How to Be a Conscious Tourist
We want you to love Maui as much as we do, so we partnered with a number of tours and excursions to provide you the best experience. We may make money when you click on the links.
Make the most of your next trip to Maui by integrating ways to give back to the island and local community. From supporting small businesses to volunteer days, there are a lot of ways for you and your family to enjoy Maui in a more responsible way. Below are just a few ideas on how you can make the most of your trip to Maui as a responsible visitor.
1. Honor Hawaiian Culture and Tradition
The island of Maui alone pulled 2.3 million visitors in 2021 for its unbeatable beaches, verdant valley backdrops, and aloha spirit. With the flux of visitors, as well as a spike in transient residents, it is now more important than ever to consciously preserve Hawaiian culture and tradition. Before visiting, take the time to acquaint yourself with local conventions and be open to acclimating to Hawai'i’s way of life.
Consider the basics:
- Live with aloha
- Take note of the things that drive locals crazy
- Stay 10ft away from Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles
- Never walk on a heiau
- Never remove lava rocks or sand from the beach
- Take your shoes off before entering someone’s home
- Mālama 'āina – respect the land
- Respect each other
2. Support Small Businesses
With an economy fueled by the ever-booming tourist industry, the best way to consciously give back to Maui’s community is by supporting local businesses. Venture away from corporate chains and the convenience of resort grounds to experience the true spirit of Maui at a mom-and-pop hole in the walls and a back-alley boutiques. Below we have vetted some of the best locally owned businesses on island:
Dining, Drinks & Coffee
- T Kamoda Store and Bakery, Makawao - A favorite of Maui residents and visitors alike. T Kamoda is known for specialty bake goods such as stick-donuts and guava malasadas. Baked goods sale out quick, so join the line early.
- Tiffany’s Bar & Grill, Wailuku – Kama‘āina have been dining at Tiffany’s for nearly two decades. Enjoy local classics like the Wailuku Saimin and Kim Chee fried rice.
- Esters Fair Prospect, Wailuku - Trading cliché tiki statues for basket chairs and neon lights, Esters Fair Project puts a modern spin on the tiki bar. Grab a meticulously mixed cocktail with a whimsical name; Mezcals lovers are not to miss the “Mercury in Retrograde” and Vodka fans the “Come Here Often”.
- Casanova, Makawao – Located in the heart of historic Makawao town, Casanova’s has been serving up the best Italian food on Maui since 1986. Enjoy freshly made pastas, woodfired pizzas and salads.
- Espresso Mafia, Makawao – A buzzy new coffee spot and welcomed fixture to Makawao Town. The Espresso Mafia is a family owned and run business brewing some of the best coffee on Maui.
- Better Things, Pā'ia - Coffee, matcha, avocado toast, oh my! Better Things in Pā'ia is a north shore staple dishing up all the necessities.
- Marlow, Pukalani - Marlow is a charming family-owned restaurant located in upcountry Maui. Come for the Neapolitan style sourdough pizzas and carefully set menu of farm to table dishes.
- Star Noodle, Lahaina – A place for noodles and elevated Asian cuisine. Star Noodle’s new ocean front location is a must while visiting the west side. Make sure to make a reservation in advance.
- Cafe O’lei, Kihei – Good prices, good food, and good portions – Café O’lei is a favorite of locals and visitors.
- Driftwood, Makawao – A carefully curated boutique in the heart of Makawao town. Shop everything from sought after lines, crystals, scented candles, unique gifts and home décor.
- Goin Left, Lahaina – In the heart of Lahaina town, Goin Left is a spunky, sea-lovin’ boutique with all your surf and sea needs – from bikinis to boards; sunscreens to portable grills.
- Biasa Rose, Pā'ia – Looking for the perfect gift for friends and family back home? Biasa Rose is the place. Shop a carefully selected assortment of Hawai'i made gifts as well a design driven homeware and fashion. Be sure not to miss their killer consignment shop in the back.
- Maui Wave Riders – A family-owned and operated surf school with location in Lahaina and Kihei. Maui Wave Riders provides tailored surf lessons for all ages and skill levels.
- Skyline Zipline Tours – Founded by a father and son team, Skyline Hawai'i offers some of the best zipline tours on Maui. With locations in Kā'anapali and Haleakalā, ziplining is a great opportunity to see Maui by air.
- The Magic of Maui Experience – A locally owned private tour company that is redefining guided island adventures. The Magic of Maui tailors every excursion to individual group needs. With excursions to Hāna, Haleakalā and more, Dana and her team of expert guides go above and beyond to provide you with an unforgettable Maui experience.
The idea of volunteering on vacation might weigh heavy on those looking to escape life’s everyday duties. However, “voluntourism” on Maui can be fun and easy to integrate - from helping at local farm’s to interactive beach cleanups, here are just a few of our favorite volunteer opportunities on Maui:
Maui Farm – Plan ahead for the opportunity to volunteer at the Maui Farm. Volunteer days include help with planting, weeding and sowing. It is a great opportunity to get familiar with Hawai'i’s flora and to connect with Maui’s people.
“Honu Hero” – Created by the Maui Ocean Center, the Honu Hero program aims to protect the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle and other sea life by removing plastics from Maui’s shorelines. All you need to do to join the program is to stop by the MOC Aquarium and pick up a beach clean-up kit. Clean-up kits include a reusable bag for trash, gloves, a data-sheet and clipboard. Bring your kit to any beach then return your filled out data sheet and beach kit to the MOC.
4. Make Conscious Everyday Choices
Maui county is adamant about lowering the county's carbon foot print and legislation has been put in place to warrant conscious practices - such as the ban of plastic bags and straws and pulling harmful sunscreens from shelves. While these measures encourage responsible choices, individual efforts should still be made. Simple things like making sure your trash ends up in the trash or recycling bin, picking garbage up at the beach or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store.
Do you have other ideas of how those visiting Maui could give back?