Maui – The Perfect Place For Eco-Friendly Vacations
Valley Isle Excursions Is A Certified Hawaii Ecotourism Association Operator
Travel is becoming more than something purely based on a destination. People want to emotionally connect and learn about the environment and culture of the beautiful destination they are visiting.
Part of that emotional connection is the feeling that you’ve done right by the land and locals. In Hawaii, we call this “Keeping it Pono,” Pono meaning “do what’s right to help keep life in balance.” According to the book “Managing with Aloha”, Pono is rightness and balance. When you are Pono, you have a feeling of contentment, wherein all is good, and all is right. Pono teaches the attitude of positivity. Those who are Pono are optimistic, full of hope and life itself excites them. All they see in their future is that things can only get better. When you are Pono, the Aloha you feel is the Aloha you’ll share.
How and Why Travel Can Transform You
In the future, tourism will be more complex, more demanding and more sophisticated. Travelers will want more and for a lower price. Business innovation will be important and essential to sustaining a high quality of service and experience while preserving resources for future growth.
We want to see new cultures, sample, and experience what they have to offer. Jack Soifer, the author of the book “The Future of Tourism,” says that what we want from our vacations are changing. We can see this in things like food tourism, farm stays and volunteer travel. He lists these four things describing what most of today’s travelers want.
Today’s travelers are much more sophisticated than in any other time in history. With smartphones and the internet there is no longer such a thing as a “lost tourist”…at least that’s what most people like to think. However, until you get out into the community and venture beyond the resort and tourist areas will you experience the lifestyle of a place. It goes double for Hawaii as the lifestyle and culture are often unlike what you may have experienced elsewhere. It’s one of the reasons that “Aloha” is universally known throughout the world.
Maui has an incredible amount of natural wonders. Respecting the fragility of a limited land mass was something the ancient Hawaiians recognized from the beginning. That is why the native Hawaiian concept of “Malama the aina,” meaning “caring for the land,” is an important part of the cultural story.
A recent survey asked people near the end of life what their biggest regret is. Over 90% mentioned that they wished they had traveled more. The routine of daily life is hard to break. However, humans are a traveling species. Most religions origin stories are based on someone going into the wilderness to have a transforming revelation about life. These transformative types of stories are, in a way, what we hope to experience when we go on vacation. At the very least we hope to get away from the norm. Family and romance come up time and again as reasons we travel to exotic destinations. But there is a difference between being a tourist and being a traveler. Nowadays people want more than a crowded location packed with souvenir stores. Many of today’s travelers are looking for the ultimate souvenir, a broader perspective.
Travel becomes a story. What you learn about the destination is passed on, like a baton, to your friends and family. Will you engage and learn from a different culture or will you look for the McDonalds?
According to the UN World Travel Organization, the current number of people who traveled in 2015 was just over 1 billion. They estimate that number may double in 10 years and could increase to 4.3 billion by 2050. Imagine double the people visiting your favorite vacation destination! It will put a tremendous strain not only on the environment but the infrastructure and labor to service all this growth. The growth is fueled by wealth, access and resources which are increasing globally every year. We must be more open to caring for the places we visit so the next generation can enjoy the places we enjoy today.
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, 2.5 million visitors traveled to Maui in 2015. At Maui’s airport, 11,000 movements (all flights including helicopters, cargo, etc.) happen per month in Kahului. It’s difficult to estimate how many rental cars are in Maui, but with 2.5 million visitors annually and close to a dozen car rental companies you can imagine how many cars are on our roads at any given time. Which is why it can make a difference in how you spend your transportation dollars.
It used to be that if you were traveling to Maui, you had to rent a car. In recent years lots of carless options have developed on the island. Taxies are not cheap here, and travel distances are farther than they might seem.
Along with the Maui Bus, many tour operators have pickup and drop-off services for their tours. Boats are a good example. Whether you’re staying in South Maui (Kihei/Wailea) or West Maui (Lahaina/Kaanapali/Kapalua) there are plenty of “transportation included” tours from which to choose. Two of the big attractions that will need careful transportation planning is Haleakala Crater and the road to Hana. Tours with guides to both these locations are highly recommended even if you rent a car. Having someone else do the driving lets you relax, take in the amazing scenery and learn first hand about the area and culture from someone who lives on the island.
Another option is renting a moped. If you’re staying in a resort area or town, this might be an ok option but don’t expect to safely get from one town or side of the island to another. The trade winds can easily blow you off the road, and Maui drivers are notoriously distracted which can be dangerous. Consider your skill level with these scooters too… even if you have a motorcycle these vehicles are quite different.
The summer of 2015 saw record-breaking heat in Maui along with storms and several near misses from hurricanes that kept the rain totals high. The resulting heat and runoff are some of the contributing factors to last years record breaking totals of bleached coral heads.
Darla White, who is a Maui-based reef specialist with Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources, says visitors can help Maui’s reefs in a few critical ways.
The reefs’ compromised health underscores the importance of “reef etiquette.” Not touching or standing on coral which can kill it with or without coral bleaching. She also points out that feeding reef fish disrupts the natural ecosystem that depends on reef fish for cleaning algae growth from coral. People should also keep in mind studies showing the increasing damage to the reefs from sunscreen and repellents.
If you wish to save some money and do it yourself here are a few recipes you can mix up at home:
Essential Oil Homemade Bug Spray
Well, there you have it. Maui is an ecological wonderland filled with so much beauty and offers so much to do. Mahalo (thank you) for considering going green while on vacation. It means a lot to the people who live here, the Hawaiian culture and the future generations who will enjoy Maui years from now in the same way you can enjoy it today.
Aloha Nui Loa