Eco-Tourism On Maui | How To Give Back To The Island That Gives So Much

Eco-Tourism On Maui
Giving Back To The ʻĀina

Eco-tourism is alive and well on Maui.  On my most recent trip I found myself wanting to give back to the island that gives me so much. How does an island ‘give’ me anything? Well, all you have to do is visit Maui and then you’ll know.

From the moment I step off the plane, my heart swells with the love I have for Maui. I hear the palm trees rustling in the island breeze, I see locals in flip flops, shorts and Hawaiian shirts (the only state in our country where you’ll find this kind of attire.) I hear Hawaiian music on the rental car radio. I ‘feel’ the Aloha Spirit embrace me from not just the land but the locals that call Maui their home. And then, my first step on the sandy beach puts me instantly into a state of  ‘Island Time’, the kind of relaxation we all hope for when we visit Maui, I exhale and feel my sense of place on this magical bit of land in the center of the great Pacific Ocean.

It’s just hard to explain. Those who’ve had the privilege to visit or live there know exactly what I’m talking about, those who haven’t will know when they step off the plane.

How do you go about ‘giving’ back to the ʻāina (earth or land, and pronounced eye-na) in a way that is meaningful?  For me it was easy. Volunteer on vacation.

Photo by Cheryl King, Ocean Warrior!
Volunteer On Vacation

Maui has a multitude of volunteer opportunities for those that seek them out. It wasn’t difficult to pick my activity as I walked on ‘our‘ beach, Kamaole II, each day and saw bits and pieces of trash. Trash on ‘OUR‘ beach! Who does this? So I started picking up cigarette butts, band-aids (yuck), empty plastic beverage bottles, kids sand toys, a snorkel flipper missing it’s mate, bottle caps, micro plastics (bits of plastic that have broken down over years and years), sparkling wine cage, food wrappers and more. Well, just have a look for yourself.  The photo below shows what I gathered in 5 minutes of walking on the beach.

Each day I found more and more. On days when we’d have a good ocean swell, more flotsam and jetsam would wash up and I could just walk the high tide line and find things like this.

I’m not oblivious to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch but it has always seemed so obscure to me. I have trouble fathoming a gyre of garbage – somewhere, out ‘there’. But seeing this trash on the beaches of Maui that I’ve been visiting for well over 20 years and seeing the increase in the volume of garbage polluting what was once so pristine really punctuated what I needed to do to give back.

Inspired and motivated to keep Maui as free of marine debris as I could, I began searching online for locally organized beach clean-ups. Sadly beach clean-ups happen often and by various environmental and volunteer groups. I say ‘sadly’ because I find it terribly sad that beach clean-up are part of our vernacular. These beach clean-ups happen for a variety of reasons. The majority of what I picked was deposited on the beach by careless visitors both local and non-local alike. But depending on what part of the island you are on, much of it washes ashore with the tides and currents.

I found one particular beach clean up happening on the last Sunday of each month and it luckily coincide with my visit. So at 8:15 a.m. I left Kihei and headed to the Ka’ehu Beach on the North Shore to meet with the group called SHARKastics to join in their monthly clean up effort.

I really had no idea what to expect.  I brought a hat, backpack, my reef-safe sunscreen, sturdy shoes and sunglasses.  But darn! Halfway there I realized that I forgot my water. No worries, I just stopped and bought two bottles of water at a gas station on the way. Little did I know what a faux pas I was committing. Bringing single use plastic bottles to a beach clean up where we’d be cleaning up –you guessed it- single-use plastics of all kinds. Oh the irony of it all and yes, I felt like a dork doing that but embraced it as a learning moment and as a personal reminder why I needed to ALWAYS bring my own reusable water bottle. Of course there was no judgement passed by our group (they were filled with the Aloha spirit!) and there was a water station available to refill reusable water bottles when needed!

As I arrived at Ka’ehu beach, I was a little unsure that I was in the right place – this isn’t a beach that looks to be popular with visitors, but I was met at the county gate and let in by a cheerful Sharkastic crew member. I drove over to the beach and met up with over two dozen other volunteers, half a dozen Sharkastics crew plus one amazing Honu (sea turtle) sniffing pup! But more about Tauzer the Honu Hound in just a bit.

Ka’ehu Beach image by Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, via Facebook

Volunteers are given gloves, 5-gallon buckets and an introduction to the day’s tasks. Ka’ehu beach is long stretch of black lava rock and black sand beach located to the north-west of Kahului Airport and to the east of Waihee/Waiehu area. According to www.wildhawaii.orgWaiehu’s Ka’ehu Beach on the northwest coastline of Maui is one of the few nesting beaches for green turtles. It also happens to be one of the major marine debris collections zones of Maui.

According to our fearless leader for the day, Cheryl King, the ocean swells and currents make Ka’ehu beach a plastic magnet and the local dumping zone for the flotsam and jetsam of the ocean. Marine debris is deposited daily in vast amounts.

Due to consistent trade winds and currents plus the close proximity of a bustling human population, Ka’ehu collects local land-based plus foreign marine debris. – C. King via Facebook

Cheryl King, a woman of many talents and one that wears many hats including Marine Biologist,  spearheads the group of like minded volunteers. Their mission, to clean up Maui beaches, provide safe turtle nesting habitat and to educate the public on the threat that Marine Debris has on our oceans, beaches, marine wildlife and human health. But what the heck is a Sharkastic anyway?

Glad you asked!  Sharkastics are animal-bitten plastic, a phenomenon and are commonly found during their marine debris cleanups in Hawai’i. Many animals make these marks, not just sharks.

The very recognizable bite marks can be seen here in this flip flop. (image below via CRE8 Magazine, Issue No. 4, an article about Sharkastics, and can be found here.)

The Beach Clean Up

On to the beach clean up.  We were instructed to start at the far, north end of the beach and work our way back so as to not have to carry debris to the end and back. And so we eagerly set off with our buckets.  Within literally seconds, I found bits and pieces of plastic, garbage of all kinds. I looked around, bewildered. Where does it all come from? How did it find it’s way to beautiful Maui? It pained me to walk past it and toward the piles and piles that lay ahead so I stayed in the same general area and found more than I cared to see.

