Embrace secure, accountable and aware journey in Hawaii

Alaska Airways provides day by day service to Hawaii Island (Kona), Kauai, Maui and Oahu.

My father’s tree is a cute little iliahi, a sandalwood that’s barely a foot tall. I’ve planted it within the crumbly cinnamon-colored volcanic soil at 2,600 ft up the east slope of Mauna Kea, the world’s tallest mountain (as measured from its seafloor base), in a bit clearing amid 50-foot ohia and koa timber. Dad can be proud of this memorial planting. He was a geologist, avidly eager about journey and the pure world, and supported my very own adventures in these realms.

Photograph courtesy of Hawaiian Legacy

We chant within the calm morning, led by Kekaiokalani Naone, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner: “I ola no oe, I ola no makou nei.” (You reside in order that we might dwell.) This blessing is a conventional Hawaiian planting invocation. On this case it’s for the tree, although I replicate on the way it applies to my father, too. He handed on six years in the past, however my understanding of many indigenous beliefs is that our ancestors are with us every single day—even on today, as I work right here with Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative, the group guiding this planting undertaking. It’s an exercise fashionable with guests to Hawaii Island: The “Planter’s Tour” of the corporate’s midmountain forestland close to the Hamakua Coast is a chance for visitors to assist restore native woodlands on the island whereas they expertise a scenic tour.

This exercise is a modest instance of an idea generally known as kuleana that’s gaining prominence within the Aloha State—a philosophy that promotes a heightened consciousness of heritage, tradition, conservation and security. State tourism authorities, lodging and exercise suppliers, group leaders and authorities officers are cultivating the thought with the intention to defend the issues that make Hawaii particular. They’re asking visitors to the Islands to embrace the trouble.

“We imagine our guests care about perpetuating the distinctiveness of this place,” explains Jay Talwar, chief advertising officer on the Hawaii Guests and Conference Bureau (which is a part of the Hawaii Tourism Authority).

Like many Hawaiian phrases, “kuleana” is a fancy time period that’s tough to specific concisely in English. Kuleana embraces a number of ideas, together with integrity, duty, stewardship, courtesy, custom and respect for nature (and pure hazards). 

Photograph by Andrew Richard Hara

On one stage, kuleana will be illustrated by the instance of taking duty for your loved ones’s security across the ocean—being alert always in or close to the water, not taking the ocean with no consideration, not turning your again on the waves. And if you’re lower than an professional ocean swimmer, selecting seashores with lifeguards.

“If doubtful, don’t exit,” says Jason Cohn, president of Hawaii Forest & Path, one of many greatest tour operators within the state and a purveyor of adventures on Hawaii Island and Oahu. The corporate’s choices vary from volcano-oriented day journeys to waterfall hikes alongside little-traveled streams that plunge down from the island’s volcanic peaks. 

Comparable exercise-good-judgment rules apply to mountain climbing within the Islands. You wish to ensure you carry important gear, thoughts the climate, be watchful that you simply solely enter lands which can be open to you, respect the panorama and its historical past … and revel in your experiences. 

On one other stage, kuleana is about searching for experiences that improve your data of pure and cultural historical past. I be part of a Hawaii Forest & Path tour led by Cohn up a hillside on the north finish of Kohala, the oldest of Hawaii Island’s volcanoes. Right here, the clothes shop takes guests on walks in a small, privately owned gulch in the neighborhood of Hawi. We cross a trestle over the Kohala Ditch, an irrigation flume that has carried water to crops because the early 1900s—and Cohn tells us concerning the historical past of native sugar cane farming. We go to a small clearing the place we are able to see conventional Hawaiian meals vegetation akin to kalo (taro), breadfruit, banana and candy potato, all rising in a restored farming terrace. We navigate dense, darkish stands of strawberry guava, an invasive nonnative plant that has over­taken a lot of Hawaii’s unique forest and that folks work to take away. And we be taught the secure method to method and plunge right into a shimmering pool beneath a small waterfall—watching our footing on slick rocks and checking fastidiously for hazardous rocks above and beneath the water’s floor.

“Superb how cool and refreshing it’s,” Cohn enthuses. Immersing guests in Hawaiian lands and heritage, he believes, helps create context that can enhance a way of place, which in flip results in larger look after the Islands—and an enhanced trip expertise.

