Cover Story

Don’t Forget to Pack Your Brain

The Weekly’s 2012 Green Travel guide hopes to inspire eco-friendly staycations

Green travel isn’t just about where you’re going or how you’ll get there. It’s about place and people and an assessment of the impact of your visit. The myth is that green travel appeals only to the socially responsible and the politically engaged. Eco-tourism and green travel appeal to those who care about the natural world, and that doesn’t take environmental activism, it just takes a brain.

What does green travel really mean? At worst, it’s a cruise line claiming to be green while peddling mass tourism and leaving behind huge carbon footprints and waste. There are the hotels that call themselves green simply because they offer not to change their guests’ towels each day.

In this issue, we take a look at some companies that have demonstrated real commitment toward greening our islands’ tourism industry. The goal is to help you choose staycations that not only leave behind a minimum of ecological damage, but invest in preservation. Bon voyage!


Kualoa Ranch

Saving open space while sustaining a business

In November 2011, when Michelle Obama (you know, wife of Barry, Punahou ’79?), hosted a local farm-fresh meal at Kualoa Ranch for the spouses of APEC delegates, CEO and President John Morgan was happy, of course, for the national and international attention. “But for us, a major measure of success is when local people choose to bring their family and friends from the mainland here,” says the missionary and Maori descendant who launched a recreational tourism and movie location business in 1985 in an effort to save his family’s 4,000 Kaa‘awa acres from development.

“We were what you call land poor,” says Morgan, who convinced family members not to sell. “For us, the key to financial sustainability was environmental preservation.” Last year, the ranch received silver rating in the first Hawaii Ecotourism Association awards, but “We’re not strictly ecological,” Morgan admits. “The greenest part of what we’re doing is trying to preserve this beautiful gem of a spot.” That includes, incidentally, a historic fishpond growing some plump oysters that are ready for the market as soon as the state can certify them.

49-560 Kamehameha Hwy., [kualoa.com], 237-8515