A few hundred yards down the beach I find Lauren and her husband Kyle (two amazing and local volunteers, Lauren also happens to be a marine biologist and ecologist) feverishly working with another Sharkastic crew member to dislodge an enormous ghost net that was well embedded into the sand bank.  I put down my bucket that was nearly full and began to dig and tug and dig and tug. But this huge net was not giving up it’s grip. We worked for over an hour and a half to remove just a portion. Sadly, it was so deeply embedded into the sand and rocks that we were only able to retrieve part of it. But I’m hopeful that the next batch of beach cleaners were able to retrieve the rest.

Ghost nets like these ensnare marine life such as sea turtles, sharks, whales and dolphins, seals and so much more. One might think that fishing boats would be more responsible and remove their own debris rather than leave these nets to float and entangle marine animals. But as Cheryl explained to us, it is not uncommon for fishermen to put location devices on ghost nets like these to track them at a later date.  You see, small fish and marine life congregate under these floating nets for protection. The small fish attract big fish and so on down the line. The fishermen locate the floating net using GPS and then fish nearby to catch the larger fish. Sadly, the ‘bycatch’ gets innocently tangled in the mess.

‘Honu’ Sea Turtle caught in derelict fishing net


Hawaiian Monk Seal caught in marine debris. Photo by Michael Pitts
Moving Forward

All of this debris, trash and waste, where does it originate?  Well, we can point fingers at our consumption of single use plastics, or we can blame third world countries for not having the infrastructure to process their waste, or we can look at events such as the Fukushima disaster and recall all of the debris washed out to sea by the tsunami.

And the truth is it’s all of the above and at least one other critical factor. Manufacturers and lobbyist protect the industries that produce much of the items that are soon to become waste.  As Matt Wilkins points out in his article in Scientific American entitled ‘More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution‘,  “Because of a legal system that favors corporate generation of plastic, plus public acceptance of single-use items as part of the modern economy, consumers who want to reduce their plastic footprint are faced with a host of challenges.

Those challenges include confusing recycling rules, lack of infrastructure to recycle waste appropriately and the shear volume of single use plastics that abound.

Maui has an especially large challenge, this small island lacks the proper recycling facilities needed to process all the waste.  In January of 2018, China halted all shipments of recyclables being imported. Most of Maui’s and west coast states sent their waste to China for processing. (More here.)

Now, I can’t say I completely agree with the title and subtitle of Wilkins’ article because I believe we can, as consumers, both change our habits and vote with our dollars to stop the flow of single use plastics into and out of our homes. Corporations begin to notice when their bottom line is threatened.

One example of a corporation paying attention to consumer pressure, Starbucks just announced that they will be “removing plastic straws in our stores globally by 2020—reducing more than 1 billion plastic straws per year.”

In addition, Seattle has banned plastic drinking straws and plastic utensils by next year. Both California and Hawaii have banned plastic shopping bags which often end up in the ocean. And California has just announced that it is banning plastic straws in restaurants. All great steps forward.

Image via Greenpeace UK Twitter

And in April of 2018, the Minister of the Environment and Housing of The Bahamas, Romauld Ferreira has announced that in an effort to simultaneously address marine pollution and waste management, single-use plastics – such as shopping bags, food utensils, straws and Styrofoam food containers – will be banned by 2020. [They] will also move to make the release of balloons into the air illegal, as they end up in the oceans, releasing toxins and injuring marine life.

It’s Not Just Maui

I felt incredibly inspired by the Sharkastics crew who were so optimistic  despite the incredible volume of marine debris we gathered. Their outlook was positive and inspiring and they’re using this ‘opportunity’ for lack of a better word to educate and bring people together to tackle a global problem.

There are numerous groups that do beach and ocean clean-up throughout Hawaii.

It’s going to take more than banning straws to fix this one!    -Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii

It isn’t just Maui that is being inundated with ocean trash and marine debris.  Just recently, a clean-up was underway on the island of Molokai.

We found dvd movies, cleaning supplies, tooth brushes, cosmetics, baseball bats, balls, shower heads, toilet seats, Nestle coffee lids (like 100 of them! @roscoefarian ) oyster spacers, helmets, perfumes…. the list doesn’t end! Basically a large percent of anything you throw away anywhere in the world ends up in our ocean and on beautiful un habitant beaches such as #Molokai #Kalaupapa #kalawao Thank you @sustainablecoastlineshawaii for the amazing experience, I’m happy I could make a small difference in this world 🌍 change starts in us! awesome team❤️❤️❤️ @avaglows @_jennymay_ @piratenectars @hkimukai @kalaupapanps #knowyourfisherman h#plasticpollution#nationalpark#rethinkplastic #avoidsingleuseplastic #stopsingleuseplastic

A post shared by Danielle Shemesh (@datsunn_) on

Images via Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Facebook.

And on the Big Island, Kamilo Beach is a marine debris magnet. Regular beach clean-ups occur and are ongoing.

Kamilo Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. Photo by Jen Miller via Facebook

At the end of our beach clean up our group was invited to a free screening of  ‘Albatross, The Film’ at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.  This poetic documentary tells the story of the majestic Albatross on Midway Island. Midway island is at the far end of the Hawaiian Island archipelago.  Seeing the devastation caused by marine debris is a tragic eye opener. There was not a dry eye in the house.  And all of this information is not to shame or guilt us, it’s to bring awareness to a global issue that has had a profound impact on the island that we all love so dearly, Maui.

‘Albatross, The Film’ is now free to watch for all. I cannot recommend it enough!

Images like the one below, of the stomach contents of an albatross drive home the fact that trash and plastic doesn’t really ever get thrown ‘away’. There is no ‘away’, it ends up in landfill, in our waterways, and for a small percentage, recycled.

Stomach contents of a seabird. Plastic!!!!
Garbage Stats

Here are some stats from our day of picking trash;

We removed, sorted and counted 8,274 pieces of marine debris. Here are the broad category results:⠀⠀
*Plastic: 7,048 (85.2%)⠀⠀
*Polystyrene foam: 429 (5.2%)⠀⠀
*Rubber: 180 (2.2%)⠀
*Fabric/clothing: 286 (3.5%) ⠀⠀
*Processed wood: 93 (1.1%)⠀
*Metal: 193 (2.3%)⠀
*Glass: 45 (0.5%)⠀

For this particular clean up, the items were trucked to Maui Ocean Center for their new marine debris exhibit. But most often, the crew sorts and recycles as much as can be, some gets stored until enough is gathered to ship to Parley For The Ocean, for ‘reinvention’ into items such as ADIDAS sneakers.

Amazingly, this beach that we cleaned had been cleaned the day before by another group of volunteers! Imagine that.

Take Action – Volunteer Opportunities

In reflection of this amazing adventure and educational day I had, I’ve made some positive changes here at home and when I’m on Maui visiting.

4Oceans has a great list of things we can all do to reduce our plastic waste. All of these ideas are easy enough to implement and the fact is we can no longer wait for ‘someone’ to clean up this pollution, we must end it before it even gets started!

If you’d like to take part in a Volunteer On Vacation trash clean up then join the SHARKastics group the 4th Sunday of each month at 9 a.m. at Ke’ahu Beach in Waihee.

What: Ka’ehu Beach Cleanups

When: 4th Sunday of Each Month

Details: Meet at the beach at the end of Kukona Place in Wailuku. All supplies provided

Where: Ka’ehu Beach

More information: visit the Sharkastics web page or find them on Facebook

If you’re unable to make their once a month clean up, you can participate in your own self-guided clean up by working with The Pacific Whale Foundation’s Volunteers On Vacation

Volunteers on Vacation is a free program offered by Pacific Whale Foundation to help you easily find meaningful service projects to benefit Maui’s environment. Visitors and residents can spend a few hours giving back to the local community while enjoying access to “off the beaten trail” places and learning about the history and natural ecosystem of the area. Plus, you’ll receive a free tote bag made of recycled materials when you volunteer for 3 hours or more. 

Participate in Pacific Whale Foundation’s marine debris citizen science project when you select a beach of your choosing to clean up and fill out a data sheet recording what debris items are present. This allows our researchers to expand their data set and analyze the trends and patterns of debris on Maui’s beaches and shores as part of our Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program. Pick up your supplies (gloves, recycled bag, datasheet) at Pacific Whale Foundation in either Lahaina or Ma’alaea.

Signing up is easy. Just call Pacific Whale Foundation at least 24 hours in advance at (808) 249-8811 ext. 1 between 6am and 9pm (HST).

Volunteer with Mālama Maui Nui – Mālama Maui Nui is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate, inspire, and empower individuals and communities to beautify and maintain Maui Nui’s environment, thereby supporting its economy, quality of life, and unique Hawaiian culture. Through litter pickups, marine debris cleanups, recycling events, and more, MMN brings individual volunteers, local businesses, community organizations, and government agencies together to promote the environmental health of Maui County.

Check out their ongoing list of volunteer opportunities here.

Volunteer with NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program does not offer any established, regular volunteer opportunities. However, many of their sister programs do. Explore some of those below.

Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Volunteer Program: Volunteers help ensure national marine sanctuaries remain America’s underwater treasures for future generations. Volunteers participate in a wide variety of activities including diving, whale identification, beach cleanups, water quality monitoring, collecting field observations and surveys, acting as visitor center docents and wildlife monitoring. Five sanctuaries in the U.S. contain coral reefs and several others contain deep-sea coral. See what’s available in your area.
Protected Resources Volunteer Opportunities: Help protect sea turtles, monk seals and other protected resources by volunteering with NOAA offices in Hawaii.
Volunteer to Clear Marine Debris: Start your own volunteer beach clean up group, or find a local beach or neighborhood cleanup group. Track your trash using the Marine Debris Tracker app.

Volunteer on your own with the Ocean Conservancy. Join the wave. Next time you’re headed out to the beach or a nearby park, download Ocean Conservancy’s app, Clean Swell and take along a trash bag to collect and document the debris you find.

More info here.

Volunteer with the Turtle Island Restoration Network on the islands of Maui and Lanaʻi, Opportunities include;

  • Snorkel with us, documenting the distribution, abundance and health of sea turtles and manta rays
  • Free diving to clean reefs of abandoned fishing gear
  • Beach cleanups on the 4th Sunday of every month to remove and document marine debris
  • Beach surveys for nesting and hatching sea turtles (May-December)
  • Dune restoration activities
  • Coastal surveys for basking sea turtles
  • Office duties (photo and data analyses) and outreach events

More information here.

Volunteer with Maui Ocean Center for their monthly beach clean up. An example is the clean-up which happened July 21, 2018 “Join Maui Ocean Center and Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute to help care for the longest stretch of sandy coastline on Maui – Oneloa (a.k.a. Big Beach). After the cleanup, learn about the rich history of Makena State Park with Lucienne de Naie – President of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation and a Founding Member of Maui Cultural Lands, Inc.”

More info here. Or contact for Questions/RSVP: or 808.270.7059

Take The Pledge! Maybe your Maui vacation schedule doesn’t allow enough time to do a full day of volunteering. One option is to take the pledge. National Geographic encourages each one of us to take the pledge. The plastic pollution problem is in plain sight. It affects us all. Together we can reduce single-use plastics and make a lasting impact. Take the pledge here.

Surfing in a wave of trash, Photo by Zak Noyle

Super Pup

Oh, and what about Tauzer The Honu Hound?  ‘Tau’, an Australian Cattle dog has been specially trained on the Mainland to detect endangered Sea Turtle nesting sites like those found on Ke’ahu beach.  Tau helps Cheryl locate sea turtle eggs on the beaches in Maui. You can read more about Tau’s amazing story on here ! Tau’s partner is none other than Cheryl King, who aside from being our fearless beach clean-up leader wears the hat of Hawaii Program Director for the Turtle Island Restoration Network.  Read more about Cheryl here.

Image via Tauzer’s Facebook page

Want to see all the marine debris & garbage we picked up?  View the gallery of photos taken on my beach clean-up day.