Cohn is one in every of 15 group leaders whom the Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hawaii Guests and Conference Bureau have enlisted as spokespeople in movies designed to assist guests perceive and follow kuleana. Ocean specialists, cultural practitioners, artisans, enterprise homeowners and journalists all clarify why the Islands are distinctive, and the way guests will help preserve them that approach. Guests can search for the movie clips on, amongst different locations, Alaska Airways flights to Hawaii. Kuleana Marketing campaign movies can be discovered on YouTube.

In a single video, Oahu conservationist Ocean Ramsey advises you to make use of reef-safe sunscreen. Coral-killing sunscreens are banned in Hawaii, however guests might unwittingly deliver unsafe merchandise from house. In one other video, Maui meteorologist Malika Dudley urges you to be sure to’re signing up for a non-public lodging that’s legitimately licensed for rental. In yet one more, Kauai-based cultural practitioner Sabra Kauka suggests devoting a while to volunteer work that helps protect Hawaii.

That’s what I do one morning at Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park, one of many state’s highest-profile locations. This time, I’ve enlisted within the invasive-species battle towards a plant that in the first place look could appear fairly fascinating. Himalayan ginger’s tall stems with shiny evergreen leaves are topped by engaging spires of aromatic flowers in wealthy yellow and orange. It’s a ubiquitous panorama plant within the Islands, seen in lots of yard gardens. But it surely’s additionally an aggressive plant that has escaped its confined landscaping makes use of and is outcompeting native species in some areas.

“Superb what a distinction our effort makes,” observes crew chief Jane Subject of the newly open, sun-strewn little clearing I’ve made within the woods a couple of mile from the park’s customer middle. I labored on one ginger patch whereas others tackled close by areas. Utilizing large pruning shears, I lower 6-foot ginger spires and stacked them fastidiously the place they wouldn’t suffocate little native vegetation struggling to develop. I yanked out a number of invasive guava seedlings, as effectively, making an attempt to make room for the ferns and flowering shrubs which can be endemic to the forest.

Photograph courtesy of Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park

Subject and her husband, Paul, lead weekly work periods on the park underneath a program referred to as Stewardship on the Summit. It’s one in every of dozens of volunteer endeavors guests are welcome to take part in. 

If even a small portion of Hawaii vacationers took half in such actions, the impact can be huge. With greater than 10 million guests a 12 months—a couple of third of them from overseas international locations—Hawaii is among the many hottest and best-known journey locations on Earth. Annually, journey contributes about $20 billion on to the state’s financial system, a fifth of all financial exercise within the Islands.

Hawaii residents and group leaders welcome the guests who attain the chain of islands; the Aloha State is understood worldwide for its nickname. Aloha means, amongst different issues, “welcome.” However, as Talwar factors out, the that means of “aloha” additionally consists of respect and care, as does the that means of “kuleana.”

Photograph courtesy of Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park

Hawaii is one in every of many locations asking visitors to be extra aware of their actions whereas touring. Accountable-travel campaigns are taking maintain world wide, from Canada to Italy to Peru. The Republic of Palau, a small Pacific Island nation, stirred world discover when, in 2017, it enacted the Palau Pledge that each one guests are required to signal earlier than coming into the nation. This pledge, addressed to the youngsters of the nation, is stamped in passports and compels signees to tread evenly and respectfully. 

Most locations go for Hawaii’s method, which is to advertise nonmandatory cooperation within the hope that guests will notice that consciousness round sustainability and security is for everybody’s profit. Voluntary pledges for guests have been first launched on Hawaii Island and on Kauai in recent times. Guests pledge to be pono (translated as “righteous”) once they signal the Island of Hawaii Pono Pledge (ponopledge.com). There may be additionally some hope that this vow, together with Kauai’s Aloha Pledge (alohapledge.com), might encourage a statewide model tied to the Kuleana Marketing campaign and its consciousness movies. 

“Hawaii touches your coronary heart—and all of us wish to defend that,” says Sue Kanoho, govt director of the Kauai Guests Bureau. “We hope these movies plant the seed for folks to be extra conscious of the folks and the place.”

