Travel to Hawaii has been complicated for the past two years as the 50th US state has implemented strict measures to mitigate the potentially catastrophic impact of the pandemic – it is, after all, the most isolated populated landmass in the world.

But now that this Pacific paradise is easing restrictions for mainland travelers, and the state government is scrapping its mask mandate later this month, there’s never been a better time to visit.

But just as many of us have emerged from the past few years changed – hopefully – for the better, the Hawaiian tourism industry has shifted its approach toward more culturally and environmentally sustainable projects and adventures with l Malama Hawaii initiative.

Malama means to honor and protect in the Hawaiian language, Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, and the primary goal of the program is to give back. The range of activities on offer allows visitors to engage more deeply with and understand Hawaiian culture, while preserving its natural environment, essentially working to counteract the inevitable erosion caused by tourism.

Embarking on a Malama-oriented itinerary not only supports local communities, a much-needed priority that should be implemented globally, but also enriches the entire journey from a traveler’s perspective.

The most rewarding journey is one where you feel that your destination has changed you and that you have somehow contributed to the beauty and magic of the place you have visited.

If Hawaii is America’s Eden, then the Malama program offers travelers the opportunity to experience another side of paradise, to paraphrase the eternally relevant F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it’s a trip well worth taking. to be explored.

It’s not just sunsets and mai tais in Hawaii, though both can be enjoyed in delight at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea, one of the most beautiful areas on the island.

Head to the Wailea Village Farmer’s Market on a Tuesday morning and visit Maui’s self-proclaimed “Puka King,” Captain Pat McLane, who is determined to bring back the 1970s, one puka shell necklace at a time, all d local origin. at Malaka beach.

In the village, a stop at the Sabado Art Gallery & Boutique is a must to browse the paintings of Molokai native Philip Sabado, who captures the essence of Hawaiian heritage and culture in his works.

“To be an artist is to be able to take oral tradition and put it into paint; my vision is to share the stories that have been told to us,” says Sabado. “The gallery aims to perpetuate – as closely as possible – the truth of Hawaiian culture.”

Besides the cultural history, there is also the rich natural heritage and marine wildlife to experience on Maui, especially during the early months of the year. “It’s like whale soup there,” a resident of the surrounding Pacific Ocean told me.

Go on a whale-watching expedition with PacWhale EcoAdventures, which works in conjunction with the Pacific Whale Foundation to promote sustainable ocean practices — and, to double your karma points, take part in a beach cleanup afterwards.

Travelers can also mix Malama with fun by booking an afternoon outing with Skyline Eco Adventure Tours, where guests plant native trees before ziplining through the forest.

Next up is a trip to the beautiful island of Lana’i, which is much less crowded and much more relaxed than the shores of Maui. Of course, everywhere in Hawaii there is a more laid-back Jack Johnson vibe than anywhere else in the world. The musician is originally from Oahu, after all.

Four Seasons Lana’i is as close to heaven on earth as it gets, and there’s no way to overstate the chic or luxury of this paradise in the Pacific. A visit to the Lana’i Cat Sanctuary is a must, as is a trip to town to explore local shops and an outing with Pulama Lana’i, a sustainability project that restores the island’s native flora and fauna.

Finally, a note on correct pronunciation: All Hawaiian island names rhyme, or obliquely rhyme, with the state name.

So it’s pronounced Lanai—ee, or Molokai—ee. In the Hawaiian language, Ōlelo Hawaiʻi, a “lanai” is a back porch. Hence the local’s response: “Lana’i isn’t Maui’s back porch.” Note.

To learn more, visit the Lana’i Culture and Heritage Center or follow their Instagram to learn more about the island’s history.

The state is believed to be named after Hawai’iloa, a Polynesian explorer who discovered the archipelago and named the largest island after himself, the “Big Island” or Island of Hawaii, and the remains after his children.

Of course, the exact details of mankind’s arrival in Hawaii remain hotly contested, as Lana’i ecologist Jonathan Sprague notes, “The oral tradition has a lot of flavor.”

Travel to Moloka’i to experience the third island of Maui Nui, the ancient Hawaiian landmass that encompasses Kahoolawe, Lana’i, Moloka’i, and Maui. These islands were once connected, but separated in their final formation by a glacier that melted 18,000 years ago.

Today, each island carries a very distinct identity, both culturally, aesthetically and spiritually. Each island has its own personality, and when you’ve crossed the entire continent and the other half of the Pacific to arrive in Hawaii, why settle for just one island?

More is, as they say, more. Inter-island flights are operated by Mokulele Airlines and we suggest visiting Maui, Lana’i and Moloka’i during your Hawaiian vacation.

A visit to Kahoolawe is impossible, as the smallest of Hawaii’s eight islands is a former bomb site and uninhabitable for locals and visitors alike.

Moloka’i is the least developed of the Hawaiian Islands, and both the town and the island’s only hotel, Hotel Molokai, have a charming quirkiness to them. While the other five islands have all adapted in different ways to the influx of crowds and tourists, Moloka’i has remained resolute in retaining its original character.

Moloka’i is happy to stay under the radar, and when they have visitors, they want travelers, not tourists. So be respectful. Be aware of your cultural and environmental footprint.

Tourism isn’t Moloka’i’s main industry, and it’s the former home of many of its current residents, so it’s even more essential to show respect when visiting the spectacular sites.

Book a kayak tour with Moloka’i Outdoors and spend a day volunteering with the Moloka’i Land Trust, an organization dedicated to restoring the island’s native plants and wildlife.

If you restore the island’s natural habitat, its natural residents will return, though the effects of colonization are apparent in the island’s feral cat population.

Josiah Ching is dedicated to restoring Hawaiian seabirds to their ancestral habitat, and the work is culturally and environmentally significant: “It is a microcosm of the struggle of the disenfranchised, evicted Hawaiian people; it’s very real.

Moloka’i Land Trust encompasses nearly 2,000 acres of unspoilt land, with some of the best views in the Hawaiian Islands. Visitors can and should volunteer for a day to help support the local effort and learn more about Molokai’s unique cultural heritage.

Finally, attend a Malama Monday program at the former fish ponds of Ka Honua Momona, a non-profit organization that preserves the island’s ecosystem and maintains traditional knowledge. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to “talk history,” a Hawaiian term for sharing ideas, history, and opinions. “Alumni are our library,” says Tiani Cook, head of a nonprofit organization, “we have to take whatever we can get from them.”

As visitors, we are lucky to hear the story and help in any way we can, because once you experience the beauty and magic of these islands and its culture, you too will want to give back. And return to these islands year after year, because there is always more to explore than you might expect. A hui hoo!


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