This adventure has taught me so much. I’ve taken away so much information and learning about the global garbage and plastic crisis. I cannot emphasize enough just how fulfilling it was to participate in a local beach clean-up.

I also never leave home without my reusable water bottle, complete with my very own SHARKastics sticker! Thank you Cheryl!!!!!

Have you participated in a beach clean up in Maui or elsewhere? Or, do you have another Maui Eco-Tourism volunteer opportunity that you want to share? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

Additional Resources

Hawaiian Hawksbill Conservation –

Turtle Island Restoration Network –

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii –

Parley For The Oceans –

Looking for more Maui vacation ideas? Lots of things to see and do,

come on over and visit our Local Maui Guide or Maui Events Calendar!

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Eco-Tourism On Maui- Vacation Rental By Owner in Beautiful Maui

What’s Happening On Maui In July – Special Events Calendar For 2018

What's Happening On Maui In July
What’s happening on Maui in July 2018

We’ve got you covered for special events and what’s happening on Maui for the Month of July

Wednesday, July 4th

Celebrate in Lahaina – with fireworks in this historic town. The fireworks will begin at 8pm. The event is FREE. Bring lawn chairs. More info here.

Pride of Maui offers a 4th of July Cruise. Pride of Maui offers their ‘Fireworks over the Pacific’ boat cruise, hosted aboard Maui’s famous Maxi-power Catamaran. Offering 1500 square feet of unobstructed viewing from the sprawling upper deck. Delicious entrees, Pupus, beer and cocktails. For details and reservations visit

Party down at the Lahaina Loft. Live DJ music , dancing, light pups, a photo booth and more. Tickets are $25-50 per person.

Get your Jazz on at the Lahaina Library. Jazz Maui presents this FREE music extravaganza.

Thursday, July 5

Free Tahitian Dance Show – Lahaina. This ongoing event happens every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday from 6-7pm.

Friday, July 6th

Makawao Rodeo(July 6 to July 8) A rodeo in Maui? You bet! Maui has a rich Paniolo history and you can celebrate this long history at the Makawao Rodeo.

Wailuku First Friday. We’ve blogged more about this town party here. You’ll find live street entertainment, amazing food truck food, souvinirs, local hand-made goods and more. Each Friday Town Party is hosted in a different city. Click the link above to find more info.

Maui’s Finest Craft Fair – Free Craft Fair at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort. This free even showcases crafts, artists and more. This is an Ongoing Event occurring on Tuesday Friday of every week. More info here.

Saturday, July 7

Head to Kahului for the weekly Maui Swap Meet. This fantastic shopping market has everything under the Maui sun. Event is ongoing, this and every Saturday. More info here.

Lanai Pineapple Festival. Catch a ride on the ferry to Lanai and celebrate the Lanai Pineapple Festival. Enjoy crafts, games, food booths, prizes and more. The parade begins at 2pm and ends at 9pm with a crescendo of fireworks. A special 9:30 pm return to Maui ferry will be offered. Book in advance. More info here.

Up Country Farmers Market. visit Or check out our Farmers Market Guide for the most extensive guide to Maui’s best Farmers Markets.

Makawao Parade Get there early for the parade that starts at 9am down Baldwin Avenue. Bring lawn chairs.

Leilani Farm Sanctuary Tours – (this and all Saturdays) Explore the farm and visit rescued animals. Kiss a Donkey, cuddle a chicken or feed the bunnies. Donation is $10. Starts at 10am More info here. Additional tours Mondays & Wednesdays at 4pm.

Sunday, July 8

Lahaina Craft Fair. Sundays. This weekly free event showcases artists, jewelry makers and local crafts people. Located at the Lahaina Gateway Center. More info here.

Makawao Rodeo continues. See above.

Tuesday, July 10

Maui’s Finest Craft Fair – Free Craft Fair at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort. This free even showcases crafts, artists and more. This is an Ongoing Event occurring on Tuesday Friday of every week. More info above.

Friday, July 13

Lahaina First Friday. Head to the Lahaina Town Party – more info here. You’ll find live street entertainment, amazing food truck food, souvinirs, local hand-made goods and more. Each Friday Town Party is hosted in a different city. Click the link above to find more info.

Hawai‘i’s force of Creation, Stories, Chants, Songs & Hula with George Kahumoku Jr.  Join Hawaiian Cultural Practitioner George Kahumoku Jr. for this special event in Paia at Island Fresh Maui.

Thursday, July 19

Free Tahitian Dance Show – Lahaina. This ongoing event happens every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday from 6-7pm. More info here.

Friday, July 20

Lahaina Art Night – Friday Night is Art Night in Lahaina Town. Stroll through dozens of art galleries in LahainaTown each Friday from 7 to 10 pm for special gallery shows, featured artists-in-action, and refreshments, all free and open to the public! Lahaina has earned its nick-name of “The Art Capital of the Pacific,” due to more art galleries per capita than any other American town. A walking map of participating galleries is available in Lahaina Visitor Center (open daily from 9 am to 5 pm) This is an Ongoing Event occurring on Friday of every week.

Candlelit Tours at the Baldwin Home – Step back in time and visit the Baldwin Home Museum with a tour by candle light. Tours are held every Friday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The Baldwin Home Museum is located on the corner of Front and Dickenson Street in the heart of historic Lahaina. $8 – Adults 13yrs +, $6 – Kama’aina, Senior Citizens (65+), Military, Children 12 years and under are FREE.  Please note that admission also allows entry to the Wo Hing Museum on Front Street.

The tours are led by experienced docents with refreshments following on the front lanai. For more information here or call 808.661.3262.

Makawao Third Friday – See listing above for Friday Town Parties

Saturday, July 21

Head to Kahului for the weekly Maui Swap Meet. This fantastic shopping market has everything under the Maui sun. Event is ongoing, this and every Saturday.Link for more info above.

Maui Swap Meet

Keiki Hula Performance – Everyone loves a keiki (child) hula halau performance! And The Outlets of Maui is pleased to present our keiki hula show every 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month.    The children of the Na Pua O Kapi`olani perform traditional hula. Accompanied by a live band and led by Kumu Hula Kathy Ralar, the keiki performers share their Hula as they dance their way into our hearts with the memorable stories and songs of Hawaii. More info here.

