– Culinary, cultural and outdoor experiences showcase modern and early Hawaiian sustainability efforts –
HONOLULU – The concerns of the natural world were heard and addressed in one of the world’s most exceptional places to see the power and beauty of nature.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, held in Honolulu earlier this month, made it clear to the world why Hawaii was the ideal host for such significant gathering and why it would be again.
The practice of malama aina (“caring for the land”) was deeply rooted in the everyday lives of early Hawaiians. This wasn’t solely because of the isolation of the Hawaiian Islands, but because nearly every plant, fish, bird, mountain, forest, valley and component of nature occupied a sacred place in Hawaiian culture. The good news for modern-day Hawaii? Many of the thoughtful methods of sustainability and caring for the land practiced by the first Hawaiians are still being taught and practiced today. And by more than people of Hawaiian ancestry.
Beyond Hawaii’s always breathtaking natural beauty, visitors can experience a unique take on traditional ecotourism by taking the first three letters of the word and immersing themselves in the Islands through three themes: Eating, Culture and the Outdoors. We’ll start with:
ahupuaa – mountain-to-sea natural resource management land division systems, which made it possible for communities to be self-sustaining. Beyond the selling and trade of agriculture within Hawaii, Native Hawaiians also embraced the practice and necessity of malama aina by implementing sustainable farming methods for future generations. Today, visitors can enjoy Hawaii’s abundance of fresh produce, meats and seafood in many restaurants, or go a step further and learn about where all of it comes from. From farms to fishponds, and ranches to ocean, the journey is as inspiring as it is delicious.
Oahu – Reflective of the superior quality and flavor of local produce, many of the island’s notable chefs – including Andrew Le of The Pig and The Lady, Johan Svensson of BLT Market, and Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Cafe – source ingredients for their menus directly from Oahu farms. From Kahumanu Farm, with its regenerative and biodynamic methods, to Kualoa Ranch, which has earned praise for its locally raised oysters and beef, farms all over Oahu are also playing an active role in their communities, providing vocational training and offering residents opportunities to reconnect to the land.
Maui – Nestled in the upcountry farming community of Kula, Oo Farm encompasses eight acres of pristine land dedicated to growing quality produce. Founded as a citrus and stone fruit orchid with a few coffee trees, the farm now features multiple rows of lettuces and garden vegetables, and greenhouses with flavorful tomatoes, and herbs supplying several Lahaina eateries, including PacificO Restaurant, Feast at Lele, and Aina Gourmet Market. Visitors can even harvest ingredients for their own meal on an interactive farm tour.
Island of Hawaii – In pre-contact Hawaii, agricultural systems constructed by Hawaiians fed a population of more than 30,000 people in the North Kohala District of Hawaii Island. Kalo (taro) was cultivated in the wetlands of Pololu Valley, and uala (sweet potato) and ko (sugar cane) in dry-land field systems to the south. The community of North Kohala remains committed to the revitalization of the area’s agricultural systems, continuing old world farming traditions in modern times. Farm tours, tastings and culinary celebrations in North Kohala attract residents and visitors.
Kauai – Inspired by the healing capabilities of the noni tree, which is found on many Pacific islands, Kauai Farmacy owners Doug and Genna Wolkon designed their north shore Kauai garden to be a vault of herbal healing through plant medicine. Located alongside a river bend in Kilauea, Kauai Farmacy is grows more than 60 medicinal plants. Also known for its fine herbal teas, the four-acre farm welcomes guests to its “Medicinal Herb Garden Experience” tour.
Reverence for Hawaii‘s natural beauty is evident in the many oli (chants), mele (songs) and legends of the Islands. A deep respect for the environment remains strong in modern-day Hawaii. Among other daily occurrences, visitors can see that respect in a fisherman’s offering of his first catch to the gods in gratitude, or a hula halau (hula school) presenting ahookupu (offering) to a forest before gathering ferns and flowers to make lei. An effort that often involves entire communities, farming in Hawaii is still largely aligned with the values, traditions and beliefs of Hawaiian culture. The only-in-Hawaii experiences below invite visitors to learn about the host Hawaiian culture and gain newfound appreciation for the stunning landscapes around them.
Oahu – Located on the island’s Windward Coast, Paepae o Heeia was established to malama the Heeia Fishpond and serve as its kiai (watchman), preserving the centuries-old architectural treasure and Hawaiian cultural resource. In Native Hawaiian culture, fishponds are symbolic of a community’s intellectual, physical and spiritual sustenance, and serve as a food resource to families. Encircling 88 acres of brackish water, the walls of Heeia Fishpond are 12 to 15 feet wide and more than 1.3 miles long. The completion of the fishpond’s modern reconstruction required the mostly volunteer help of thousands of residents and visitors over three years, passing and stacking rocks and coral. Presently, Heeia Fishpond visitors are invited to participate in community workdays to clear invasive plants, leaving Oahu just a little bit better than they found it.
