

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