Image via Maui News

Saturday, July 28

MayJah RayJah – The annual “must experience” reggae music festival returns with an all-star lineup. Established in 2009, The MayJah RayJah music festival has become a true staple in Hawaii’s island music scene. Since its inception, this annual festival has delivered over 30 festivals on four different islands attracting tens of thousands of loyal island music fans! This year they are taking it up a notch with the biggest line-up in its 9-year history. Featuring one super solid night of premiere island entertainment with New Zealand’s reggae heavyweights, Katchafire, reggae fusion sensation Magic!, and American reggae singer/songwriter Josh Heinrichs and more surprise guests to be announced for one amazing night!! More info and tickets here.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July and every day while in Maui!

Looking for more Maui vacation ideas? Lots of things to see and do,

come on over and visit our Local Maui Guide or Maui Events Calendar!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our Maui Travel Guide to receive the latest travel tips, special events and to find out what's happening in our Island Paradise! * Your privacy is paramount to us. We will never share or sell your information! *
What's Happening On Maui In July - Special Events Calendar presented by Vacation Rental By Owner in Beautiful Maui

The Ultimate Maui Travel Packing Guide

Maui Travel Packing Guide

I often read posts on Facebook Hawaii & Maui travel groups where the upcoming Maui traveler asks ‘What should I pack for my Maui Trip?”  This can be a tricky question to answer since we all have unique itineraries, travel plans and adventures when we visit Maui. But I think we can all agree that we’re trying to find that perfect balance of packing enough ‘stuff’ but not over-packing and today we’ll go over this with our Maui Travel Packing Guide.

We want to pack for ease of travel (i.e. not getting held up at TSA), not over stuffing our carry-on so that we have to check it, having enough room to bring back a few items and so on.

Let’s have a look at some packing ideas to consider for your upcoming island paradise vacation. I’ll break today’s post down into Essentials, Basics, Optional & Tech/Gear and then add in a few of my favorite TIPS and ideas that I’ve gleaned over my many years of traveling to Maui.


Sunglasses & prescription glasses –  if needed, packing your spare prescription glasses is a good idea in the event that you lose yours. If you have polarized sunglasses they really help if you’re floating in the ocean to counteract the glare. A leash is always a good idea. More than once I’ve been glad to have my glasses on a leash!

Prescriptions and Medications – Don’t forget to pack enough (in their original containers) to last the duration of your visit to Maui. Especially important for international travelers.  Chain store pharmacies are located all over the island so no worries if you do run short.

Reusable Water Bottle – keep empty, once you’re on board have a flight attendant refill it from bottled water (not advisable to drink the ‘tap’ water from the plane). Take to the beach with your favorite beverage. Maui has recently enacted new recycling restrictions and the more you use your reusable bottle, the less trash is put into landfill. Remember everything you throw away on island has to go somewhere.

Swimsuit / Swim trunks – 1 to 3 pair. Having more than one means that if you come in from the beach or pool for a while, you’ll have a dry one to change into if you go back out.

Light jacket/hoodie – Evenings and sunsets can be cool – especially if the breeze has kicked up or if you’re nursing a sunburn. Great if you’re planning a sunset boat tour too!

Documents – ID, Boarding passes if you’re not using an Airline app on your smart phone, itinerary, check-in instructions, passport if you’re an international traveler, prescriptions if needed.

Proper footwear – such as sneakers, closed toe walking shoes, water shoes or Teva type sandals. Anything you would feel comfy wearing over lava rocks or hiking on a slippery trail in. Teva’s are great for this as they are amphibious and designed just for this purpose.  If you’re not much of  a hiker and plan to be mostly on the beach for your trip, some water shoes (aka Aqua Socks) are great for snorkeling in spots that have lava or rocky entrances. But please don’t walk or step on coral. It’s ‘no pono‘ to step on living coral.

TIP– Keep in mind that some activities require closed-toe shoes such as a Zipline adventure, horseback riding and so on.

Reusable/packable shopping bag – the kind that folds into it’s own pocket like Chico Bags do. This will come in very handy for shopping (though we do provide reusable shopping bags in our condo and they can be bought on island at ABC store and just about everywhere.)

Shorts – I pack between 2 and 3 pair

Tops – 3 or 4, including a few tank tops, and maybe one nice Aloha Wear top. If I’m traveling during the winter on the Mainland, I wear a long sleeve shirt on the plane. I pack it in my carry on for my departing flight so I can change into it on the plane. At times the planes are like a flying ice-box.

Underwear/Bra/socks – eh, take what you feel you need, just remember we offer a washer and dryer as well as a drying rack for delicates.

Pajamas – pack a lightweight pair.

Slippahs – aka Flip Flops or thongs. Essential on the island. You can always buy them in Maui and ‘Locals’ are a favorite brand among those living in the islands. They can be found at Longs and a few other stores. Keep in mind that it’s a custom as well as a gesture of respect on the islands to remove your shoes upon entering someone’s home. You will most likely see plaques and signs in homes reminding you ‘Mahalo for removing your shoes’.

Hat – The intense sun makes this an essential. Wide brims are best! If yours is packable, bring it! But not to worry if you can’t pack it, there are plenty for sale on the island.

Maui Trip Packing Guide
Avoid this! Pack light, save time and $$

Sarong/Beach cover-up – Great for wearing to and from the beach/pool.  Alternative is to wait until you’re on island and head to the Kalama shopping center (and outdoor market full of various vendors) or ABC stores and purchase a Sarong. I use sarongs as a skirt, a shawl, a towel, a blanket, an impromptu bag and a pillow. They’re very versatile and inexpensive and cover a multitude of needs.

Jeans/pants – One pair, wear them on the plane. You most likely won’t wear them again unless your activity requires it such as horseback riding or heading to the Haleakala summit.

