Paradise Is Not Lost: Why You Should Visit Maui and Lāna'i


(Image courtesy of Maui Visitors & Tourism Bureau)


In today's world, people constantly look down. Our big wide beautiful world has been reduced to a 12-inch laptop or 7-inch phone. The computer or phone have morphed into tools of mass productivity and distraction. Is this technology our damnation? Are the devices advertised to make our lives easier subverted human nature? Once we realize that our lives are broader than chargeable devices, people have an epiphany. Paradise is not lost; it's just a couple thousand miles away from the continental United States.



(Image courtesy of Maui Visitors & Tourism Bureau)


The Hawaiian archipelago consists of 137 islands with eight main islands Hawai'i, Maui, Kaho'olawe, Lāna'i, Moloka'i, O'ahu, Kaua'i, and Ni'ihau. Each Hawaiin Island has its unique history, culture, and nature. In this piece, I talked with Leanne P., Director of Public Relations & Marketing at Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau, to learn more about Maui County. The islands of Maui, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi, ni comprise Maui County. This article focuses on the tropical oasis of Maui and Lāna'i.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Brooke Dombroski / @brooklynhawaii. Image depicts the view of the West Maui mountains)


1. Why Should Someone Visit Maui and Lāna'i?

Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiin archipelago. Ralph Waldo Emerson's philosophy of "it's not about the destination, it's about the journey" ring true as you witness the island's natural beauty.

When you drive on the island, you see world-famous beaches and forests as you learn about the island. Maui's regions (South, West, Central, East, and North) are home to a unique environment. Maui's south and west side are home to many resorts. The island's upcountry is home to the famous Haleakalā National Park. Visitors can explore local communities throughout the island, including the Upcountry and Central Maui. Maui is one of the popular islands because many airlines offer flights from the continental U.S.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman. The image depicts the scenic view of the Waihee River and the ocean)


Lāna'i is known as the pineapple island. Like the fruit, the island is known as a home to a rich history and culture. Lāna'i is the home to two of Hawaii's Four Seasons properties. Larry Ellison owns 98% of the island and wants to bolster the economy for locals. Ellison formed Pūlama Lāna'i to introduce many sustainable initiatives to promote renewable solar energy and hydroponics. On Lāna'i, visitors can explore Lāna'i City to see many mom-and-pop businesses, restaurants, and non-profits.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tommy Lundberg. The image depicts Fresh pineapple for sale)


2. How does MauiNui respects its past and embrace innovation?

When visiting Maui and Lāna'i, visitors will find several educational activities to learn about Hawaiian history and culture. For example, people can experience an authentic lūa'u. A Lūa'u is "a Hawaiian feast featuring lively music and vibrant cultural performances from Hawaii and greater Polynesia (GoHawaii, 2022)." A Lūa'u offers visitors an experiential learning opportunity by tasting the Lūa'u's food offerings, watching the dances (hula), and hearing the stories. A number of the Maui and Lāna'i resorts have at least one cultural attaché who educates guests and ensures that the properties respect local customs.

(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / John Hook. The image depicts Halau member's traditional clothing)


On Lāna'i, one of the non-profit Pūlama Lāna'i initiatives is to help restore the island's native flora and fauna. Since Lāna'i's economic transition from an agricultural to a hospitality-based economy, Lāna'i has been removing invasive species and restoring soil quality by planting native species, including koa trees and Kalo. On the cultural side, many cultural organizations engage with a broad audience on various social media platforms.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / John Hook. Image depicts Kukui leaves being sorted)


Hereʻs an excerpt from the Pūlama Lānaʻi website if it helps you with describing their mission: We strive to enhance and perpetuate the island’s diverse species and fragile ecosystem through game management, natural species preservation, watershed management, erosion control, coastal resources and fisheries management, invasive species control and conservation education. Pulama Lanai brings an integrated and comprehensive approach to protect and manage Lanai’s natural resources.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman. The image depicts the shoreline view on a hike to Puu Pehe).


3. How have Maui and Lāna'i evolved in the face of the pandemic?

When the pandemic began, Hawaii's Governor Ige took a strong stand to ensure the state's safety. Initially, visitors were quarantined for 14 days regardless of where they were staying. Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, along with all the Hawaiian Island visitor bureau chapters, including Maui Visitors Bureau, played an essential role as a team player in the critical ongoing educational messaging to ensure the safety and health of our community, as well as our visitors. We shifted our strategy to crisis management in line with the County of Maui and state guidance.


(Image courtesy of Maui Visitors & Tourism Bureau)



During and after the pandemic, Hawaii welcomed many visitors. These visitors took part in "Revenge Travel." Manuelá López Restrepo, 2022, defines Revenge Travel when she says, "a huge increase in people wanting to make up for time and experiences lost to the pandemic." Many Hawaiian businesses took advantage of this travel boom by creating new food trucks, etc.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Dana Edmunds. The image depicts a roadside smoothie truck)




Our reaction to many visitors was to create the Mālama Hawaii Program. In Hawaiian, mālama means to give back or care for. The Mālama Hawaii Program is where visitors can volunteer to help contribute to Hawaii's sustainability, culture, and natural efforts.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman. The image depicts Kiai Collier of Hawaii Land Trust and volunteers removing fishing nets from the beach)


4. How can visitors help MauiNui's sustainability efforts?

Maui County is unique because, as of October 1, 2022, only mineral sunscreens will be allowed in Maui County. The county made this decision because chemicals in some sunscreens can wash off bodies and harm coral and other marine life. The sale, distribution, and use of non-mineral sunscreens are banned without a prescription.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson. The image depicts a whale's tail)


We want visitors to donate vacation necessities (beach chairs, umbrellas, etc.) to Good Will, The Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Club of Maui, or find a local resident who can repurpose them for family and friends. Visitors can also check with the accommodations where they are staying to see if they are able to find a home for the items. Before giving the items away, it is important to check that they are in good working condition.



(Image courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Brooke Dombroski / @brooklynhawaii. The image depicts Dustin Tester walking with a surfboard)


Through the Mālama Hawaii Program, visitors can participate in a variety of volunteer efforts, including a beach clean-up with the Pacific Whale Foundation. The Pacific Whale Foundation beach clean-up has saved over 77,000 objects from ending up in the ocean in 2021 alone.



(Image courtesy of Maui Visitors & Tourism Bureau)


5. What is the future of tourism on the islands?

The future of tourism is the Mālama Hawaii Program. This Program continues to grow by ensuring kuleana (respecting the community and environment) and providing opportunities for travelers to help make Hawaii a better place for locals and visitors alike.



(Image courtesy of Maui Visitors & Tourism Bureau)





Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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