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Malama Hawaii Program: Giving Back on a Trip to Paradise
The Hawaiian Islands may draw you to their other-worldly tropical beauty, South-Pacific culture and warm welcome, legendary beaches and seaside lifestyle.

But the most memorable trip to Hawaii may be the one that gives back.

The Malama Hawaii Program connects visitors to activities that make a difference to the islands’ land, ocean, wildlife, forests, fishponds, and communities. Malama means 'give back' and it puts you in a position to become part of Hawaii, leave it an even better place… and have vacation memories of a lifetime.

It’s about building real relationships between people and place, and enriching your life as well as the destination you visit.

The Malama Hawaii Program has brought together a number of hotels and resorts, tour companies, and local volunteer organizations in a collaboration for the good the Hawaii that everyone loves. 

Volunteer projects range from reforestation and tree planting to self-directed beach cleanups, ocean reef preservation, and even creating Hawaiian quilts for kupuna (elders).

Visitors gain a more enriching travel experience through their positive impact, and may also qualify for perks like discounts or even a free night’s stay at a participating hotel or resort by participating in its dedicated volunteer activity.

There are opportunities to Malama on at least four of Hawaii’s visitable islands.


In Oahu, check in with the community group Malama Maunalua to participate in a volunteer activity allowing them to malama aina. Volunteers will learn about ecological issues affecting Maunalua Bay and participate in removing three types of invasive algae threatening marine sanctuaries in the bay’s nearshore waters.

Get hands-on during an immersive, volunteer workday with eco-nonprofit Papahana Kualoa. You’ll sink your feet into the satisfyingly muddy earth of its loi kalo (irrigated taro terraces) to do the good work of helping plant or harvest kalo, a staple crop of the Native Hawaiian diet.


Don’t miss the ocean conservation activities at the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation. Visitors in the foundation’s Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program head out to Maui’s scenic coastline areas to collect and track debris. Data recorded by the foundation helps to mitigate and prevent shoreline and marine life damage.

You can also participate in the critical environmental work of removing invasive species from Maui’s protected lands, by volunteering to help with restoration and conservation projects of the nonprofit Hawaii Land Trust, which does vital stewardship work contributing to wildlife protection efforts at the island’s Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge.

Island of Hawaii

Visitors can volunteer to help restore and replant a 275-acre lowland dry forest preserve, surrounded by nature at the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative. You may be able to be part of building trails, tree planting, clearing invasive plant life and more, all while taking in the sights and sounds of the preserve’s tranquil landscape.

Adventure seekers interested in mountain hiking and volunteer work are encouraged to look into the workdays of Uluhao o Hualalai for a private eco-tour traversing the mature koa and ohia forests of 8,271-foot Hualalai volcano. In addition to hiking to one of the volcano’s many craters and learning about the cultural significance of the surrounding landscape, visitors are also invited to participate in the group’s reforestation efforts by planting native trees.


You can spend a part of your vacation experiencing Kauai’s verdant and vibrant forest areas with the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project, and participate in a remote video review to help identify the island’s protected birds and their activity and patterns. You can also join a virtual seminar to learn more about the native forest birds and the eco-project’s conservation efforts. Held monthly, the project’s Forest Fridays virtual series focus on the protection of the threatened native iiwi bird and three federally endangered native bird species — the puaiohi, akikiki, and akekee — with a goal of facilitating recovery of their populations in the wild. Visitors can also view prior series segments via the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project’s YouTube channel.

Ask your trusted travel advisor how you can Malama on your next trip to Hawaii.


Images: Hawaii Tourism Authority/ Heather Goodman
Rick Barboza of Papahana Kuaola and volunteers harvest kalo taro

Sloths Named the New National Animal of this Central American Country
Slow-moving, sweet-faced and gentle sloths have taken the world by storm, becoming one of the most beloved creatures in popular culture in the last few years.

Formerly a synonym for laziness, sloths have become cultural darlings, with their famously adorable countenances that always seem to be smiling sweetly, 270-degree, slow head rotations, ability to hold their breath underwater for over half an hour, and a digestive system that takes days to process food. Sloth encounters have famously turned celebrities to tears, and have become among the top requested travel experiences.

Now, two of the six types of sloths in the world today have become national symbols of Costa Rica: the Two-Toed Sloth and the Three-Toed Brown Sloth. The country made the announcement ahead of world-wide International Sloth Day on October 20th.