Island of Hawaii – As if its showcase of more than 1,100 acres of native plant, animal and marine life, as well as heiau (temples) and kii pohaku (petroglyphs), wasn’t enough of a sensory overload, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and its scenic 3-mile oceanside trail also encompass centuries-old saltwater ponds and loko kuapa (lava rock seawalls) built for fish trapping. The park’s ponds offer protected wetlands for native birds, and its beach a natural sanctuary for honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles). A walk along the white sands of the park’s Honokohau Beach might even include the rare sighting of a Hawaiian monk seal catching sunrays. Kaloko-Honokohau’s two fishponds, Aimakapa and Kaloko, and restored loko kuapa demonstrate the engineering acuity of the early Hawaiians who settled this rugged, lava-encrusted coastline north of Kona, found sustenance and created communities.
Kauai – For more than 20 years, Waipa Foundation has worked with its nearby communities to manage the 1,600-acre Waipa ahupuaa, located on Kauai’s north shore. Dedicated to the cultivation of kalo (taro) and other fruits and vegetables within the ahupuaa, Waipa Foundation welcomes participants of all ages to experience how Native Hawaiian values and practices apply to modern life, offering activities that include a weekly community pounding of its kalo into poi and a local farmers market.
Molokai – Embark on an adventure steeped in Hawaiian culture, values and tradition on the Halawa Valley Falls Cultural Hike. The hiking adventure offers guests a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about the valley’s historical significance and discover cultural landmarks and countless ancient rock features. Guests will also find relaxation in the refreshing pond beneath Mooula Falls, which offers breathtaking views of the valley.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeking fan of the great outdoors, a weekend adventurer, or an admirer of Hawaii’s culture and beauty, the diversified landscapes of the Hawaiian Islands offer an abundance of opportunities for inspiration and rejuvenation. From witnessing molten lava flows on the Island of Hawaii to soaking in views of Mount Waialeale while water tubing through the rainforests of Kauai, and viewing sunrise at the 10,023-foot elevation summit of Haleakala volcano to swimming with marine life on Oahu’s west side; a wide-range of eco-friendly adventure and excitement awaits.
Oahu – From ocean and land adventures on Oahu’s rural North Shore, to the charm of gazing at Honolulu’s city lights post-sunset, the excess of wonderful experiences available to visitors and residents are energizing and empowering. Whether it’s flying above the tree tops on CLIMB Works Keana Farms’ zipline course, indulging in local delicacies at the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market, or visiting the Honolulu Fish Auction for lessons on the quality and sustainability of Hawaii seafood, all are invited to discover the extent and wonder of Hawaii’s efforts to protect the environment and support local farmers and purveyors.
Maui Nui – Maui, Molokai and Lanai – the three islands that comprise Maui County and are collectively called Maui Nui – each offer unique opportunities for visitors to discover their natural beauty. Stand on the summit of Haleakala volcano at sunrise to watch the morning sky light up. Snorkel in the clear waters of Molokini islet, a marine life conservation area showcasing a kaleidoscope of coral and more than 250 species of tropical fish. Or experience even more eco-friendly adventures on Molokai and Lanai. Maui Nui’s charms are guaranteed to captivate all visitors looking to tour green.
Island of Hawaii – The youngest and largest of the Hawaiian Islands offers maximum adventure and inspiration. Stand on some of the newest land on Earth at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and witness the flow (or glow) of molten lava at Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. While on the volcano, explore a walk-in lava tube and hike the park’s 150-miles of volcanic crater, lava desert and rainforest trails. North of Kilauea’s indigo lava landscape, on the island’s Hamakua Coast, head to the luscious greenery of Akaka Falls State Park. A brief hike takes visitors through a rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns to the park’s two waterfalls: 100-foot Kahuna Falls and breathtaking 442-foot Akaka Falls.
Kauai – The tropical beauty of Kauai offers visitors a colorful landscape for exploration. From the vibrancy of the many native Hawaii plants found at Limahuli Garden and Preserve to the exhilarating rush of adrenaline experienced while tubing through the mountains and rainforests of old Lihue Plantation, visitors will find excitement and rejuvenation everywhere on the island. An icon of Kauai’s natural splendor is the majestic 17-mile Napali Coast, accessible by air, sea and experienced hikers. The awe-inspiring panoramas found along this enchanted coast are just about guaranteed to replenish the spirit.
The possibilities for amazing discoveries in Hawaii are endless. For more trip ideas from residents and vacationers, follow the hashtag #LetHawaiiHappen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau is contracted by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the state of Hawaii’s tourism agency, for marketing management services in North America. The HTA was established in 1998 to ensure a successful visitor industry well into the future. Its mission is to strategically manage Hawaii tourism in a sustainable manner consistent with the state of Hawaii’s economic goals, cultural values, preservation of natural resources, community desires, and visitor industry needs. For more information about the Hawaiian Islands, visit gohawaii.com and HVCB’s social channels on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube.