Travel Tips

Voluntourism Spotlight: Keep the Ocean Clean in Maui

maui 2Hawaii is a popular destination for travelers during summer, particularly the island of Maui. But in between soaking up the sun, driving the road to Hana, and hiking on Mount Haleakalā, you can volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation’s Maui Chapter. The Pacific Ocean is known for having the Pacific Garbage Patch, and now there is five times more plastic than plankton in the ocean.

But there are plenty of ways you can help make a difference and keep the ocean clean while staying in Hawaii. Check out the program below and remember to tune in to Peter Greenberg Worldwide this weekend for more information. Plus, don’t forget to check out our archive for all kinds of voluntourism opportunities.

The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the  protection of marine life and the beach environment. Surfrider’s Maui Chapter joins with other volunteer groups, and allows visitors the opportunity to contribute to keeping Maui’s beaches clean while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Visitors play a significant role to a vital need for Maui’s beaches. Garbage, especially plastic, is poisonous to sea life when ingested. It also traps animals and can remain in the ocean forever. Visitors help reduce the amount of garbage being swept into the ocean through Surfrider Maui.

mauiFounded in 1984 by a group of surfers, the foundation now has over 37,000 members and over 60 chapters across the United States and Puerto Rico. The foundation joins with other community programs and works with visitors to do a variety of activities that clean up the beach, including regularly scheduled cleanups throughout the year. It averages to about 11 cleanups a year.

With Kauai Coffee donating reusable burlap sacks to collect the garbage, volunteers collect plastics and other harmful items and dispose of them in a landfill, protecting beach and marine animals from further harm.

Visitors can also contribute by doing other activities such as net patrol, which involves walking the beach in search of nets washed up from the commercial fishing industry. Nets are detrimental to beach and marine life, as animals can get caught in them and can die.

After the nets are collected, they are sent in a 20-foot-long shipping container to be burned by H-Power by Schnitzer Steel to create electricity production. This helps the marine environment and protects the animals, as well as contributes to a much-needed resource.

These opportunities are just some of the options for visitors to contribute. To find out more, go to

By Kandice Martellaro for