Sundress/Skirts/Nice outfit –  I have a few light sundresses that I like to take, they’re made of rayon type material similar to sarongs and pack up small in my bag. I also take a miniskirt or two. One nice outfit – You’ll want to dress up a bit if you have plans to attend one of the many fabulous luaus or if you have reservations for one of Maui’s higher end restaurants – no need to go over the top – even in dressing up on the island, it’s really pretty casual. In most if not all restaurants Aloha Wear is perfectly appropriate.

Rash Guard – these are great for keeping the intense sun off, snorkeling when the water temperature feels a little cooler. Don’t worry if you don’t have one yet, they sell them all over the island and the big box stores down to the mom & pop shops are sure to have a good supply and better selection than the Mainland.

Optional & Tech

Headlamp – great to have for late night beach walks or if you do sunset on Sunday at Little Beach.

Camera gear – travel tripod, GoPro accessories for great ocean shots, memory cards, extra battery packs,

Phone charger & gadget cables – Self explanatory. We offer several USB charging stations in our condo to keep all of your electronics powered up but you’ll need your power cord.

Extra Battery Pack – and speaking of powering up. We’ve blown out our phone battery taking videos, pictures, texting beach photos to friends etc. Having one of these inexpensive back up chargers are great! They’ll run you less than $20 on Amazon or elsewhere and are great to keep your music and phone going at the beach.

Water & sand-proof Cell phone case – if you don’t already own one, they’re sold at ABC stores and it’s wise to have at the beach. I’m pretty low-tech and have been known to just slip my cell phone into a quart sized Ziplock bag. So if you’re low-tech like me pack a few baggies if you’ve got them, they’ll come in handy.

Binoculars – if it’s whale season (late November through early April) you might want a pair for whale watching from shore or even a boat cruise.

Backpack-  If you think you’ll be hiking (and there are some world class hikes on Maui) then you’ll want a decent backpack. Nothing fancy is needed but something to carry your gear. If you can, use your backpack as your personal carry-on item.

Pen – you’ll need one on the plane before you land in Maui. The state of Hawai’i Agriculture Declaration forms are passed out and need to be filled in. If you followed the tip below to not bring in any fresh fruits or vegetables then you check the box stating that you have nothing to declare. Easy peasy. If you’re declaring agricultural items you’ll need to do your homework before you leave for Hawai’i. Having a pen will streamline the process for you and most likely make you the most popular person in your row since not many others will have a pen handy.

Neck Pillow – The flight to Maui from the San Francisco bay area is about 5 hours. I do like to nap on the plane so a neck pillow is a savior! Or go double duty – I often travel with an inexpensive cashmere shawl. I picked it up at Macy’s on sale and it’s big enough to act like a blanket on the plane, or I can roll it into a neck pillow. Easy to carry as I just wrap around my neck. When I get to Maui, I just put it in my packable shopping bag and hook it on my carry-on handle.

Haleakala Summit Visit – This is the one activity on Maui that requires winter clothing. If you’re planning on catching the sunrise at the Haleakala summit (which is 10001 feet in elevation) you’ll need to pack accordingly. On my recent visit, we did the 3 a.m. trek up the crater and I cannot recommend it enough. The things I packed were;

  • Wool beanie hat
  • Packable down jacket (the kind that is thin and packs into it’s own pocket, mine actually becomes a neck pillow for the plane so double duty!!
  • Warm socks
  • Thin layer of thermal underware
  • Jeans
  • Sneakers

I layered up with a tank top under all of my warm clothes and packed a pair of shorts to change into. As we descended the summit after sunrise, I just peeled layers as the temperatures increased.  Expect it to be in the low 40’s for sunrise, or equally as cool if you do sunset trek. Keep in mind that the summit got a nice dusting of snow in February of 2018 so it can be rather cold. I am sure our Canadian guests are laughing at the notion that 40º F (4º C) is cold.

I’ve put together a sweet printable packing list that you can download and print out. Scroll down to the sign-up form to receive our newsletter and we’ll send you the link to download this Maui Packing Checklist.

Travel Tips

Here are some Tips that might save you packing space or travel time.

Pack half as many clothes and twice as much money.

TIP-  pack a lightweight pair of shorts, t-shirt and slippahs in your carry-on. About 20 minutes before you land, go change out of your travel clothes and when you land you’ll be dressed for the local weather. I generally wear my jeans on the plane and change into a lightweight mini skirt and tank top. They roll up pretty small in my carry on bag -or- here’s where that packable shopping bag comes in handy, just roll up your jeans, shoes and shirt that you just changed out of and put in the shopping bag, tie to your suitcase after you deplane.

TIP-  Don’t pack bulky clothes. It’s the tropics, lightweight, breathable fabrics are best such as cotton or linen.

TIP-  Pack half as many clothes and twice as much money. I know this is a Hawai’i travel cliché but it’s really true. Each trip I look at what I actually wore vs. what I brought. Almost always half of what I bring never got worn.

TIP-  We’re pleased to offer our guests brand new, en-suite full sized washer and dryer (and free detergent too). You won’t need to bring as many garments when you can toss a load of clothes into the washer every few days.

TIP-  If you find that you have to check luggage and you’re traveling with a partner. We have found that if one person stays and collects the checked bags while watching all the carry-on bags, the other can quickly hop on the rental car shuttle and beat the lines. Renting a car can take up to an hour if there are lines at the counter. Maui moves s..l..o..w compared to the Mainland pace and I know, I’m always itching to get to the condo so I can slip into my swim suit and hit the beach. Then just circle back through the terminal and pick everyone and all the luggage up in your rental car.

TIP-  Getting through TSA quickly and easily. Sounds like an oxymoron I know, but there are things you can do to streamline going through the security checks. First off make sure you only have TSA approved items in your carry-on. If you’re not sure if you can bring it, check the TSA ‘What Can I Bring‘ page.  The latest regulations require removing your electronics including laptop and even iPads now. We provide a starter set of hotel-sized toiletries such as bar soap, shampoo and conditioner if you want to skip bringing liquids and get your shampoo etc on island. All major big box stores can be found on Maui so no worries there.

