Many eco- and culturally conscious Hawaiians are hoping that the state's post-pandemic travel industry will be more sustainable than the way things were before. (Frommer's reported on those efforts back in May.)
Now that Hawaii has, as of last month, resumed allowing in tourists from other states without quarantine (provided those visitors have negative Covid-19 test results), a new initiative from the Hawaiian Tourism Authority seems designed to promote hotel bookings and sustainability in one go.
Called Malama Hawaii (the first word means "care for" in English), the program rewards travelers who participate in select volunteer projects with a free night at partner hotels.
The goal is to "inspire mindful travel," according to the state's tourism website, encouraging visitors to help with everything from "reforestation and tree planting to self-directed beach cleanups, ocean reef preservation, and creating Hawaiian quilts for our Kupuna (elders)."
Participating hotels are none too shabby. They include luxury properties such as the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, the historic Royal Hawaiian hotel on Honolulu's Waikiki Beach, and the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island, among many other options.
Details vary depending on the hotel, but in most cases, you'll need to reserve two or three paid nights at the property in order to get an extra free night for doing the volunteer project.
A two-night stay at Oahu's Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, for instance, can become a three-night stay at no extra charge if you take part in a 2-hour service trip to protect waterways at Kualoa Ranch.
On the Big Island, your fourth night at the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, is free—and you'll get complimentary breakfast—for helping out with volunteer opportunities from the Waikoloa Dry Forest Reserve, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, or the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative.
More than three dozen offers can be found on the Malama Hawaii webpage, with more on the way. Check with participating hotels and volunteer organizations for details, availability dates, and conditions that may apply to the specific hotel or project you're interested in.
In addition to providing a financial incentive for contributing to the recovery of Hawaii's tourism-reliant economy, the program gives you the chance to get to know the islands on a deeper level—and even to leave them a little better than when you arrived.