The Islands of Hawaii
Director of Public Relations and Promotions
For Immediate ReleaseMay 13, 2010
MAUI, Hawaii – In stream-rich valleys, on verdant mountains, in dry, cool areas, along the shore, Maui Nui hosts the rarest landscapes on earth, ecological communities of plants and animals not found anywhere else. The vital importance of this wondrous biodiversity has spurred an exciting spectrum of eco-minded visitor activities that harmoniously blend thoughtfulness, environmental education, fun, and active exploration.
Take Skyline Eco-Adventures, which combines short hikes with thrilling, high speed zipline rides that soar over canyons and ravines. Behind the excitement burns founders Danny and Buck Boren’s commitment to the environment. Company staff members actively participate in native forest restoration, receive paid community service days, and take recycling seriously. In addition, the company donates a percentage of its sales to 1% For the Planet, and is committed to making all of its tours and adventures carbon neutral. Whatever cannot be eliminated in their quest to reduce carbon emission is offset through a partnership with Carbon Fund.
Likewise, other zipline companies on Maui support their island heritage through their business operations. Piiholo Ranch Zipline, part of a local family cattle ranch now seven-generations long, lets guests soar above their 800-acre spread, which also includes a nursery and preserve for Hawaii’s state bird, the endangered nene – the first one on Maui established under the State Safe Harbor Agreement. The Flyin Hawaiian Zipline gives their riders a break during the eight-line course help restore Maui’s natural landscaping by planting a native Hawaiian plant. Kapalua Adventures’ zipline, one of the largest in the country, donates a portion of its proceeds to the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Management program, which protects some 10,000-plus acres of pristine wilderness in the West Maui mountains, home to numerous rare plants, insects and birds, some of which are found nowhere else on the planet.
Hike Maui employs a team of expert wilderness guides who deeply care for the land they engage, and it provides a choice of awesome explorations, including adventures in the waterfall canyons and forested ridges of the West Maui Mountains. Founded in 1983, making it one of the oldest hiking companies in the state, it has been called Mauis “grandfather of ecotourism” and was voted in 2009 by Maui News readers as the “Eco-Friendly” company of the year.
Much of the precious natural beauty of Maui is tucked away on private property. Maui Eco-Adventures has access to several privately owned sites and offers rainforest and waterfall hikes laced with information about Maui’s cultural and natural history. This company also offers out-of-the-box ideas for outdoor exploration — for example, a kayak/hike exploration of West Maui, or a combination helicopter tour and guided hike in Haleakala Crater.
Haleakala National Park descends all the way to the sea through the pristine Kipahulu region, ending at the sparkling freshwater pools of Oheo. Visitors can only reach this rural region via the challenging, gorgeous three-hour Hana Highway, but it is worth the trip. Hiking here is self-guided and rewarding. A mesmerizing two-mile hike to Waimoku Falls, for example, follows a stream and includes two canyon-crossing bridges as well as a mystic bamboo grove.
Steep-walled Iao Valley in Central Maui near Wailuku has been carved by the largest stream in Maui Nui, and has long been famed for its 1,200-foot rock landmark, Iao Needle. In this sacred valley are burial places of the highest alii (chiefs). In 1790, Kamehameha I defeated King Kahekili of Maui at Iao in a bloodbath caused largely by Kamehameha’s access to Western arms. So many died that their corpses blocked the stream; the attack became known as the Battle of Kepaniwai – the damming of the waters. You can hike the cool, forested Iao Valley rich with native plants on your own or with skilled guides from Hawaii Nature Center. A non-profit environmental education organization, the Center also runs a small, eco-educational interactive nature museum, a must-stop for kids. Today, Kepaniwai is the site of a cultural park.
An invaluable source of information on Maui Nui trails and treks is Na Ala Hele, a State of Hawaii program established in 1988 within the Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Its website provides maps and advice for 20 trails on Maui and one each on the islands of Molokai and Lanai. Their website also offers a list of local trail guides.
Molokai is so undeveloped that environmental experiences are inevitable. At the east end, in Halawa Valley, Hawaiian families have undertaken the historic task of replanting ancient taro patches, or loi; they are taking visitors on guided two-mile hikes up the valley to beautiful Mooula Falls. Stone works speak silently of the valley’s 1,000-plus-year human history.
The cliffside trek down to Kalaupapa Peninsula in Molokai is a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sensational natural beauty and compelling human story. Now a National Historical Park, Kalaupapa is the site of a former “leper colony,” where Saint Damien, canonized in 2009, and Mother Marianne labored and sacrificed their very lives to assist victims of Hansen’s Disease exiled there. Visitors have the option of traveling the trail’s 26 switch-backs by foot or on the back of one of Molokai’s famous mules.
On Lanai, a superb wilderness experience takes you to the Munro Trail, a challenging 8-mile trek over an unpaved road to the top of the island’s only mountain, 3,370-foot high Lanaihale. Be prepared for magical vistas of the surrounding red-dirt land.
Of course, many other eco-adventures exist on Maui Nui. Don’t forget the tropical gardens, for example, including Maui Nui Botanical Gardens in Kahului, an often overlooked depository for the plants of Maui Nui, providing a center for environmental education, Hawaiian cultural expression, conservation, biological study, and recreation.
Phone: (808) 243-2290; Fax: (808) 243-2211
Director of Public Relations & Promotions
Maui Visitors Bureau
Phone: (808) 244-3530; Fax: (808) 244-1337