TIP-  When leaving Maui, ALL FOOD must come out of your carry on. It would be wise to just keep it in a separate bag (you know, that reusable shopping bag I mentioned that you bring earlier in this post) and once you go through TSA you can then pack it in your carry on. This regulation of no food in carry-on luggage is something I’ve only seen in the Maui airport and only just recently. So yep, take those mac nut chocolates and bags of taro chips out of your carry-on until you’re through TSA screening. Additionally, if you’re traveling with any agricultural items check with the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture to make sure that they are allowed and that you declare them when going through the Ag inspection stations.

TIP-  Remember when packing to leave for Maui or any of the Hawai’ian islands. Fresh fruit and vegetables are NOT allowed into Hawai’i – you can make your own meal for the plane containing fruits and veggies but must consume them prior to landing or leave them on the plane. If you forget and deplane with any prohibited food, there is an Amnesty Bin on the right as you exit the waiting/arrival area just before you head down the escalator.

TIP-  Streamline your carry-on/personal item. The less you pack, the faster it will be when you have to remove and repack at the end of the screening.

TIP-  Before you depart for your vacation, take a serious look at what you’ve packed and then edit ruthlessly. You really will be surprised at what you can do without clothing wise. If you find you’re desperately missing one particular article of clothing, just head to one of the many shops and find yourself a little souvenir clothing.

Assuming that you’ve followed the other tips mentioned here, you can save yourself some money by not checking luggage. You’ll breeze right to the car rental shuttle and be on your way to the beach.

And also assuming you’ve streamlined your packing down to the bare essentials then you should have room for plenty of souvenirs for friends and family. I generally try to only pack one side of my carry-on bag, leaving the other empty for Chocolate Macadamia nuts and such goodies like that.

Things you don’t need to pack or buy because we provide them in the condo;

  • Hair dryer
  • Vanity Mirror
  • Iron (we provide both iron and ironing board)
  • Yoga Mat
  • Makeup face cloths
  • Umbrella
  • Cooler/ice packs
  • Reusable grocery shopping bags
  • Beach Towels (we provide thick, oversized beach towels)
  • Beach Bag (the sand-free kind)
  • Beach ground cloth (sand free type)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Starter pack of toiletries (soap, shampoo etc)
  • Starter Coffee packet and filters
  • Dish Soap (not that you would pack this but we do provide it!)
  • Starter paper products/trash bags

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Maui Travel Packing List

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Looking for more Maui vacation ideas? Lots of things to see and do,

come on over and visit our Local Maui Guide or Maui Events Calendar!

Maui Trip Packing Guide - Vacation Rental Maui
FREE PRINTABLE Maui Trip Packing  - Vacation Rental Maui
FREE PRINTABLE Maui Trip Packing CHECKLIST - Vacation Rental Maui

Catch A Ride With Turtle Tracks – Kihei Maui’s First Electric Shuttle

Turtle Tracks Maui
Catch A Ride With Turtle Tracks  – The $3 Ride With The Aloha Vibe!

Update: The original owners of Turtle Tracks have retired the business. Per a Facebook post, new owners are due to take over. When they do, we will update this page with new info and their website. Mahalo! (1•31•2022, new website is up

You’re staying in South Kihei but have dinner plans in Wailea and want to try all.the.tropical.cocktails. Whatchya gonna do? Call Turtle Tracks of course!

Call or Text for a ride


Turtle Tracks is the brain child of husband and wife team Pam and Gary Zeemin, and they’re living the dream. Leaving Oregon behind to start up Kihei’s first electric shuttle servicing South Kihei Road from Foodland down to Wailea. They began taking folks for rides up and down South Kihei road in late November but they’re fast becoming a Kihei institution. You can’t miss their bright green 6-seater golf-carts on steroids!

Turtle Tracks Maui

From their page: Just $3 per ride and more fun than Uber! We are Maui’s first and only electric powered public transportation. We will deliver you safely to your destination and ensure you have fun along the way. Happy hour, luaus, shopping trips or just a ride to the beach, we’ve got you covered! We can transport up to 5 passengers at a time in each of our 2 vehicles. Call or text for pickup!

Turtle Tracks Maui

Turtle Tracks is currently running two 2018 Polaris Gems, each of which seat 6 people.  They come equipped with seat belts, and have available booster seats on board for the kids.  By law, all child passengers need to be over 4 years old and 40lbs.  Because the Gems are electric vehicles and battery powered, they have zero emissions and are great for the environment.

Turtle Tracks Maui

Their Turtles are Neighborhood Electric Vehicles and they are street legal on roads that have speed limits of 35mph or less. They operate on South Kihei Road, and provide service to Wailea. Each Turtle can transport up to 5 passengers at a time. UPDATE 8/9/2018 Turtle Tracks is now operating between Azeka shopping plaza down to Wailea resorts.  A great improvement for shopping and quick trips to the post office, Longs in Kihei and some great restaurants in the Azeka area such as Nalu’s, Fork & Salad, Miso Phat Sushi. 

Turtle Tracks Maui

Booking a ride is super easy!  Call, text or wave them down.  You can call for a ride, you can make an appointment for a ride at a later time or just flag down one of the green Turtles when you see them shuttling up and down South Kihei road!

Turtle Tracks Maui

Turtles run from 1pm to 9pm daily and fare is $3 per person. Remember to tip well ! (original prices started at $2 but has recently gone up slightly)

Turtle Tracks Maui

On our most recent trip to Maui, it was prime season in the middle of February. We headed over to Fred’s for the very popular Taco Tuesday and found the wait to be more than half an hour and there were several dozen others waiting for a table. We were hoping for dinner during sunset so I phoned the ever popular Five Palms and was able to snag an ocean-view table reservation but it’s a mile from our condo – so not far enough to justify taking the car but also too far to walk and make the reservation in time. LIGHT BULB! I called Turtle Tracks, as I had just seen the Turtle that passed us on South Kihei road going in the other direction. In less than 5 minutes the next one came along to pick us up.

Turtle Tracks Maui

Gary was super friendly, dropped us off right at the front door of Five Palms and we made our reservation in time! Perfect in every way with the bonus of having open air shuttle that allows you to feel the ocean breezes and catch the beach scenery!

Such a great option if you want to bar hop, try out happy hours, ditching the car, walk to the store but want a ride back with all your groceries, go grab a quick bite to eat, transport to a different beach without fighting for a parking spot!

