Where to Volunteer on Maui

Where to Volunteer on Maui

These days, giving some of your vacation time back to the Valley Isle goes a long way. The fires that destroyed Lahaina and damaged Kula in August 2023 dramatically increased Maui’s economic and environmental challenges, while upending the lives of many volunteers and staff of local nonprofits. By supporting the concept of regenerative tourism — leaving a place better than you found it — you can also benefit from unique encounters with the people, wildlife and environment that make Maui so special.

For more suggestions on best restaurants in Maui, the best things to do in Maui, and the best places to stay in Maui, click here.

Clean a Beach

Where to Volunteer on Maui, Hawaii Land Trust
Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i Land Trust

By now we’ve all heard about the insidious problem of plastic pollution in the ocean and its devastating effect on marine life, which in Hawai‘i includes green sea turtles (honu), migratory birds, reef fish and highly endangered Hawaiian monk seals. Prevent more damage by becoming a “honu hero”  by collecting plastic on the beach with the aid of a cleanup kit from the Maui Ocean Center. It includes a bucket or reusable bag for debris and gloves, along with a clipboard, pencils and datasheet to track what you find. Register 72 hours in advance to pick up your kit from 10am to 2pm Tuesday through Friday. Post a picture of your cleanup to Instagram with #HonuHero and you’ll get a special sticker when you return your kit.

More info: Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, 192 Maʻalaea Road, Ma‘alaea Harbor, Wailuku, 808.270.7000, Honu Hero Beach Cleanup

Preserve Coastal Lands

A person wearing a blue cap, red tank top, and beige pants pulls a large green fishing net across a rocky shoreline. The ocean waves crash in the background, and the landscape is characterized by rugged rocks and sparse grass, evoking serene scenes reminiscent of where to volunteer on Maui.
Photo: Courtesy of @hawaiiwildlifefund

Whether spending the day clearing invasive species and trash, or putting plants in the ground, land lovers will enjoy supporting Hawai‘i Land Trust’s core mission of “protecting and stewarding the lands that sustain Hawaii.” As a volunteer, you’ll get to spend time on land that is not necessarily accessible to the public, and you’ll get the satisfaction of giving back. Register in advance to work at the Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge, which also includes important cultural sites, most Fridays and the third Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon, or four times a year at the remote Nu‘u Refuge in Kaupo.

More info: Hawai’i Land Trust, Various locations, 808.791.0729, hilt.org

Restore a Fishpond

Hawaiian fishponds (loko i‘a) are considered the pinnacle of Polynesian aquaculture. Since 1998, individuals and groups of volunteers have been helping to restore the lava rock walls at South Maui’s largest fishpond, passing one rock at a time while standing in the shallow water. Sign up online to find out about the next regularly scheduled workday.

More info:  Ko‘ie‘ie Fishpond, Kalepolepo Beach Park, Kihei, 808.359.1172, mauifishpondassociation.org

Care for Native Plants

Two individuals wearing masks and gloves are engaged in planting a small plant in a garden area, surrounded by greenery and ferns. A shovel is stuck in the ground behind them, and both appear focused on their task. For those wondering where to volunteer on Maui, this scene captures the rewarding experience perfectly.
Photo: Courtesy of HTA-Heather Goodman

Worried about your green thumb drying out while you’re on vacation? If you’re interested in native plants and want to get your hands dirty, join other “Weed and Pot Club” volunteers at the public Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.  They meet every Wednesday from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., weeding for one hour, then potting plants in the nursery. Gloves, tools, snacks, and drinks are provided, but wear covered shoes and sun-protective clothing and bring a refillable water bottle.

More info: Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, 150 Kanaloa Avenue, Kahului, 808.249.2798, mnbg.org

Walk a Shelter Dog

A person wearing a tank top, sunglasses, and a green visor hat is kneeling on a sandy beach, holding the paw of a happy brown and white dog. The dog is wearing a purple harness and a yellow collar. Trees and other people enjoying their time are visible in the background—a perfect setting to ponder where to volunteer on Maui.
Photo: Courtesy of Maui Humane Society

After the August wildfires, donations poured into Maui Humane Society from all over the world to help it care and feed for a sudden influx of stray pets and to provide pet supplies to the humans who had lost everything. Still, money can’t give a pooch much-needed attention and exercise. If you’re a confident dog walker who can handle a young, active canine between 40 and 65 pounds, take take one out and about through the Dog on Demand  program, which also gives dogs the opportunity to meet potential adopters.You’ll receive everything you need for a fun day’s adventure, including suggestions for the best places to go. Sign up 10 days in advance, or drop in to see if more dogs are available, for the program, which takes place daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More info: Maui Humane Society, 1350 Mehameha Loop, Pu‘unene, 808.877.3680, Maui Humane Society

Count the Whales

A large, dark-colored humpback whale surfaces in the ocean, showing its back and dorsal fin. The surrounding water is deep blue with ripples and small waves, indicating a calm sea. The whale's back glistens in the sunlight—an inspiring sight for those wondering where to volunteer on Maui to help marine life.
Photo: Courtesy of Colton Jones

Here’s a great reason to cry, “Thar she blows!” Every year  volunteers across the state participate in one of the longest-running community scientist projects by scanning for migratory humpback whales on specific days during January, February and March—the peak of whale season. Register in advance to scan the waters from 8 a.m. to noon at a designated location, with tracking instructions provided. 

More info: Pacific Whale Foundation, various locations, 808.249.8811, pacificwhale.org

Protect the Turtles

A large sea turtle rests on the sandy beach near some green shrubs. The beach is expansive and leads to the ocean waves in the background. A row of trees lines the shore, and mountains are visible in the distance under a clouded sky, painting a serene picture for those wondering where to volunteer on Maui.
Photo: Courtesy of @MauiOceanCenter

Did you know you should always keep 15 to 20 feet away from sea turtles, whether they’re in the water or basking on the sand, and never try to feed them or touch them?  You can help spread the word as a volunteer with the year-round Honu Watch. Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund’s Dawn Patrol, Night Patrol and Nest Watch programs also rely on volunteers and interns to protect the eggs and hatchlings of green sea turtles and hawksbills (honu‘ea) during nesting season, May through October. 

More info: Hawai‘i Wildlife Foundation, various locations, wildhawaii.org

Even more!

With the Mālama Hawaiʻi Program, visitors can qualify for a special discount or even a free night stay at hotels participating in select volunteer programs. These organizations offer opportunities for visitors to pay it forward, like beach clean-ups, native tree planting, and more. Learn more at GoHawaii.com/Mālama  

Provided by the county of Maui, Maui Nui Strong helps connect residents, visitors, and businesses to information about Maui County and resources that help promote the local communities. Learn about experiences, services, and products and programs available in Maui. MauiNuiStrong.info 

Looking for more locally inspired Hawaii travel tips? Subscribe to our Aloha Friday Newsletter?

Follow us on Instagram @localgetaways!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top