Tips for being earth friendly on your Hawaii vacation


Hawaii has a rather fragile ecosystem and we as visitors need to be mindful of that and do what we can to protect it. As today is Earth Day, I though it would be useful to list some tips for being more environmentally conscious on your Hawaii vacation. So, here are some simple ways to try to be a responsible visitor.

1. Protect Hawaii’s coral reefs when you are swimming or snorkeling, by following these easy steps

  • Don’t feed the fish. If you feed the fish, they will be less likely to graze on the algae image growing on the coral. Too much algae will eventually smoother the coral. Use a tour that advertises that it is a “fish friendly establishment”.
  • Don’t touch or step on the coral. Not only does touching coral damage the it, but it can also cause some pretty nasty cuts and injuries.
  • Use coral safe sunscreen. As I mentioned in a previous news round up, some studies indicate that the chemicals in sunscreen are harmful to coral. If you plan to spend lots of time in the water, consider using a coral-safe sunscreen. Sea Safe and Caribbean Solution are brands of coral-safe sunscreen that I know. Do you know of other brands?
  • Review this excellent video which explains more about how fragile the under water world is.

2. Consider volunteering some of your vacation time to help the environment. Here are just a couple of the volunteer opportunities I’ve shared here at Go Visit Hawaii:

image3. Rent an environmentally friendly car. Rent the smallest car that suits your needs for better fuel economy. Better yet, I mentioned in this news roundup, you can rent cars powered by biodiesel.

4. Fly the most direct route to your destination. Let’s go ahead and acknowledge that the fuel consumption and emissions from aircraft damage our environment. So to minimize the negative effects, choose a direct path to the islands. Not only will you help to save jet fuel, you’ll also be spending less time in the air and waiting in the airport. Consider purchasing carbon offsets. Per Responsible Travel, Clean Air – Cool Plant has a useful consumer guide to carbon offsets.

5. Choose hotels and tours that have green programs. For example, the Sheraton Kauai Resort won a Green Business Award. As you search for tours, place extra consideration on tours that advertise that they are eco-friendly and/or give back to the environment.

What other ideas do you have to be a more responsible visitor to Hawaii? Please share your thoughts.

  1. Those are great tips not only for visitors, but also for people who live here. The other thing I would like to add is obvious, but visitors and locals are both guilty of it. Please remember to pick up your trash and dispose of it properly.

  2. Hi HVG – Thanks for adding the tip about being careful to not litter. As I was writing the article, I contemplated including that tip. I eventually decided that GVH readers would never intentionally litter, so I’d be preaching to the choir. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Aloha Sheila! You hit the nail right on the head. Taking care of our planet is such an important thing and when it comes to Hawaii, sometimes it’s even more vital because we are an isolated eco-system that is fragile and must be treated with a little extra precaution. All the tips you listed were fantastic!

    Just wanted to add that as with most hotels in Hawaii and throughout the world, you can always conserve a little water by reusing your towel for more than one use instead of throwing it on the floor to add to more wash cycles at the hotel. Also just wanted to note that if your going to the Big Island and looking for a place to stay, check out the Big Islandโ€™s Mauna Lani which is among Earth’s most “Earth-Friendly” resorts. By staying there, you will be supporting more conservation of the environment.

    Take care! A hui ho…

  4. Aloha V Brown – Thank you for adding the tip about reusing towels to conserve water. I live in a region that has been in an exceptional drought, so water conservation is very near and dear to my heart.

    That’s great to know that the Mauna Lani is so earth-friendly. I have stayed there but it’s been a few years. Another commendable thing about the Mauna Lani is that they really make an great effort to teach Hawaiian history and culture.

    Mahalo for your visit and first time comment here!

  5. Excellent Earth day post, i would amend the “touching coral” to say that touching it KILLS it ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Thanks, Jim! Your comment had me wondering about how damaging it actually is to touch coral. So, like a big ol nerd ๐Ÿ™‚ I had to dig deeper. I found this article: It basically says that scientist don’t know for sure that touching coral kills it, but lots of tour operators tell people that it kills it anyway. I thought that was kind of interesting.

  7. Yeah, they aren’t 100% sure and I’d rather not chance it. Sure you can eat McDonalds all the time, but everyone knows it’s not good for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Sheila, Thanks for the mention. ๐Ÿ™‚
    HVG, For sure we all need to dispose of our litter properly. The next step is for the trash receptacles to be emptied. We noticed that the trash cans along Maalaea Beach in Maui were all full to the point of overflowing the day we did our beach cleanup. Along comes the wind and well, you don’t need much imagination to picture what’s going to happen. Seemed to us like the county needs to add more cans or increase the frequency of pickups.

  9. Aloha Sheila,
    Hawaii is going green & we want to encourage tourists to think in particular about their footprint when they are visiting. Despite fancy marketing, the bigger resorts & hotels do put a serious strain on our environment – that’s why we encourage visitors to consider other options that REALLY are green. Not to be self-serving with this post, but we just opened a little Eco-Resort that is 100% off-grid, 100% solar powered, & built from either sustainable or recyclable materials. It’d be great for you to write more about these kinds of things! (Our Eco-Lodge is Lova Lava Land Eco-Resort but there are also several more popping up – these kinds of places are usually local owned, operated, & built – not these huge mega-hotels & resorts built by developers….).

  10. Aloha all..

    This is a heads up that our company is going to have a Earth Friendly Expo in 2009, Hilo HI

    If any of you or any business you know of would like to partipate as a vendor, please email us at!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like