Gary gave us a few fridge magnets to leave for our guests. I’ll definitely be using the Turtle Tracks shuttles in the future and recommending them to our guests! It’s really just a brilliant business to start in Maui and we wish them all the best in their future on Maui!

​Call or Text for a ride


Follow Turtle Tracks on Instagram or Facebook

Looking for more Maui vacation ideas? Lots of things to see and do,

come on over and visit our Local Maui Guide or Maui Events Calendar!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our Maui Travel Guide to receive the latest travel tips, special events and to find out what's happening in our Island Paradise! * Your privacy is paramount to us. We will never share or sell your information! *
Catch A Ride With Turtle Tracks - Kihei Maui's First Electric Shuttle - Vacation Rental Maui

Why We Love Our Guests

Why We Love Our Guests
Why We Love Our Guests!

We really love our guests! They say the nicest things, and it’s our pleasure to go above and beyond all other Maui vacation rentals. Have a look at what one guest wrote in our Guest Book.

Why We Love Our Guests

If you’re thinking about where to stay on your Maui Vacation, consider Kihei Hale O Maluhia. You know you’re renting direct from the owner, no middleman, and that we’re here for you. Our Availability Calendar is live and up to date. Have a look and see when you can make your Maui Vacation Dreams come true!


Looking for more Maui vacation ideas? Lots of things to see and do,

come on over and visit our Local Maui Guide or Maui Events Calendar!


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our Maui Travel Guide to receive the latest travel tips, special events and to find out what's happening in our Island Paradise! * Your privacy is paramount to us. We will never share or sell your information! *

Chinese New Year In Lahaina

Celebrate Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year In Lahaina

UPDATE:  Lahaina is closed due to the fire of 2023.

February 23, 2018. Come celebrate Chinese New Year in Lahaina and ring in the lunar new year during this FREE community celebration, featuring Chinese lion dancing with drums, cymbals and firecrackers at the Wo Hing Museum and Cookhouse on Front Street. After firecrackers are lit, the lions dance down Front Street, stopping in shops and restaurants.

Throughout the day, enjoy cultural art activities, like calligraphy and knot tying, for the whole family. Presentations about Chinese New Year history and the fortune-telling arts will be held in the Cookhouse. There will be martial arts demonstrations and instrumental performances along with Chinese tea served in the garden. Celebrate the Year of the Dog!


February 23, 2018


5pm – 9pm


Wo Hing Temple Museum

Chinese New Year Lahaina
About the Wo Hing Museum

Chinatown in Lahaina began as one-story shops and housing on Front Street, and as more Chinese were attracted to the area, two-story wooden buildings were built to accommodate them. But the Chinese immigrants maintained social and political ties with their ancestral home and in the early 1900s, they formed the Wo Hing Society. At one time, it was a branch of the Chee Kung Tong (a fraternal society with chapters worldwide) but it is no longer affiliated. The society was formed to nurture the ex-pat community, providing social contacts, support in times of crisis, and housing for retired workers. It also supported the revolutionary activities of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, renowned as the Father of Modern China, and first provisional president of the Republic of China

About Chinese New Year

In China, Chinese New Year is not only the longest celebrated event but also the most important social holiday. The lunar new year begins on the second new moon following the winter solstice and ends two weeks later on the full moon. Today, the new year is a week-long public holiday so families can reunite and relax together, celebrating a year of hard work and offering wishes of good luck and prosperity in the coming year. This tenth year in the Chinese zodiac calendar is attributed to the rooster, and is said to be a year of powerful energy, financial windfall with hard work and a movement toward integrity.

Looking for more Maui vacation ideas? Lots of things to see and do, come on over and visit our Local Maui Guide!

Where To Watch The Super Bowl On Maui

Where To Watch The Super Bowl On Maui
Where To Watch The Super Bowl On Maui

Calling all Football Fans! On Maui for Super Bowl? Want to know where to watch the Super Bowl on Maui? Here are a few ideas!

Join the crew at Pint & Cork, Wailea on Feb. 2nd for the big game.

Where To Watch The Super Bowl On Maui
Image via Pint & Cork




“SUPER BOWL TIME! We got baby back ribs, grilled corn, cole slaw, roasted potatoes!!! We got seafood chowder in a bread bowl, with lobster! Cold beer, amazing cocktails, beautiful wines, and tons of tv’s blasting the game. Going to be a EPIC”

Pint & Cork location; 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr, EW4
Wailea 96753     (808) 727-2038  More info here.

Maui’s Local Dive Bar, Kahale’s will also host a Super Bowl Party with a potluck and special drinks!

Where To Watch The Super Bowl On Maui
Image via Kahale’s


“Come down and watch the San Francisco 49ers battle the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami. Game starts at 1:30 but get there early to reserve your seats. Potluck!!! Bring your best Superbowl dish or try some of the amazing treats for $10.00 per plate. The bud light girls will be in the house, doing beer specials and as always, no cover!”

Kahale’s 36 Keala Place, Kihei, Hawaii 96753.

Tante’s Fish Market in Maalaea will host their party at the harbor.

Image via Tante’s

“SUPER BOWL 54 !!!!! Come watch the game at Tantes in the Maalaea Harbor Shops…Complimentary PuPu’s…$3 Drafts and $3.50 Mai Tai & Margarita plus Shot and Drink Specials during the entire game…starts at 1pm…don’t miss it!”

300 Maalaea Rd,  Wailuku, Hawaii 96793   (808) 868-2148  More info here.

Diamonds Ice Bar and Grill Will host with some Kansas City Aloha Ribs and More!!

Where To Watch The Super Bowl On Maui
Image via Diamonds Ice Bar & Grill

1279 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, Hawaii 96753 More Info here.

For more info on Maui happy hours and where to watch the game, check out our friends,  Maui Happy Hours and download their app! You’ll find more Super Bowl hot spots as well as island happy hours to take advantage of!  Enjoy!

Where To Watch The Super Bowl On Maui

Looking for more Maui vacation ideas?

Lots of things to see and do, come on over and visit our Local Maui Guide!

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