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21 Aug 2023
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How to Travel Responsibly in Maui: A Post-Wildfire Crisis Guide

 If you're contemplating a trip to Maui, especially in the wake of the recent wildfires, you may be unsure about how to proceed. The good news is that tourism, when conducted responsibly, can be an invaluable source of support for our community during these challenging times. This guide aims to help you plan a vacation that benefits both you and Maui's local community.

The Vital Role of Tourism

Tourism makes up more than 80% of Maui's economy. By choosing to vacation here, you're not merely enjoying Maui's undeniable beauty—you're directly contributing to local livelihoods, preventing further job losses, and thereby aiding in community resilience and strength. Traveling to Maui during this time is essential to keeping the community #mauistrong


Travel Advisories

While Lahaina is unavailable for tourism, the rest of Maui is accessible for travel. According to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, "travel to all other parts of Maui (including Kahului, Wailuku, Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena, Pāʻia and Hāna) and other Hawaiian Islands are welcomed to keep residents employed and our economy alive." For more information, visit Maui Travel Updates.


The Resilient Spirit of Maui and Travel 'Pono'

Despite the hardships, the spirit of Maui remains unbroken. As visitors, it's essential to respect local values, epitomized by the Hawaiian concept of "Pono," which signifies a sense of balance, righteousness, and harmony. Embodying 'Pono' during your stay enriches your experience and promotes a balanced, respectful interaction with our local community.



Support Local Businesses: The Heartbeat of Our Community

Now, more than ever, it's crucial to patronize family-owned restaurants, shops, and cultural venues. For instance:

  • Joey's Kitchen: Located in Whalers Village and Nāpili Plaza, Chef Joey has been instrumental in community relief efforts. His Hawaiian-inspired Filipino menu is not just affordable but also delicious.


  • The Surf Shack: 2 locations in Kihei here is the perfect place for those looking to ride their first wave. This vibrant surf school and rental shop is located right on the edge of some of Maui's most beautiful beaches. Grab all the snorkeling gear and a map to the best beaches on the island.


  • Paia Fish Market: With locations across the island, this market has been a community cornerstone for over 40 years. Known for their fresh seafood, it's a great spot for "talking story" with locals.


  • Malama Studio: Malama Studio is a unique retail store located in the heart of Wailuku. This boutique shop is a treasure trove of handcrafted items, local art. The store sources its products from local makers and artists, ensuring that every purchase directly supports the local community. 


  • Komoda Bakery:  A family-owned business that has been serving the community for over a century. Boasting a wide selection of pastries, including their famous cream puffs, stick donuts, and malasadas. The bakery also offers a variety of local goods, making it a great place to support the local community.


  • Maui zipline Company: Wailuku is home to one of the most exhilarating tours of Maui. This family-friendly zipline tour is set on the grounds of the Maui Tropical Plantation, providing stunning views of the West Maui Mountains. Maui Zipline Company offers an unforgettable adventure that lets you experience the beauty of Maui from a whole new perspective.


Experience Maui Food Trucks

Due to the crisis, many restaurants have adapted by offering food truck services. These mobile eateries are not just innovative but also contribute significantly to the local economy. Don't miss out on this unique dining experience.

  • Aloha Plate Food Truck: This food truck is known for its traditional Hawaiian cuisine. They are currently donating a portion of their proceeds to the Maui wildfire relief effort. Their Kalua Pork and Pineapple BBQ Chicken are must-tries.


  • Geste Shrimp Truck: Famous for their Hawaiian Scampi, Geste Shrimp Truck is contributing to the relief efforts by hosting special events where all proceeds go to the wildfire victims. Their spicy pineapple shrimp is a crowd favorite.


  • Maui Fresh Streatery: This gourmet food truck offers a rotating menu based on local, fresh ingredients. They've pledged a day's worth of profits each week to the wildfire relief. Don't miss their Maui Moco or the Ahi Belly Po' Boy.


  • Horhitos Mobile Taqueria: Serving authentic Mexican food, Horhitos is currently running a "Tacos for a Cause" campaign, donating a percentage of every taco sold to the relief effort. Their fish tacos and Maui Wowie burrito are local favorites.


  • Like Poke?: This food truck specializes in fresh, delicious poke bowls and has been organizing fundraising events for the wildfire relief. Their Shoyu Ahi Poke and Spicy Tuna Poke are highly recommended.


  • Thai Mee Up: Known for their Thai-Filipino fusion cuisine, Thai Mee Up is donating a portion of their sales to the wildfire relief. Their Crispy Chicken Basil and Pineapple Fried Rice are standout dishes.


Volunteer During Your Stay

Your visit can go beyond economic support; volunteering can have a tangible impact. Organizations like 'Feed my Sheep' in Kahului and Wailuku are excellent starting points. Inquire at local businesses about how you can be of service; you'll find many opportunities to make a difference. Check out these links below:

  • Kihei Food Distribution  Saturdays 9:30 am to 12:00 noon Join Feed My Sheep this Saturday 9:30 am to 12:00 noon for our weekly Kihei Distribution at Hope Chapel. Our weekly distributions are filled with an amazing cross-section of fine Maui residents who need help right now.


  • Kahului Food Distribution  Saturday 8:30 am to 12:00 noon Here is another location for food and aid distribution  this Saturday 8:30 am to 12:00 noon for our weekly Kahului Distribution at the former site of the Maui Swap Meet (150 S. Puunene Ave). One of the larger opportunities to serve affected residents in the community.


  • The Hawai’i Nature Center  Daily 9:30 am to 12:00 noon The ‘Aina (Land) is rooted deep in our culture here on Maui. Hawai‘i Nature Center's (HNC) Maui campus is seeking individuals to join in sprucing up their facilities. Join us to make a positive impact on the environment and create a more inviting space for visitors and the community.


  • Common Ground Garden and Collective  Thursdays 9am to 12:30pm  Perfect opportunity for young kids to volunteer. Join the Common Ground Collective team in their volunteer opportunity to participate in the harvest, planting, and weeding activities at the CGC Community Garden. The volunteering begins by meeting at the office at 8:50 am.


  • La'akea Village  Daily from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Spend a rewarding half-day volunteering on a farm in Paia, Maui. Join the local community in harvesting, weeding, and selecting locally grown produce to be offered in our general store. By lending a hand, you'll directly contribute to providing fresh, locally sourced food to the community. 


Practical Tips for Responsible Travel

  • Embrace Generosity: Tip well.

  • Rent Cars Locally: Use services like Turo to rent cars from local owners.

  • Travel Sustainably: Use reusable bottles, avoid plastic, and be mindful of water usage.

  • Avoid snorkeling and recreation activities that travel to Maui’s West Side.


Travel to Maui Mindfully

As a local company, we're here to help you navigate responsible tourism in Maui. Feel free to reach out for personalized guidance on how to make your trip meaningful for both you and the community.


Traveling responsibly in Maui during this period is not just possible, but encouraged. Your visit can play a crucial role in sustaining local livelihoods and supporting a community that has faced immense challenges. Take this opportunity to not only enjoy one of the most beautiful places on Earth but to do so in a way that leaves a positive, lasting impact.


Hawaii Life Vacations


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Hawaii Tourism Authority