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Five years ago, Gary Marrow and Tony DeLellis planted the seeds of a green visitor-oriented venture that has grown into a thriving example of an eco-tour done right. Called KapohoKine Adventures, the Big Island-based tour company is making a name for itself with its engaging, one-of-a-kind excursions that have minimal impact on the environment.
Guides Emma Kela and Kirk Weston of KapohoKine
"We felt that visitors to Hawaii had a desire to be educated about local customs and traditions so that they could better enjoy and understand the place," said DeLellis. "And, we wanted to do it all with a sense of style and luxury missing in most visitor experiences here."
As they developed their company, Marrow and DeLellis felt a need to honor and protect the culture, traditions and inherent resources of the island.
"We don’t do the normal big-bus tours," said DeLellis. "We keep groups small, allowing us access to places normally off-limits to travelers. We hope that exposing more people to the real Hawaii — places of pristine natural beauty and ancient raw power — will help to keep traditional Hawaii alive."
But while KapohoKine Adventures explores the wilds of a volcanic island still in creation, it always keeps the comfort of its guests in mind. Clients ride in seven-passenger luxury SUVs or 10-passenger VIP vans with onboard DVD entertainment, and they enjoy organic gourmet lunches, snacks and beverages.
Marrow and DeLellis are passionate about maintaining a carbon-neutral footprint operation-wide, following EPA guidelines from start to finish. For every meal on every tour, they use washable plates and silverware rather than plastic and paper. Guides carry non-leaching, toxin-free water bottles and the company relies on washable towels rather than paper or disposables.
Only rechargeable batteries go into their flashlights and equipment, or they use rechargeable equipment. Staff members recycle everything they can, from the plastic, glass and aluminum used on tours to the cardboard and packaging that their supplies come in.
Once a month, the KapohoKine team takes time on the weekends to give something back to the community. Even its guests get into the act; at least one person from each vehicle (maybe 19 or 20 a week) is invited to plant a tree at one of its locations.
The result is a tour at once captivating and conscientious.
"We pamper every client and strive to exceed the highest expectations," said DeLellis. "We try to provide the finest equipment and amenities to accentuate our guest’s appreciation of this magnificent place. We want them to have the confidence to book with their travel agents again because they had such a great time with us on their agent’s recommendations."
KapohoKine Adventures866-965-9552www.kapohokine.com Tours include Evening Volcano Explorer ($119); Secrets of Puna ($179); and Rainforest and Waterfall Explorer ($99). All tours include entrance fees, lunch at a working macadamia nut farm with complimentary champagne and local beer and snacks, water, juice and sodas throughout the day.While the company’s three tours focus on attractions on the east side of the island, it recently launched westside pick-up and drop-off locations to expand its reach.Commission: 10 percent