I Left my Heart on Maui


What better way to celebrate love and romance than to volunteer and totally immerse on Maui? The Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 with support from the Hawaii Tourism Authority and County of Maui Office of Economic Development, offers a “Volunteering on Vacation” program. This is a way to give back to the places you visit, meet people who share your interests, and learn about the local environment and culture. Combine a trip to Hawaii with volunteer work to help restore native plants, remove invasive species, protect cultural sites, and clean up the beaches.

Participants receive a free Volunteering-on-Vacation T-shirt, learn about the history of natural areas and meet local experts. This program is free and you will gain the satisfaction of having made a difference on behalf of Maui’s environment. If you volunteer in Hosmer Grove in Haleakala National Park or any venue that charges admission for visitors, your free admission is included in the program. Each Saturday there is a project in Honokawai Valley, an area closed to the public. Learn about this archeological site and Hawaiian culture and history, and remove invasive weeds and plant native species. On the third Sunday of the month there is a program in Haleakala National Park, led by a Pacific Whale Foundation group leader who teaches you about the wilderness area. This program includes three hours of work and a short hike and picnic.

Volunteer on Friday mornings with the Island Fish Pond Restoration project. A naturalist will talk about the coastal area and its history, birds, and some of the last

sand dunes on Maui. Help maintain a new ocean side trail at Hoaloha’aina on Monday mornings, another great area for bird watching. Join the Kanaha Beach project on Tuesday mornings, removing invasive species, clearing marine debris, and planting native species at Kanaha Park, with time for a swim.

If the ongoing group projects do not fit your schedule, you can pick up a kit and plan your own activities. The Beach Clean-up kit includes directions to a local beach, rubber gloves, trash bags, and instructions on how to dispose of litter. This is a great activity for families with children who can learn to give back to the places they visit. Love yourself, who you’re with and where you go. My bags are packed and ready to go. What about yours?