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In the cowboy town of Makawao, near the slopes of Haleakala National Park, guests can take a gentle ride back in time to Maui’s plantation era at the five-bedroom Hale Hookipa Inn. Built in 1924, the inn, which retains many original features such as a cook house, stone bread oven and redwood water tower, is listed on both the Hawaii Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.
While owner Cherie Attix is dedicated to maintaining the property’s historic integrity and character, she also strongly encourages her guests to look to the future by participating in any of a number of Maui’s volunteer programs.
For Attix, volunteering is all about laulima, a Hawaiian concept which translates to “many hands.”
“Laulima is how we carry the canoe to the water, how we clean old nets off the beach or how we clear the grass and replant the native forest,” said Attix.
The inn is so committed to the cause that it was recognized as one of four “hotels with an edge on voluntourism” by O, The Oprah Magazine. Additionally, Attix has created the Volunteer on Vacation in Hawaii website, which provides visitors with a list of Maui’s voluntourism opportunities. To encourage participation, guests who volunteer when staying at the inn can enjoy a 5 percent discount.
“Protecting our fragile environment, animal care and involvement with the community are all ways that visitors and kamaaina (locals) alike can show appreciation for our island home,” said Attix.
The following are a few ways that visitors can lend a hand on Maui.
Friends of Haleakala National Park
Trip participants backpack into the park’s famous volcanic crater and stay for two to four days at a campsite or cabin. The group performs any number of tasks, ranging from cabin maintenance to native planting to invasive species removal.
Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership (LHWRP)
The LHWRP is dedicated to restoring the ancient and nearly extinct koa forests located high atop Mount Haleakala. Volunteers participate in programs in which they plant trees, remove non-native species and collect seeds.
Leilani Farm Sanctuary
Orphaned, neglected or abused farm animals can find a safe home at Leilani Farm Sanctuary, which also creates nurturing programs for children who come from troubled homes. Volunteer projects include animal grooming, barn cleaning, gardening, carpentry, tree trimming and fence installation and repair.
Hawaiian Island Coastal Land Trust
The former 277-acre Waihee Dairy, home to some of Maui’s last remaining sand dunes, was once destined to become a golf resort. Today, the land is permanently preserved as an archaeological site and a habitat for native plants and animals. Volunteers help cut brush and invasive trees, collect seeds and plant native plants.
In ancient times, the wealthiest chiefs owned at least one walled-off section of the ocean, or fishpond. When a fishpond needed repairing, the entire community would work together, passing rocks to one another to help speed along restoration. Today, volunteers can help rebuild the stone wall enclosing the Koieie fishpond, located just offshore from the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Kihei.
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)
With a few hours of training, REEF volunteers can play a valuable role in marine conservation on Maui. While diving or snorkeling, participants collect data on fish populations, and their findings are shared with various resource agencies.