From lush rainforests to erupting volcanoes, exploring the marvel of Hawai‘i’s natural world not only brings visitors closer to nature, but allows them to immerse themselves in Hawai‘i’s rich history. Below, visitors will find an array of recommendations for one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experiences, including volunteer opportunities, that aim to foster a new appreciation for Hawai‘i’s diverse ecosystem and form a deeper connection to the islands and its unique culture and traditions.
Waimea Canyon is a geological wonder 14 miles long, a mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep. Waimea Canyon State Park offers sights everyone will find fascinating, from a scenic main road snaking alongside the canyon featuring several overlooks, to hikes for both beginning and advanced hikers. Just beyond Waimea Canyon State Park, 4,345-acre Kōkeʻe State Park rises to more than 4,200 feet above sea level, providing mesmerizing views of emerald Kalalau Valley and the Pacific from atop the Nāpali Coast. Both parks offer more than 45 miles of hiking trails and showcase a diversity of vegetation, native plants, forest birds and more. Kōke‘e State Park is also home to Kōkeʻe Natural History Museum, an ideal place for your clients to learn more about the park, its trails and volunteer opportunities. On Kaua‘i’s south shore, National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Allerton Garden is an 80-acre paradise of landscape design combining a multitude of tropical plants and works of garden art. Allerton Garden was named one of “50 Places of a Lifetime” by National Geographic Traveler and its grounds have been featured in several blockbuster movies, including “Jurassic Park” and “Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides.”
A sacred historical and spiritual site, clients to Waimea Valley will experience Hawaiʻi’s culture, art and history in the heart of a traditional ahupuaʻa (uplands-to-sea land division). Learn the arts of lei making, lauhala weaving, poi pounding, and other practices from Hawai‘i artisans and cultural practitioners. Waimea Valley’s new Kaʻapuni o Waimea program allows clients to tour multiple valley sites, learning new perspectives on Hawaiian culture and the concept of ho‘okipa (hospitality). Lyon Arboretum is an astounding botanical garden managed by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Set on 200 acres, Lyon Arboretum is home to more than 6,000 tropical and sub-tropical plants. It features more than seven miles of hiking trails that will lead clients to a variety of themed and memorial gardens, landmarks, statues, and waterfalls. Guided and self-guided tours are available.
Located in Kīhei, the Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge is a protected wetland and sanctuary for many species that are native and endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Here, clients can observe the endangered ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt) and ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot). During the winter months, the wetlands are home to more than 30 species of waterfowl, shorebirds and migratory ducks not just from Hawaiʻi, but from as far away as Alaska, Canada, and even Asia. The Kipuka Olowalu Cultural Reserve is a 74-acre valley that seeks to preserve Native Hawaiian culture and ensure these beliefs and customs are passed down to future generations. For hundreds of years, the Olowalu Valley has been a refuge for those seeking sanctuary and protection and is home to a native ecosystem of plants, birds, fish, and mollusks. Kipuka Olowalu offers enriching volunteer opportunities for clients to mālama ‘āina (respect and care for the land), to work alongside cultural experts and conservationists, and learn about the valley’s history and unique biodiversity.
Island of Hawai‘i
The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is home to two of the most active volcanoes on Earth: Kīlauea and Maunaloa. At Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, clients can get an up close look at the new land the volcanic eruptions create on Hawaiʻi Island. The park also provides clients the opportunity to pay their respects to Pele, the goddess of fire, and to view ancient Hawaiian structures, culture, life, and landscape. There are also volunteer opportunities such as removing invasive Himalayan Ginger from park trails. Set on 20 acres of tropical rainforest, the Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden is a natural greenhouse containing over 2,000 species, representing more than 125 families and 750 genera. Clients walk along lush nature trails to see endangered tropical and subtropical plants from around the world. The nature preserve showcases waterfalls including Onomea Falls in the Garden, a three-tiered waterfall said to be the most beautiful in all of Hawai‘i.Click here to edit.