It is often said that volunteers aren’t paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless. Likewise, by choosing to volunteer on Maui, you’ll reap invaluable memories and that warm, fuzzy feeling of giving back. So if you’re a visitor and you want to do something fun (without emptying your wallet) or you’re a resident and you find yourself complaining that there’s nothing to do, consider these awesome volunteer opportunities that allow you to explore Maui and learn about the local environment and culture, all while leaving the island better than you found it.
Blue`Aina Reef Cleanup
Trilogy Excursions and The Surfrider Foundation have teamed up to malama (take care of, preserve, protect) Maui’s reefs, picking up trash found along the beach and in the ocean at distressed popular surf spots on Maui’s west and south shores. Cleanups are scheduled once a month from 9am – 12pm with lunch and refreshments provided. A $25 donation is requested, which will be given to a nonprofit such as Maui Forest Bird Recovery Program or Project S.E.A. Link.
Maui Nui Botanical Gardens
Don’t expect to see large amounts of showy tropical flowers that many associate with the islands here. The beauty of Maui Nui Botanical Gardens is a little more subtle. The 7-acre garden specializes in Native Hawaiian and Polynesian-introduced plants as well as water conservation, and true appreciation comes when you take the time to learn how the Hawaiians used these plants for medicine, building, clothing, art, etc. If you love nature, MNBG could use your help. Their Weed and Pot Club meets every Wednesday from 8:30 – 10:30am to weed the garden and pot new plants in the nursery.
Friends of Haleakala
Your time on Maui is not complete without a trip to Haleakalā National Park. While probably best known for its amazing view of the sunrise, the park is split into two sections, the summit area and the Kipahulu section, and encompasses over 33,000 acres including 24,719 acres of protected wilderness. If you’re the adventurous type, sign up for one of the monthly 3-day service trips, where you will backpack into the crater to help with native planting, invasive species removal, or cabin maintenance. Participants will need to bring a variety of supplies, but volunteers stay in the cabins for free (except for Service/Learning trips to Paliku which is $15).
Pacific Whale Foundation
Want to give back but can’t find anything that fits into your busy schedule? Pacific Whale Foundation has made it easy with their Volunteering on Vacation program. Locations range from archaeological sites of old Hawaii to some of Maui’s last sand dunes. With several ongoing activities to choose from, Pacific Whale Foundation even offers a free tote bag for three hours of volunteer work.