Atlantis Adventures (Navatek I)–Oahu, Maui, Hawaii
Hawaiian Paddle Sports (Maui)
Hike Maui (Maui)
Jack’s Diving Locker (Hawaii)
Pacific Islands Institute–Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Molokai
Wild Side Specialty Tours–Oahu
Hawaii Forest & Trail–Hawaii
A pilot project for eco-tourism in Hawaii, The Hawaii Ecotourism Association’s (HEA) green certification program recently awarded 14 tour companies their first-ever green certifications. Funding for the project came from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz presented the winners with a proclamation of recognition. HEA celebrated the inaugural class of Certified Ecotour Operators with an awards banquet.
Annette Kaohelaulii, one of HEA’s board of directors, says, “The requirements for this certification process are designed to cover a lot of eco-tourism principles that would set companies apart from those who are less concerned with sustainable practices.
“People might be surprised with companies like Atlantis who are very sustainable. They choose battery power over fuel power, and they care about educating their guests. When Kualoa Ranch first started out years ago, it was searching for ways to generate income. They had jet skis and helicopter rides, but they’re changing a lot these days. They’ve included grass-fed beef in their operation and bird watching tours are replacing some of the other less sustainable tours.”
Kaohelaulii, founder of Annette’s Adventures (a winner) says that she wasn’t that concerned with being certified green, and didn’t think she should even apply.
“I do bird tours for very small groups,” she says. “I drive them in my Prius to see Hawaii’s birds. I’m not an expert, but I can talk about natural history, political history and cultural history. My office is my house, and everything from my lightbulbs to my bamboo floors to the attic fans and solar panels have been chosen to make my office and home more sustainable.”
Loreen Matsushima, director of advertising and public relations for Navatek I, which is owned by Atlantis Adventures, explains how Atlantis’ cruises received their gold certification from HEA.
“The review process this year was conducted by Linda Cox, who served 27 years as a community economic development specialist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources,” says Matsushima.
“To qualify for certification,” she says, “each applicant is required to meet the minimum set of sustainability practices outlined in the program by answering a series of questions pertaining to the operations of the company. The minimum standards and practices include a sustainability plan that guides the company’s operations, principles of ecotourism, standards of recycling, environmental management and more.”
HEA is a nonprofit organization whose members include government agencies, educational institutions, environmental organizations and others.
HEA’s requirements for green certification include:
*Providing a direct, personal experience of nature for customers
* Having a written sustainability plan that guides the applicants’ operations and demonstrates commitment to HEA ecotourism principles.
* Contributing to conservation outcomes annually to statewide and/or local community-based environmental conservation initiatives.
* Contributing to the local communities in which the applicant operates.
* Demonstrating effective management in their operating principles regarding the environment.
Volunteer with Paepae O Heeia
They’re dedicated to caring for Heeia fishpond, and volunteers have the chance to tour the 88-acre fishpond and participate in service-learning projects. Listen to historic stories about the landscape, and invite friends or a social group for the ultimate pono experience.
Sierra Club Service
You know those family outings you’ll never forget? Add a day with Sierra Club to the memory bank. Service projects include hikes to remove invasive plant species and exotic weeds. Or staycation in Molokai while working and lodging on the dramatic Kalaupapa Peninsula. Learn the history of this isolated “lava leaf” and lend a hand with outdoor projects.
Kapahu Living Farm
This cultural service experience includes the chance to work in two and half acres of taro, and hikes to historic sites and through bamboo forests. And don’t miss out on the 400-foot waterfall in Haleakala National Park. Share in the experience as native Hawaiian farmers revive, restore and educate about traditional culture.
The Nature Conservancy
From March through October, the organization offers monthly hikes to the Kamakou Preserve and the Moomomi Preserve. If you’re traveling to Molokai, take part in the Weed Busters field trips while combing native forests for invasive species.
The Trust for Public Land
Volunteer at historic and cultural heritage sites, from parks and farms to unfamiliar wilderness sites. Or take a TPL vacation. Next up–a renewal trip to the Big Easy.
Hikes & Tours
Oahu Nature Tours
Started in 1995 by Michael Walther, Oahu Nature Tours specializes in small group sizes and guided eco-tours. They offer nine different tours including a Diamond Head Crater adventure and two custom birdwathcing tours. They employ more than 33 guides and donate a portion of all proceeds to local conservation projects.
Hawaii Eco-Adventure Tours
Take a 2-mile hike through the Koolau Mountain Range and travel to the Pali lookout, hidden waterfalls, rainforests and see exotic birds and plants. Package includes hiking stick and bottled water.
Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Club
This Oahu based hiking club started exploring Hawaii’s heritage in 1910. With over 80 trails on Oahu, they hike a new one every weekend. Become a member and get exclusive access to special hikes and access to the clubhouse.
