Unsustainable Tourism

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Tips for Sustainable Travel

The tips below are our ideas for how to travel sustainably and respect local areas, cultures and people. We hope you will use these ideas wherever you travel, not just in Hawai’i. If you have some great ideas not listed here please share them with us by emailing [email protected].

  • Keep your distance from local wildlife – use the zoom on your camera to get great shots. The distances shown below are recommended or in a few instances required in Hawai’i to protect wildlife.
    • Humpback Whales = 100 yards – this is required by law
      • Don’t participate in swim with whale or swim with dolphin tours even in areas where this is currently legal, PWF Research has shown that this disturbs the animals which causes them stress
      • Go Slow Whales Below – reduce speed to 15 knots throughout whale season and to 6 knots or less within 400 yards of a whale
    • Spinner Dolphins = 50 yards – this is also required by law
    • Hawaiian Monk Seal = 50 feet
    • Hawaiian Monk seal mother and pup = 150 feet
    • Sea Turtles = 10 feet
    • Coral reefs = no standing or touching, this damages the reef and can cause injury to yourself
  • Do not feed local wildlife or feral animals.
  • Do not collect or purchase natural souvenirs. Don’t take home coral, lava rocks, shells, or sand or purchase items using these materials.
    • Purchase locally made souvenirs and locally grown food to support the local economy.
  • Respect the locals: no trespassing or interfering with local customs.
    • Don’t stack rocks in the coastal or forest environment (disruptive to organisms and disrespectful of local customs).
    • When driving through a scenic area pull over to let locals pass if you want to take your time. Always pull completely off the road if you want to take pictures to avoid causing a traffic accident. Also, make sure when parking your vehicle to not block access to roads, driveways or other entrances/exits.
  • Use mineral-based sunblock and/or coverup for sun protection, avoid chemical sunscreens that harm coral reef environments.
  • Volunteer with PWF or another local conservation group.
  • Travel with reusables such as a water bottle, reusable bag, coffee mug, refillable toiletries containers.
  • Avoid spreading invasive species, donʻt transport plants, animals, insects, soil, from one location to another.
    • Help limit the spread of Rapid ʻŌhi’a Death in Hawai’i; if hiking use a brush to remove soil and other debris from your shoes and then spray them with rubbing alcohol before and after hiking. Follow this procedure for off road vehicles such as ATVʻs, Jeeps or bicycles as well.
  • Book your adventures with operators who offer educational tours and are certified with companies that pledge sustainable and environmentally friendly tours.
    • Certification companies: Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawai’i, Dolphin Smart, Eco Certified Tourism, Global Sustainable Tourism Council
    • Ask companies that you are considering booking with if they follow the approach limits for wildlife (above)



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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.