Volunteer activities on Maui are as diverse as the island. From helping to preserve some of the rarest plants in Haleakala crater to restoring a Hawaiian village to caring for a coastal dune, you’ll find plenty of opportunities from mauka (mountain) to makai (sea). These are all ways to give back while also learning more about Hawaii, and in some cases, getting exclusive access to places not generally accessible to the public. Plus, after the devastating 2023 West Maui wildfires, our Valley Isle can really use some helping hands. Here are some favorite places to volunteer on Maui.
Maui Food Bank
In the wake of the wildfires, Maui Food Bank provided meals and hygiene products to hundreds of displaced people. Year round, Maui Food Bank relies on the help of volunteers to help the hungry. You can sign up to sort and pack food at the warehouse or even help the administrative office with organizing. Extroverts will also enjoy supporting the organization's annual special events. (There’s a volunteer opportunity for every skillset.) For more information, visit https://mauifoodbank.org/volunteer-opportunities/
Friends of Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park, extending from sea level at Kipahulu to 10,000 feet at the summit, is where more than 850 diverse plant species take root. Many are found nowhere else in the world, such as the ahinahina (silverswords) or the mintless mint. To help care for these endangered plants, volunteer at the park’s plant nursery at the Summit District every first Tuesday of the month. If you can commit more time and are up for a physically demanding adventure, join the three-day service trips into Haleakala crater, where the work might include cabin scrubbing or eradicating invasive plants.
For more information and to sign up, visit: https://www.fhnp.org/service.html
Hawaii Land Trust
The Hawaii Land Trust conserves coastal, cultural and agricultural lands across the Hawaiian Islands, including the Waihee coastal dunes and wetlands refuge on Maui. One of the most significant cultural sites in the state, it was once home to two ancient Hawaiian villages. Recent efforts have helped to preserve the archaeological resources while restoring the ecological health – it is now a wildlife habitat for many endangered native Hawaiian birds, including the aeo, or Hawaiian stilt, and a haven for Hawaiian monk seals and nesting green sea turtles. Join a volunteer day to help remove invasive plants and restore the ecosystem.
For more information, visit: https://www.hilt.org/volunteer
Maui Cultural Lands
For a cultural experience, join a workday helping to restore the historic Honokawai Valley in the West Maui mountains. Here, there was once a self-sufficient village of about 600 families, but it had been abandoned by the 1920s when sugar dominated the islands’ economy and streamwater was diverted for the plantations. Since 2002, volunteers with Maui Cultural Lands have cleared more than 10 acres of the valley, revealing miles of rock walls as well as heiau (places of worship), while also restoring taro patches and planting native plants and trees.
For more information, visit: https://mauiculturallands.org/participate
Maui Humane Society
Sign up with the Beach Buddies program to take a shelter dog out of the kennel and for a day at the beach or a hike in a forest reserve in upcountry Maui. It’s a great way to enrich a dog’s life, while you get a four-legged friend to explore Maui with. Arrive at the Maui Humane Society at 10:45 a.m. for an orientation, and they’ll provide a backpack of supplies including a water bottle, bowl, treats and suggestions of where to go.
For more information and to sign up, visit: https://www.mauihumanesociety.org/beach-buddies/
Pacific Whale Foundation
Among many projects, the Pacific Whale Foundation monitors humpback whales in the north Pacific and assesses the impact of human activities on whales and dolphins. A lot of the organization’s research occurs in the islands of Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokai, a breeding ground for humpback whales. Volunteer by cleaning up a coastline of your choice and also complete a data sheet on the type of trash you’ve collected, which helps in the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program. Keep in mind that the organization lost a vessel in Lahaina Harbor and will resume operations in Maalaea Harbor.
Learn more at https://www.pacificwhale.org/you-can-help/volunteer/