This 11-acre historic camp is perfect for those hoping to renew their connection to the environment, and perhaps the extended family. Rent simple camp cottages or pitch a tent for a weekend retreat or a family reunion. Island-style cottages have single-and bunk-beds, picnic areas and barbecue grills. The pool can be rented on weekends and open fields provide endless ideas for sports entertainment.
Camp Keanae (YMCA MAUI)
These campsites and cottages are isolated yet fully refurnished and located near the Keanae Peninsula, half-way to Hana. Coed dorms are tent camping are $17 per person per night, or $35 per family tent. Cottages sleep four people and run $125 per night.
The Pipeline Lodge at Meleanas Farm
This green lodge on the North Shore of Oahu is big enough for the whole family and is situated at the top of an organic farm property. Scenic views, hiking in an 1,100-acre nature preserve, and a five minute walk to the beach. There are four bedrooms and two baths, two floors, and each floor can be rented separately. Reserve a $25 CSA basket or schedule a farm tour. Located directly across from the Banzai Pipeline’s surf mecca, bike paths run three miles along the coast.
The house is complete with solar hot water and a PV system, eco-friendly soaps and cleaners, fabrics and linens, water filters and reusable bags.
The following are members of the “Green” Hotels Association. These environmentally-friendly hotels have programs to save water and save energy. [Greenhotels.com] for more info.
Hale Akua Garden Farm
Sixteen beautiful rooms situated on a certified organic farm on the Big Island and Maui. They’re considering offering classes in permaculture and organic farming in the future. A member of the Green Hotels Association.
Setting a green standard in Waikiki, the hotel’s Planet Renew eco-programs offer dramatic comfort and style all in the spirit of wellness. A perfect staycation escape.
Aqua resorts says that while redesigning many of their Waikiki hotels, they’ll be instituting eco-friendly policies and procedures. Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki was the first of the Aqua properties to install green key switches in all of their guest rooms, and, recently, the Best Western Plus Coconut Waikiki Hotel became the second. How do they work? A guest places the key into the thermostat control, and as the guest exits, all lights are turned off and the other energy controls go into an energy-saving mode.
Two years ago, Aqua Bamboo Waikiki received a Hawaii Green Business Award, and was among nine other hotels and resorts recognized for their efforts in environmentally friendly business practices. In 2009, the Aqua Bamboo Spa saved more than 15,771 gallons of water, more than 7 cubic yards of waste from Hawaii’s landfill and 135 pounds of air pollution. And to top it off, the spa saved over 9,000 kilowatt hours of energy.
Waikiki Parc Hotel & Halekulani
Known to most of us as a chic urban living alternative, and the home of one of our favorite sushi spots–Nobu Waikiki–the Waikiki Parc Hotel recently received an Energy Star certification.
“This marks our first major step in our long-term goal to become a green hotel, says hotel manager Julie Arigo. “And it reflects our commitment to sustainability and the local and global environment.
The hotel’s 297 rooms offer guests a method for replacing conventional disposable batteries with rechargeable ones, and their spa recently shifted to waterless pedicures.
At the Parc’s sister hotel, the Halekulani, a major difference is GMO-free dining at Orchids restaurant. The non-GMO menu, started at Orchids last year, sources green-friendly whenever possible.
And according to Diane Ako, director of public relations for the Halekulani Corp., “We’ve moved away from paper bags and totes to re-usable types. We purchase sustainable and compostable take-out wares and paper products. With regards to food, we purchase GMO-free and organic for specific uses.”
Ako says they also try to minimize their deliveries to the hotels by promoting consolidation, thus saving vendors fuel costs and leaving a smaller carbon footprint. —additional reporting by Tiffany Hervey
To be considered for ENERGY STAR certification, property must fall into the top 25 percent for energy efficiency compared to other similar buildings; and must be professionally verified to meet all current indoor environment standards. ENERGY STAR certified buildings typically use 35 percent less energy than average buildings and cost 50 cents less per square foot to operate. They also have higher occupancy rates, increased asset value, and lower carbon emissions. [energystar.gov].
Hawaii Style Rentals
For $10–$20 per day, take your pick from a selection of comfortable to high-performance bikes. Rentals include DOT-approved helmets, rear packs and pouches, locks, maps and bungee cords.
This company offers four different biking tours featuring waterfalls, rainforests, valleys, cliffs, and scenic dirt roads. Tours include bikes, rubber boots and rain ponchos. You choose the destination, which also includes hiking, sailing, kayaking and snorkeling.
Green Car Hawaii
Rent by the hour or per day (also known as “carsharing”) and select from a Crayola box of hybrid cars. You’ll pay only for the time you use, and no charge on gas, electricity or mileage incurs.
Park and Plug
Drive car. Park car. Plug car. Repeat. It’s never been easier to charge up your transportation, nor has it ever been so clean. Check out Island Wise (page 23) for a map of EV charging stations on Oahu.
First Hawaiian International Auto Show
Attendees will learn more about the alternative fuel technology, how to save money at the fuel pump and the importance of promoting a clean energy environment on the island.