Adopt a Beach


What is our goal? The aim of this program is to collect data while also removing the immediate threat of debris from beaches in an effort to protect the health of the ocean

What is the problem? Marine debris is one of the major threats facing whales, dolphins, turtles, and other marine life. We have been studying marine debris here in Hawaiʻi and know that it is a pervasive issue and our hope is that this program will raise awareness within the local community. We want to empower residents of our island to actively become stewards of our ocean.

How do we do it? With this type of community science data collection, we will be able to collect data more accurately and consistently so that we can identify trends in marine debris accumulation around the island. The data will be used to guide and support relevant legislation and help identify education campaigns surrounding marine debris.

Are you a Maui County resident looking to become an ocean steward? Adopt a Beach!


What is your role as a community scientist?

1 beach for 1 year

Choose your preferred beach or shoreline to steward for the next year

12 cleanups in 1 year

Once per month, you will remove and record all man-made debris you come across

How to join

  • Visit Better Impact to fill out an application to adopt, or sign in if you have volunteered with us before
  • Wait for application to be accepted
  • Once accepted, you will be able to login and select your preferred beach to adopt

Before a cleanup

  • Select preferred beach on Better Impact
  • Schedule your one-time pickup of reusable supplies by contacting [email protected]
  • Head to your beach and start your marine debris cleanup and data collection

After each cleanup

  • Snap a photo of both sides of your data sheet
  • Email it to [email protected]
  • Recycle what you can, and dispose of the rest responsibly. You can find items accepted in Maui County for recycling HERE


Participant requirements

  • Participants must reside in Maui County, or one of the Hawaiian Islands – for now!
  • Participants must sign up through Better Impact in order to reserve their beach
  • Participants must be willing to commit to an entire year of data collection (opportunities to re-sign on after one year). If you plan to take a vacation, or can’t make it one month, we understand. See FAQs below for what to do if you can’t make a cleanup.
  • Participants must watch the training video (above)
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I get permanent marker off my data sheet?
    A permanent marker was given so that your data would not smudge as you recorded. The marker ink can be removed via a number of methods, including nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or any other mostly alcohol-based cleaner. Alternatively, if you have a dry erase marker, these work to erase permanent marker as well by just coloring over it with the dry erase and wiping away.

    How do communicate with other volunteers in the program?
    If you need to swap weeks or get coverage, you can contact other members in the program through your Better Impact portal. Navigate to the “CONTACT” tab and select “Adopt a Beach” as the recipient and add your beach in the “SUBJECT” box, then add your request to the “MESSAGE” box.  Each of you has been added to this “Committee” so these messages will be sent to all emails associated with AAB participants.

    What if I cannot do my clean for one month?
    There is a community board through your Better Impact account where you can reach out to other members of the program to see if they can cover you. If you cannot get coverage – let Shelby know and she will help find a solution!

    What about supplies?
    Each program member will receive reusable supplies (gloves, bag, data collection sheet, pen) to conduct their cleanup and collect their data. If you lose one of these items, we encourage you to be creative and resourceful and search for some of your own reusable items to replace. If you cannot find a replacement, reach out and we will help you.

    What is the best way to clean the beach?
    For marine debris research, we encourage you to use a “line transect” method – this looks like zig-zagging between the waterline and the shrub line as you go.

    What if there are only a couple of pieces of debris at my beach?
    ALL DATA IS VALUABLE. We want to know debris trends across the island. If the trend is minimal debris, that is important and we want to know!

    What if there is more than what I can collect at my beach?
    DO YOUR BEST. At some beaches, you may find that there is a TON of tiny pieces of plastic. Please remove what you can and record an EXACT number, as opposed to “lots” or “tons”. For data purposes, we need a numerical value.

    What should I wear?
    We recommend sun protection and gloves. Closed-toe shoes are encouraged on certain beaches. Please wear a mask when social distancing from members outside of your household is not possible. Beyond those things – up to you and your comfort level!

    Want to help but can’t commit to helping once a month?
    Check out our Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program for an opportunity to contribute to our growing database — community science on your own time!


Mahalo to Our Adopt a Beach Sponsor: Atherton Family Foundation

Mahalo to Darlene Abt for her generous donation


Hawaii Visitor Update

Aloha, We Are Open!  Our PacWhale Eco-Adventures are open for booking as we welcome visitors back to Maui.  Quarantine restrictions were lifted on Oct. 15th for those following the state’s pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements.