Cover Story continued

Fourteen Hawai‘i companies have it!

2012 Winners

Gold Group

Atlantis Adventures (Navatek I)–Oahu, Maui, Hawaii

Trilogy Excursions–Maui

Volcano Discovery–Hawaii

Silver Group

Hawaiian Paddle Sports (Maui)

Hike Maui (Maui)

Jack’s Diving Locker (Hawaii)

Kayak Kauai–Kauai

Kualao Ranch–Oahu

Pacific Islands Institute–Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, Molokai

Wild Side Specialty Tours–Oahu

Bronze Group

Annette’s Adventures–Oahu

Bike Hawaii–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.

Green Activities

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.

[], 236-6178

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.

[], 248-8974

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.

[], hikes begin at 7:45am and conclude around noon, $39.99, 690-9059

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.

$3 donation for hikes, $25 for memberships, [],

Green Lodging

Kokokahi Retreat

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.

YWCA Oahu at Kokokahi, 45-035 Kaneohe Bay Dr.,$19 per single bed per night, $230 for Hale Nanea cottage, [], e-mail [email: info], 247-2124

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.

YMCA of Maui, 13375 Hana Hwy., Kaenae, call for reservations, (808) 248-8355

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. [] 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.

Haiku, Big Island, 808-572-9300

Hotel Renew

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.

129 Paoakalani Ave., 687-7700
Waikiki’s Aqua Resorts

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

[], 821-7272

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. [].

Sustainable Transportation

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.

2556 Lemon Rd., [], 946-6733

Bike Hawaii

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.

[], 734-7301

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.

[], (877) 664-2748

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.

Hawaii Convention Center, 1801 Kalakaua Ave., Fri.–Sat., 3/30–4/1, $0–$8, [], []

Wild Side Specialty Tours

These eco-tours include continental breakfast, refreshments, snorkel gear and instruction and education. Plan to see reef turtles, spinner dolphins and Humback whales (when in season). Tori and Armin Cullins will show you the wild side of Waianae while promoting stewardship of the natural environment.

Office manager Elizabeth Hartford says that one of the more interesting components of Wild Side Specialty Tours is their “Volunteourism” program, which collects and shares valuable information about on reef and animal identification. “Usually we have someone who’s going to be here for a length of time,” she says, “someone who wants to give back to the environment by helping to collect information that goes into data banks for research organizations. We try to find out what animal life is out there, what their numbers are and how they’re faring.”

They pride themselves on their clean, green charter fleet, which uses water exhaust for minimal underwater noise impact.

Waianae Boat Harbor, 87-1286 Farrington Hwy., Waianae, Morning sail/snorkel $105 for ages 6 and up (kamaaina rate offers 15 percent discount, must sign up online); sunset sail $95, [], 306-7273

Pitching a Tent

Green lodging alternatives are found in our state and county parks. A great way to save money and keep the family entertained, many of the islands’ campgrounds offer barbecue pits, water entertainment and safe and easy-to-find campsites.

Last Friday, online reservations opened, and now people can reserve campsites two weeks ahead at [].

Polihale State Park

At the end of the road on the west side of Kauai, sand dunes and white sand beaches are a feature of this remote place.

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

Steep switchbacks and camping sites tucked among the folds of the cliffs. A favorite among Kauai state parks.

Bellows Field Beach Park

Part of a military installation, this Oahu park is gated and accessible from 6am–8pm. Located on a beautiful beach under majestic trees.

Waianapanapa State Park

Pitch a tent on this Maui campground near Hana. Grassy areas and low cliffs overlook the sea. A living tourist brochure.

‘Anini Beach Park

A perfect North Shore beach on Kauai known for swimming and snorkeling.

Hau’ula Beach Park

Need to get out of town? This rural beach on Oahu is close to a small store, but away from city lights and congestion.

Sites range in price from $3 per person on weekdays to $6 per person on weekends.

Papalaua Wayside Park

Right off the main road, this Maui park settles on a narrow strip of shoreline. Perfect for those who enjoy early morning aviation!

Kahua Kuou (Ho’omaluhia)

These campsites aren’t on the beach, but rather situated amid the picturesque Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens and the Ko’olau Range. It’s distinctive camping for those interested in flora found around the globe.

Kalaeloa Beach Park

Good surfing and, according to some, very good fishing. Quiet, remote and it’s been said that the stars shine brighter there. Located on Oahu.

Kokololio Beach Park

This Oahu beach has surf and currents that aren’t for anyone except strong swimmers. Beautiful views that demand one’s attention.

For more information, and many more campgrounds, visit: []

Yoga Oasis–A zen B&B

Down a winding country road, past stands of bamboo on an unpaved road in Puna on the Big Island, the 26-acre Yoga Oasis lives up to its name: a distraction-free circle of quiet amid rainforest and garden and of health, with vegetarian meals and yoga classes.

Certified yoga instructors Star Lindstrom and Hayward Coleman operate the bed and breakfast-cum retreat center with five hand-built freestanding dwellings and a sprawling main house. The spacious second-floor yoga room is floored with gym mats; expansive screened windows bring the outside in. The facility is solar-powered and makes use of environmentally friendly products: They even line-dry laundry. Produce is organically grown and local whenever possible. Seafood, when it’s occasionally served, comes from fishermen at a nearby bay.

Their latest projects are a 200-hour International Yoga Alliance-certified teacher-training program and a summer music-yoga camp for young people ($650 kamaaina rate for a week with classes and meals), and they often rent the entire facility to groups of about 25. But you can check in solo or duo for a mini yoga retreat, including morning yoga class and accommodations ($75-$175 a night) or the full program, including morning meditation, tea break, brunch, yoga, free time for exploring, a massage or spa treatment and dinner followed by a movie and talk story (from $200 a night with treatments extra).

[email: yogaoasishawaii]; [], 800-274-4446