According to The Costa Rica News, while signing the new law, Costa Rica’s president proclaimed, “I celebrate the new national symbol: the sloth, the friendly and peaceful animal that is an international benchmark for animal protection.”
Another official explained the move “sends a clear message to our society and the entire world, that our social pact with the environment is not reduced to the simple protection of large areas of land, but also shelters the species that live there.” Nearly 30% of the country is protected as a nature park or reserve.
Now, areas around known sloth habitats will be protected, and traffic slowed to reduce harm to the adorable, slow-moving creatures who are not able to walk, but pull themselves in slow-motion across the ground.
The country’s residents see a connection between the sloth’s easy-going, relaxed lifestyle, spending most of its time swinging gently from tree limbs, to the peaceful, Costa Rican ‘Pura Vida’ mindset which focuses on a living life with little stress and instead, enriching the mind, body and soul. 
Even prior to its adoption as national animal, sloths were already among the best-known animals that visitors from North America look forward to spotting on a visit to Costa Rica.

Responsible Sloth Spotting in Costa Rica

Of the six sloth species in the world, Costa Rica is home to two unendangered subspecies – the Two-Toed Sloth and Three-Toed Brown Sloth, which are both typically spotted in tree canopies around the country.
While sloths can be spotted all throughout Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park, Limón, Monteverde, the Osa Peninsula, Arenal, and Tortuguero are great places to start.
But spotting a sloth in the wild can be a challenge. Although they have few natural defenses, sloths can be hard to spot as their fur blends in well with the branches they hang from.

Travelers to Costa Rica are advised to book tours with tourism-board approved, responsible and knowledgeable guides who can easily spot slots from a distance using a telescope. It is important to remember that petting, touching and holding a sloth (or any wild animal) in any way in Costa Rica is illegal.
Instead, travelers are invited to take photographs. And even then, the government of Costa Rica has issued guidelines to avoid cruelty to the animals, support conservation efforts, and reduce illegal capture of sloths out of the wild.
Costa Rica has begun a #StopAnimalSelfies campaign and urges all visitors to practice responsible tourism by keeping a safe distance from any animal when taking photos.
You can also visit wildlife rescue centers in the country, such as Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center, Kids Saving The Rainforest, Las Pumas Wildlife Sanctuary and Natuwa Wildlife Sanctuary, where visitor admission fees and purchases, as well as donations, help sloths and other wild animals return to nature. Extensive rehabilitation programs, where human contact is kept at a minimum, allow animals learn to re-develop their natural instincts. 

In some rescue cases, a sloth can’t be returned to its wild habitat, like “Osito the Sloth” (pictured above) at Las Pumas - who suffered a birth injury rendering his hind legs non-functional. Sanctuaries provide enclosures similar to their natural habitat and offer educational information to visitors about why an animal cannot be re-released, what their diet looks like and typical enrichment activities that support their care and quality of life in captivity.
If sloths in particular, or wildlife encounters in general, are why you love to travel, Costa Rica’s new national animal is the perfect reason to plan a trip to see one of the most beloved and on-trend creatures in the world today.

Start Your Trip!

Photos courtesy of Visit Costa Rica

Canoes have become the ultimate symbol of Canada’s sub-Arctic indigenous people. Living where there are more freshwater lakes and rivers than anywhere else on the planet, they became one of the great inland water travelling cultures of the world.

European arrivals quickly came to appreciate the indigenous people’s mastery of building and navigating their canoes. ‘Voyageurs’ and trappers adopted indigenous peoples’ perfectly adapted vessels to explore Canada. Canoes became entrenched into Canada’s history, culture and lifestyle from its earliest years.

Peterborough and the Kawarthas, between Toronto and the national capital of Ottawa, became the Canoe Capital of the World.’ The Kawarthas translates to ‘the land of shining waters’ and with nearly 150 lakes, as well as rivers and streams, it became the home of wooden canoe craftsmanship in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Brands like the Peterborough Canoe Company became renowned internationally.

Each year, the region hosts events for National Paddling Week and National Canoe Day. But year round, here are four, one-of-a-kind ways to immerse yourself in the Canoe Capital of the World:


1. Visit the largest collection of canoes and kayaks in the world.

Peterborough’s Canadian Canoe Museum has over 600 canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft. The collection spans Canada from East to West to North coasts.

You’ll be able to compare dugouts of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest with bark canoes from Newfoundland; skin-on-frame kayaks of northern peoples to the all-wood and canvas-covered watercraft manufactured by companies with names like Herald, Peterborough, Chestnut, Lakefield and Canadian. 

There are Canadian canoes owned by British royalty and celebrities gifted or loaned to the Canadian Canoe Museum for display, and it’s not only the most comprehensive representation of the watercraft traditions of Canada.

The museum also has watercraft that represent international paddling cultures, including Paraguay and the Amazon.
And the Canadian Canoe Museum isn’t just about the collection on display.

2. Make your own paddle.

Hands-on classes keep canoe, kayak and paddle-making traditions alive and passed along to new generations.

Visitors can sign up to make their own paddles, or even learn techniques to restore family heirloom canoes to get them back out onto the water.