Planting taro on Kauai. Image: Heather Goodman - Hawai‘i Tourism Authority
Planting taro on Kauai. Image: Heather Goodman - Hawai‘i Tourism Authority

9 volunteering projects in Hawai‘i

Including a volunteering project in your itinerary is a great way to connect with the people and culture (mo‘omeheu) of Hawai‘i.
A turtle hatchling
A turtle hatchling

1. Help endangered sea turtle hatchlings reach the ocean

During honu’ea and honu nesting season on Maui, from May to October, visitors can volunteer for dawn patrol and nest protection with Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, which has helped more than 13,000 endangered sea turtle hatchlings reach the ocean over the years.

wildhawaii.org

2. Restore wetlands and fishponds

Save endangered endemic waterbirds, migratory birds and aquatic species by helping restore wetlands and fishponds, which were built throughout the Hawaiian Islands in ancient times to practice aquaculture. The Loko Ea Foundation on O‘ahu, travel2change and ‘Āina Ho‘ōla Initiative on island of Hawai‘i are among the organisations seeking volunteers.

lokoea.org

3. Process historic artefacts

Learn about Maui’s rich history through hands-on processing of historic artefacts and documents with Lāhainā Restoration Foundation. After a short tour or presentation by a museum educator, volunteers are given a training session on measuring, describing and photographing before setting to work.

lahainarestoration.org

3. Plant a tree

Since the arrival of man in the Hawaiian Islands, more than half of the native forests have been lost. Help Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative reverse this trend by planting a Legacy Tree at sites including Gunstock Ranch on O‘ahu. Trees can also be tagged and tracked via TreeTracker.

legacyforest.org

Leilani Farm Sanctuary on Maui Image Laurelee Blanchard
Leilani Farm Sanctuary on Maui Image Laurelee Blanchard

4. Volunteer as a farmhand

Get a taste of farm life by helping with jobs such as animal grooming, cleaning the barn and fixing fences at Leilani Farm Sanctuary on Maui. Volunteers can also help with gardening, carpentry, washing windows, cleaning the rabbit yard, maintaining trails and removing invasive plants.

leilanifarmsanctuary.org

Collecting microplastics
Collecting microplastics

5. Take part in a beach clean-up

Removing plastic, ghost nets and other marine debris from Hawai‘i’s beaches helps protect wildlife from being killed or injured. On Maui, you can pick up an upcycled grain bag donated by Maui Brewing Co. and a datasheet from PacWhale Eco-Adventures’ Ocean Store in Ma‘alaea, or Maui Brewing Co. in Kīhei, or take part in Pacific Whale Foundation’s Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program.

pacificwhale.org

A whale fluke
A whale fluke

6. Citizen science

Wild Side Specialty Tours on O‘ahu offers the opportunity to take photos of whale flukes to submit to conservation organisation Happywhale. You can also report green sea turtle tags and whale shark sightings, send photos of manta rays, and document and report debris such as ghost nets to various not-for-profits.

sailhawaii.com

A volunteer at Lanai Cat Sanctuary
A volunteer at Lanai Cat Sanctuary

7. Volunteer at Lāna‘i Cat Sanctuary

Jump ‘knee-deep’ into Hawaiian culture by restoring a lo‘i kalo (taro patch). Volunteering organisation travel2change offers the opportunity to help restore the ecosystem and feed the community by planting this root vegetable, which is a Hawaiian staple, on O’ahu.

lanaicatsanctuary.org

Planting taro on Kauai. Image: Heather Goodman - Hawai‘i Tourism Authority
Planting taro on Kauai. Image: Heather Goodman - Hawai‘i Tourism Authority

8. Plant taro

Jump ‘knee-deep’ into Hawaiian culture by restoring a loi kalo (taro patch). Volunteering organisation travel2change offers the opportunity to help restore the ecosystem and feed the community by planting this root vegetable, which is a Hawaiian staple, on O’ahu. The experience provides a great insight into Hawai‘i’s fragile environment and traditional methods, which extend back many generations.

travel2change.org

9. Preserve a battleship at Pearl Harbor

Helping staff restore and preserve the USS Missouri battleship through jobs such as cleaning, sanding, sweeping and painting provides volunteers access to parts of the ship not open to the general public.

ussmissouri.org

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