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​What does it mean to be a socially responsible hiker? And why is it so important? These questions come up a lot during our tours, as eco-consciousness is something we’re very passionate about to help preserve and protect our ‘āina (land).

Hiking has become more and more popular over the past couple of decades–not just in Hawaii, but all over the world. A big societal shift is happening that is placing greater value on experiences over possessions. Secondly, social media’s presence: Some of the world’s most beautiful places are now at your fingertips with a curated and tagged photo, which inspires many to want to discover it themselves. Alongside this shift, though, is the necessity to be socially responsible.

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And nowhere is this more important than the outdoors. Maui has over 100 hiking trails alone, with the number of visitors increasing every year. So before you go, here’s what to keep in mind:

Plan ahead

The popularity of hiking is changing the landscape as we know it. Some of the most popular hikes in Hawaii now require reservations due to years of overcrowding and erosion. Waianapanapa State Park along the Road to Hana is one such example, or Diamond Head in Oahu. Make sure you are knowledgeable about the parks or trails you plan to visit by looking at maps, guidebooks, or by asking questions.

Respect the land

Our Honolua Ridgeline tour in West Maui isn’t open to the public in order to maintain the conservation efforts by so many on the island. We partner with the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve, which is the source of irrigation and potable water for many of West Maui’s businesses and residents. We love to share our passion for sustainability efforts and why it’s so important. By learning how we work to protect the natural beauty of the land, you’ll gain a greater understanding of the island’s sacred connection to water–and the importance of preserving it.

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Leave no trace

Abiding by the Leave No Trace principles is simple: Enjoy the outdoors responsibly, and leave it the same or better so future generations can do the same. It’s about making responsible choices while enjoying nature’s wonders, and deciding to make minimum impact choices. These principles include planning ahead, properly disposing of waste, respecting wildlife, leaving what you find, and being considerate of others. Learn more about the Leave no Trace principles here.

Learn something, then pass it on

Our guides are passionate about conservation and sustainability, which they share through stories during our Maui hiking tours. While you don’t have to turn into a conservationist yourself, our hope is that you leave with a little more knowledge about how to protect the natural beauty of our world, and share it with others. Here are some additional tips for how to be a socially responsible hiker:

  • Opt for trails that are less overrun with tourists
  • Wear eco-conscious brands
  • Use biodegradable sunscreen and natural insect repellents
  • Report any issues or problems to flag improvement efforts
  • Volunteer or read literature on social responsibility