As our planet continues to near a precarious perch on the edge of environmental instability, people are beginning to wake up to the effect of their ecological footprint upon this Earth. On a larger level, we are beginning to see changes in cultural sentiment around adopting more mindful lifestyle choices in anything from our food system, to our consumer habits and even travel! Does this sound like you? Learn more about this one-of-a-kind Hawaii ecotourism experience…
What is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is a flourishing trend among the modern globetrotter. In a nutshell, this category of tourism focuses on environmentally responsible travel, often to areas of pristine natural beauty. These travelers favor sustainable lodging facilities that hold mindful environmental practices while also honoring the local people and culture. Here are the main tenants of eco-travel according to the International Ecotourism Society…
- Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
- Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
- Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
- Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.
Hawaii ecotourism offers so much more than your typical, touristy vacation getaway; it’s a chance to really immerse yourself in an enriching, mind-expanding, educational experience, while contributing to a positive impact on a local and global level.
How Hawaiian Sanctuary Celebrates Ecotourism Values
Sustainably focused travel may be emerging as a new trend, but at Hawaiian Sanctuary, we’ve been offering en eco focused experience for nearly 10 years! It’s built into our core mission.
“We are a tropical sanctuary of Wellness Education and Ecological Recreation in the spirit of Aloha. We are dedicated to providing experiential education in the areas of health, wellness, permaculture, leadership and sustainability, as well as opportunities for personal and collective growth. “
Our Ecological Footprint
Hawaiian Sanctuary incorporates the abundance of the land into our daily lifestyle practices. We harvest the rainwater to supply our water system, and incorporate solar energy into our energy system. Our entire farm and 44 acre property is organic and pesticide free. Our residential community enjoys farm-to-table meals fresh from the land every day, the leftovers of which are then put into an advanced composting system that we use to fertilize our gardens, orchards, and landscape.
When it comes to our accommodations, we offer comfortable, but intentionally simple rooms.
There is no air conditioning, which not only saves a vast amount of energy, but it allows our residents and guests more opportunity to connect with the surrounding natural environment. (We do have energy efficient fans available, however!) Due to our tropical location on a coastal region of the Big Island, we are blessed with temperate weather and cool trade-winds for much of the year, so massive temperature control ins’t even necessary.
We also have no televisions. Luckily, there is no shortage of local sites to see and outdoor activities to engage in, so you can live out a real-life adventure each day of your visit. Think of it as an opportunity to engage in a digital detox! (We do have basic Wifi access so that you can stay on top of necessary communications and basic browsing.)
Even our architectural structure is intentionally designed to integrate with nature. Our main lodge, kitchen and event space are open air structures, which better acquaint our guests and residents with the lush, natural environment.
These are just a few of the ways in which we reduce our ecological footprint and celebrate our natural habitat. Your average person may find this challenging, but for the right traveler, this is a very enriching and rewarding experience, that hits just the right spot.
Honoring the Local Culture
At Hawaiian Sanctuary we seek to honor local Hawaiian culture by offering classes taught by native Hawaiian kumus (teachers). Currently, we have hula classes on Monday evenings that are open to the pubic. Each week, our interns participate in an “Ohana Circle” where they gather to deepen, discuss and integrate their educational and cultural experiences. Once a month, we also receive a visit from an endeared local Kumu for a lesson in “Pono Wisdom.”
Additionally, ancient Hawaiian farming methods are blended with modern permaculture techniques as we continue to develop the land. This unique combination of practices is passed on to our interns and community members through hands-on experiential education. It successfully puts a wide variety of local varieties of food on the table from taro and cassava, to avocado, pineapple, lychee, soursop and all sorts of tropical staples that are too numerous to name.
Honoring and including the practices, traditions, and heritage that hold space for us in the hearth of their island home, is a key responsibility for participating in Hawaii ecotourism.
Giving Back to the Community
Our local neighborhood is very small and remote. Although there are many things we are grateful for, including the beautiful scenery that surrounds us; ocean views, rainbows, rolling black lava fields, lush tropical flora and fauna, yummy exotic foods, epic hikes and sights, unfortunately our economic opportunities are very few.
The Puna district on the Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most economically challenged regions in the state. When you choose to visit us, you are contributing to a business that invests in the local economy by providing jobs, shopping with small, local businesses. We also provide educational classes and events available to our community centered around health, wellness, and sustainability.
Check out our Plant Aloha class, a FREE agricultural lecture series held every Thursday from 9:00am- 12:30pm taught by visiting and local experts. Or our daily morning yoga from 8:15-9:45am Monday through Saturday available for only a $6 drop-in!
Throughout the lava eruption of 2018, Hawaiian Sanctuary was committed to keeping our doors open through this turbulent time. We kept as many of our classes running as possible, and continued to host events so that our neighbors could continue to gather to find support and stability. We also became a temporary meeting place for the Leilani Communiy Association, who’s facilities were threatened by the lava and closed during that time.
How You Can Participate
There are a variety of ways in which you can enjoy a Hawaii ecotourism experience hosted by Hawaiian Sanctuary:
- Find rest and refuge during your travels with our nightly accommodations.
- Undergo personal transformation during one of our wellness or yoga retreats.
- Learn, play, and grow by enrolling in our internship program.
- Enjoy engaging and educational community events, classes, and workshops.
We are so much more than your typical resort vacation. We are a hidden gem, a hawaii ecotourism experience that’s off the beaten path. We are a co-creative community, committed to sustainable living practices and a and chance to offer you an enriching cultural and educational experience on the Big Island of Hawai’i.