Kauai has struggled with unwelcome behaviors, akin to giant numbers of tourists encroaching on non-public land or crossing boundaries to entry harmful waterfalls. The Kauai Guests Bureau and Hawaii Tourism Authority discourage geotagging, a follow of labeling areas the place images have been taken, which has been linked to accidents, trespassing and overcrowding. Authorities ask that, should you discover a particular spot, you are taking footage as mementos, and share them judiciously. They request that you simply not put up one thing that might draw 1000’s to a steep cliff, or onto non-public or sacred land.

“Would you go as much as any person’s home, open the door and stroll in with out knocking?” asks Puni Patrick, a kumu hula (hula trainer) and Hawaiian cultural practitioner on Kauai who harvests salt at an historic salt-pond advanced close to Waimea on Kauai’s south shore. Positioned subsequent to a state park fashionable with campers and picnickers, the salt-pond advanced shouldn’t be an applicable space for passersby to easily wander into.

Hawaiians have been making salt right here for a lot of centuries. It’s a treasured place the place greater than 20 households now proceed the annual salt-making heritage that when was a vital artwork for many who thrived within the tropics, with out refrigeration. In response to legend, the goddess Pele got here by on her seek for a house within the Islands, and the salt-making ponds epitomize the superb indigenous Hawaiian life-style that enabled folks to dwell self-sufficient lives in these islands. Some households who enter the salt-pond space with visitors first carry out a chant/track that asks permission and calls on the spirits of those that have labored right here for hundreds of years.

Photograph courtesy of 4 Seasons Resort Hualalai

Whereas the lands, waters, wildlife and different bodily attributes of the Islands are among the many many components that make Hawaii distinctive, the indigenous cultural and religious heritage of Hawaii is maybe its most distinctive characteristic—one that’s straightforward for guests to watch at this time.

The Hawaiian language, as an illustration, is a ravishing, evocative tongue having fun with a fabulous renaissance. Linguistic studying alternatives for guests embody fast recommendations on saying phrases from bartenders at The Olelo Room, a Hawaiian-language-inspired lounge at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa on Oahu. Additionally they embody complete weeks­lengthy courses tailor-made to the numerous mainlanders who spend a number of months within the Islands in winter. The language app Duolingo additionally has Hawaiian capabilities.

Hula courses, as soon as uncommon, are ubiquitous now; among the many hottest are the periods all through the week at Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Heart, the place visitors be taught that hula is a deeply significant cultural follow. 

Close by, at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxurious Assortment Resort, visitors can be part of a dawn ceremony wherein individuals immerse themselves within the ocean and carry out a chant that thanks the solar for its return, and blesses our ancestors for bringing us to today. My participation a number of years in the past in the sort of ceremony, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, on Maui, was the primary time I invoked my father’s spirit within the Islands.

“I would like folks to take pleasure in what I’ve loved for 70 years, in the best way I used to be introduced up,” says Earl Kamakaonaona Regidor, cultural adviser on the 4 Seasons Hualalai on Hawaii Island, and a Kuleana Marketing campaign ambassador.

Regidor’s mom was full-blooded Native Hawaiian, and her steering helped him create a way of kuleana that’s particular to the island he inhabits. Guests to the resort’s Kaupulehu Cultural Heart can be taught phrases within the Hawaiian language, lauhala weaving, lei-making or ukulele enjoying—many of those taught by Regidor himself.

Regidor credit his ancestors for educating him the kuleana lifestyle. His father, for instance, would deliver him right down to the shore (on the actual location the place Regidor now works) and so they’d fish … for only a half-hour. Regidor recollects asking, “Dad, why did we come all the best way right here simply to spend a half-hour?” 

“As a result of it’s proper to take solely what you want—not what you need,” his father informed him.

“Respect the folks, the tradition and the historical past,” Regidor urges. “My mom taught me: ‘Don’t dwell up to now, however be taught from it.’

“She mentioned it greatest if you find yourself speaking about kuleana,” he muses. “ ‘Respect every thing,’ she informed me. ‘Every little thing.’ ” 

Eric Lucas lives on San Juan Island in Washington state. This story initially appeared in ALASKA BEYOND MAGAZINE—JANUARY 2020.

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