From helping at a food pantry to weeding a Native Hawaiian forest, there are many ways to help Kauai’s community and ecosystem. And in exchange for giving back, you’ll learn more about Hawaii, and in some cases, get exclusive access to places not generally accessible to the public. Here are five places to volunteer on Kauai.
National Tropical Botanical Garden
Volunteer opportunities abound with the National Tropical Botanical Garden, a network of gardens that includes three on Kauai, one on Maui, and one in Florida. You can help plant, weed and water as a horticulture assistant at the McBryde Garden, home to a large collection of tropical and Native Hawaiian flora on the South Shore of Kauai, or assist in restoring a Native Hawaiian forest at Limahuli Garden and Preserve, tucked into a valley on the verdant North Shore. A willingness and passion to learn about native ecosystems and Hawaiian culture, particularly at Limahuli, is a major plus.
To learn more about these and other volunteer positions, especially if you can commit more time, visit
Waipa Foundation on the north shore of Kauai is a Native Hawaiian community center. It’s a place to learn and cultivate Native Hawaiian values through canoe paddling, restoring a Native Hawaiian fishpond, reforesting with native plants, growing and pounding kalo for poi and much more. Though the weekly Poi Days are now closed to new volunteers, you can still get a glimpse at some of the work Waipa Foundation does by joining the monthly workday every fourth Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
Find more information at https://waipafoundation.org/volunteer/
Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park
On the east side of Kauai every Saturday morning, volunteers gather at Morgan’s Ponds, the sheltered pools at Lydgate Beach Park, to clean the beach. The weekly meetings are both a community service and a tribute to John Lydgate, the park’s namesake, who had a vision for the park to connect the community and could often be found picking up driftwood and trash along its shores. The park is now one of Kauai’s most popular. Join the work and take part in the talk story (conversation).
For more information, visit https://kamalanius.wordpress.com/saturday-morning-beach-cleanup/
This non-profit was founded to increase local food production and access for Kauai. Its programs, rooted in aloha aina – love and connection to the land – include school gardens, ag internships and a gleaning program that harvests and donates unwanted produce to those in need. Check the Malama Kauai volunteer Facebook page for a wide range of volunteer opportunities, from helping at the food pantry to harvesting fruit, as well as non-food related tasks like removing invasive species from hiking trails and a wildlife reserve.
The Surfrider Foundation is a national network that fights for ocean protection, clean water, beach access and plastic reduction in our oceans. The Kauai chapter hosts a weekly cleanup every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. or you can do a solo beach cleanup with your family with an old cloth bag and gloves from home.
For more ways to be an ocean-friendly visitor and how to join a cleanup, visit https://kauai.surfrider.org/ofv