If you’re a visitor, the idea of volunteering on vacation may seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t the point of a vacation to stop working? Well, yes, but sometimes the lines between work and play can get a little blurry. As is the case with the following volunteering opportunities around Maui.
Besides helping to protect Maui’s fragile resources, you’ll no doubt be “paid” in wonderful memories and insider insights from those working on the ground — or sea — level. I guarantee you that you won’t regret it. It might just be the most memorable thing you do here.
For local residents, volunteering is a chance to protect these precious resources in your own backyard. It might also show you a side of Maui you’ve never seen before.
Here are my choices for Maui’s Top 5 Volunteer Opportunities. Other suggestions welcome. Let me know in the comment box below if you’ve had a memorable volunteering experience on Maui.
1. Sea turtle monitoring
Every summer through fall, Maui’s baby Hawksbill turtles face an uphill battle for survival–dodging human tracks, hungry predators and disorienting light just to crawl from nest to ocean. You don’t have to be a marine biologist to protect our water-soaked friends. The Hawaii Wildlife Fund welcomes volunteers to help guard the critically endangered hawksbill turtles—less than 100 adult females nest in Hawaii. Its nest watch program holds nightly stake-outs that ensure these little ones live another day. Hawaii Wildlife Fund has many other year-round, ongoing projects, so be sure to check their website for volunteer opportunities happening throughout the year.
2. Olowalu Cultural Reserve
Spanning over 74 acres from the base of the West Maui Mountains to the sea, this area was once a thriving ahupua‘a (Native Hawaiian land division). Today, this classroom without walls includes cultural and archeological sites, including nearly 70 petroglyphs that make up one of the largest collections on Maui. Volunteers are helping turn back the clock during monthly community work days, lovingly restoring the reserve to its former glory.
3. Blue’aina reef cleanups
Beach lovers will literally go head over heels for this monthly reef cleanup targeting local surf spots. Hosted by Surfrider Foundation and Trilogy Excursions, volunteers hop aboard, don dive gear and scour the ocean floor for debris. A $20 donation is requested, with all profits benefiting a different Maui nonprofit each month.