Maui, Hawai'i

Sea Turtle Monitoring & Traditional Taro Farm Restoration

  basking turtles

Maui, Hawai'i
Volunteer Vacation for Adults

Sea Turtle Monitoring & Traditional Taro Farming

Green sea turtles (honu) are commonly found in the nearshore waters of Hawai'i. Predominantly nesting in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, green turtles are found foraging off Maui's shallow waters and basking in large numbers on a certain beach on the island's north shore. Basking is a rare behavior in which green sea turtles crawl ashore for reasons other than nesting.

On this seven day volunteer expedition, we spend three days assisting Hawai'i Wildlife Fund's team monitoring green turtles while they bask on the beach, and conduct beach surveys for nesting  endangered Hawaiian hawksbill sea turtles. We collect data on occurrence and distribution, and note any other details such as tags or injuries.

During the second part of the expedition we immerse ourselves in island life and culture, and we learn about traditional taro farming practices. Located in West Maui's mountain rain forest, volunteers visit a private, remote and "off the grid" farm where traditional management and land-use practices are being revived by a Hawaiian family and community leader. We assist with planting taro under the direction of a taro farmer and cultural practitioners to revitalize taro patches for food production, reducing the pressures on local reef fish.

Hannah Bernard, president of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund (HWF), a nonprofit organization, will lead the expedition. HWF has conducted conservation programs and projects in Hawai'i since 1996. Actively engaging local communities, HWF works to protect Hawai'i's fragile marine ecosystem and inhabitants through research, education, and advocacy.

This volunteer expedition is a wonderful opportunity to help protect green sea turtles at Maui's Ho'okipa Beach, and help restore a traditional Maui taro farm in Kahakuloa Valley. We frequent Maui's best beaches, and have the rare opportunity to experience untouristed Maui. We help Hawai'i's marine life and immerse ourselves in island life and culture, and make positive change. No prior experience is necessary to participate.

The program was profiled in the Seattle Time's article by Brian J. Cantwell, originally published Saturday, November 9, 2013


Our exact itinerary will depend on weather. Evening presentations will be held on our projects, the natural history of sea turtles, the area's marine ecosystems, and introduction to Hawaiian culture.

Day 1:Arrive at the Kahului Airport on the island of Maui. You are transferred to your nearby hostel. Late afternoon briefing and training on sea turtle data collection. Evening visit to green turtle basking beach. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Day 2-3: Morning transfer to west side of the island to conduct beach surveys for evidence of nesting Hawksbill turtles.   After lunch, we return to our hostel. Late afternoon transfer to the basking beach. Dinner and return to hostel.
Day 4 -5:  An incredibly scenic drive brings us to the remote Kahakuloa Valley.  Properties are owned solely by Hawaiian families in this area and entry is by permission only. We meet our hosts and receive a briefing. Two full days steeped in traditional practices including taro farming and fish pond restoration tasks. Learning opportunities include Tapa (or kapa) pounding demonstration, and preparation of food for traditional imu (underground oven).  Volunteers can choose from a variety of tasks to assist with restoration efforts.
Day 6: Morning activities at the farm and farewell to our hosts. After lunch we travel to the island's northeast side stopping en route to visit an outdoor art studio, a gift shop featuring native Hawaiian art and other stops of interest. Arrive at our comfortable hotel and free time. Evening farewell dinner.
Day 7: Transfer to the Kahului Airport for your flight home.

Trip Information
Accommodations are a mix of double/triple occupancy rooms with shared bath (double occupancy with private bath can be arrange at a nearby hotel for an extra fee), and in the remote forest in primitive cabins with shared bath within steps from your cabana. Travel is by private van.



2017 Dates:
Contact:  <>


Hannah Bernard is president of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund. She is an award-winning marine biologist and conservationist, with 30 years of experience and is a member of government-appointed advisory boards iincluding the Pacific Scientific Review Group,

Contact Trip Manager here


 For individuals limited to just a few days of volunteer time, we offer customized three-day programs that allow you to assist with either sea turtle monitoring or taro restoration. Custom programs are available year-round.


For more information, please contact: our TripManager (select Trips & Expeditions)

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