Saving Turtles in Hawaii

Green sea turtles (called honu locally) are found in the nearshore waters of the Hawai'ian Islands. Predominantly nesting in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, green turtles can be found off Maui's shallow waters, and basking in large numbers on specific beaches on the island's popular north shore. Basking is a rare behavior in which green sea turtles crawl ashore for reasons other than nesting.

In collaboration with local partner groups, travellers can directly support NGO-directed intiatives. These adventures offer a mix of natural history excursions with several days volunteering to help field biologists with wildlife monitoring and to assist community leaders with a variety of field tasks. Experiences provide an opportunity to help threatened wildlife and further efforts towards ecological health and sustainability.

You'll collect data on occurrence and distribution, and note any other details such as tags or injuries. Another important objective is to educate the public about green turtles at the basking beach site and to introduce proper observation policies  to avoid disturbance.

You'll have time for coral reef snorkeling in Maui's clear waters, for bird watching, and for exploring historical towns such as Lahaina and Pa'ia. February is the peak of the season when humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian waters to mate and calve, and there will be free time to enjoy a whale watching excursion.

This volunteer expedition is a wonderful opportunity to contribute to conservation science, 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. You'll help Hawai'i's marine life and immerse yourself in island life and culture, all while making a positive change. No prior experience is necessary to participate, and the only helpful skill is a "can do" attitude.

Expect 6 day costs to be in/around $1200 USD (may vary with currency fluctuation), which helps to cover your accommodation, most meals, local transportation, training and guides.

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What to Expect?

The exact itinerary will depend on weather and turtle nesting activity. There will be evening presentations on the projects, the natural history of sea turtles, the area's marine ecosystems, and introductions to Hawaiian culture.

Day 1: Arrive at the Kahului Airport on the island of  Maui. Transfer to our project accommodations, Late afternoon briefing, and visit to green turtle basking beach. Dinner and overnight.

Day 2:  After breakfast, training session for in-water data collection. Group transfers to south or west side of the island for snorkel check out and to explore some of Maui’s shallow coral reefs.  After lunch, you will return to the beach and start your first snorkel survey. Late afternoon return to accommodation.  

Day 3-5:  Each day begins with a morning patrol for nesting hawksbill turtles on Maui’s south or west side.  Late morning we continue our work on the lee side of the island for in-water turtle transects and coral reef monitoring. We return to lodging for lunch. Late afternoons and evenings alternate between monitoring the green turtle basking beach and the hawksbill nesting beaches.

Day 6: Transfer to the Kahului Airport for your flight home, or explore Maui on your own.

Accommodations are a mix of double occupancy rooms with private bath, and in the remote forest in primitive cabins with shared bath within steps from your cabana. Travel is by private van. Note that only the July trips include monitoring nesting hawksbill turtles.

  • Program ID: # 2548
  • duration:
    Less than 1 Week
  • location:
    United States
    20° 53' 14.568" N, 156° 30' 16.5096" W
  • Fitness level:
    Light Impact
    Moderately Fit
    Very Fit
  • Closest Airport:
  • Costs From:
    $1000 to $1500
  • Program Type:
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
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