With more than 400 threatened and endangered species in the state, Hawaii has been named the “endangered species capital of the world” and it’s more important than ever for travelers to keep sustainability in mind when traveling to this gorgeous part of the world.
I recently visited the Big Island of Hawaii and stayed at Fairmont Orchid who recently launched its Live Pono Hawaii package which inspires visitors to take the Pono Pledge. It’s so wonderful to see hotels take initiative to help the environment and to encourage visitors to be mindful when traveling.
Fairmont Orchid’s Live Pono package includes a one-hour private snorkel excursion for two, activity passes for two which includes beach rental equipment, an 8 ounce jar of locally-made Hawaiian Organic Kiawe Honey, a tin of reef-safe sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, and $10 from every room night booked will go to the Hawaii Wildlife Fund to protect native wildlife.
In the spirit of encouraging responsible tourism, here are ten must-know tips for sustainable travel in Hawaii!
10 Important Tips For Sustainable Travel In Hawaii
1. Never Feed Or Touch Wildlife
Both in the water and on land, please view wildlife only from afar and never feed them. Feeding wildlife makes them habituated and reliant on humans.
Getting too close or feeding wildlife can lead to attacks — and in the case of marine life, many of them have a mucous covering them which is antibacterial and touching them can remove some of this protective coating.
2. Leave The Environment The Way You Found It
In order for everyone to enjoy nature, we must never take anything that doesn’t belong to us (including shells and sand) and tread as lightly as possible while hiking and enjoying the ocean. Even better: leave the environment better than you found it by picking up any trash you find along the way!
3. Stay On The Trail
In this day and age of Instagram, it’s tempting to want to go off trail in order to get the perfect photo, but please remember that there are native plants and wildlife that can easily be harmed by going off trail! Staying on trails also keeps us safe as well — because you’re less likely to encounter wildlife or plants that could harm you.
4. Carry A Garbage Bag
Carrying a garbage bag for your own trash and to pick up any litter you find while you’re out exploring is so important! The Earth will thank you.
5. Don’t Litter
I know this one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to mention. Litter, including cigarette butts, can harm wildlife if they try to eat it and cigarette butts are poisonous to the environment.
6. Buy Local
Buy locally made products rather than those that have been imported. This helps cut down on your carbon footprint because items don’t need to be shipped to the island and it helps the local economy as well!
7. Research Your Tour Operators
Aside from your flight to Hawaii, tours can have the biggest environmental impact when traveling. It’s important to read reviews about the tour company before you book and find out if their guides respect the environment and encourage best practices to guests. Small group tour operators tend to have less of an impact as well.
8. Bring A Reusable Water Bottle & Bag
I don’t think many people realize what a huge impact this can make while traveling — especially water bottles! I bring a reusable bottle with high insulation on every trip and I fill it up in the airport and at my hotel so I rarely use any plastic water bottles unless absolutely necessary (when I can’t find fresh water).
If you are traveling in Europe or North America, most tap water is safe (but do your own research!) so that’s what I drink. If the hotel has a gym, they also usually have a water filling station there, if you prefer not to drink tap water.
A reusable bag is another must have when traveling. You can use it when shopping for souveniers, at the grocery and so much more.
9. Hang Up Your Towels
This is the universal sign in hotels to let the staff know that you don’t need your towels washed every day. When it comes to saving water, every little bit helps!
10. Turn Off Lights and AC
This is an easy one to forget when traveling because we’re not footing the electricity bill, but I treat my hotel room pretty close to the same as I would my home. I turn off lights when I’m not using them and I always turn off the AC and heat when I leave the room. It actually drives me crazy when I come back to my room to find the AC back on after I’ve turned it off!