Are you seeking eco-friendly accommodations in Hawai’i? Would you like to experience the stunning natural world of Hawai’i far, far away from the big-name resorts? Leave the wasteful hotels behind and experience the real Hawai’i.

In the era of conscious traveling, regenerative tourism is not just a buzzword—it’s a movement. A step beyond sustainable travel, it focuses on leaving a place better than you found it, actively contributing to the regeneration of the environment and the local community. As we dive into this transformative approach, let’s spotlight the Maui Eco Retreat, a pioneer in regenerative tourism nestled in the heart of North Shore Maui, Hawai’i. This eco-paradise exemplifies how travelers can immerse themselves in nature, culture, and sustainability. Here are five ways to follow in their footsteps and become a regenerative and responsible tourist, no matter where your journeys take you.

1. Choose Eco-Conscious Accommodations

Selecting where you stay is one of the most impactful decisions. Opt for accommodations that prioritize sustainability. Take for example, the Maui Eco Retreat on the North Shore of Maui, Hawai’i on the famous road to Hana. Founded in 1998 on land revered by ancient Hawaiians as a resting place for mature souls. This eco-retreat is built with the environment in mind from the first moment of conception, with a clear vision of the founders Kutira and Raphael, offering a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle built with the lumber of the future, bamboo, and prioritizing nature.

Being the pioneers of creating architectural plans using lumber from the grass family rather than cutting down trees set the tone from the get-go. Their entire land is off the grid, and yet elegantly green with the finest solar system, their water is pumped from a 450-deep well from the volcanic aquafer with the most delicious water; their roofs catch the rainwater to fill their tanks to water their Agroforestry Food garden.  Every aspect of your stay at the Maui Eco Retreat is designed to minimize your carbon footprint while maximizing your connection with nature and giving you an experience of enjoying resting in a magnetic-free environment.

Nature significantly contributes to one’s relaxation and rejuvenation from an often busy lifestyle. At the Maui Eco Retreat, the Founders honored nature by maintaining the beautiful jungle life, its magical trails to the ocean, and the waterfall with minimal impact. Their motto is: Feel your feet on the ground and explore the power of nature with an open heart and “Where your Vacation becomes a Transformation.”

 2. Support Local Economies By Shopping & Eating Locally 

One of the pillars of regenerative tourism is bolstering the local economy. Shop at local markets, dine at restaurants that source ingredients locally and choose activities and tours operated by local businesses. This provides a more authentic experience and helps ensure your travel dollars benefit the community directly.

“Eat at a local restaurant tonight. Get the cream sauce. Have a cold pint at 4 o’clock in a mostly empty bar. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Listen to someone you think may have nothing in common with you. Order the steak rare. Eat an oyster. Have a negroni. Have two. Be open to a world where you may not understand or agree with the person next to you, but have a drink with them anyways. Eat slowly. Tip your server. Check in on your friends. Check in on yourself. Enjoy the ride.”

– Anthony Bourdain

Support locals by eating locally sourced foods. Not far from the Maui Eco Retreat there are some of the best local restaurants on the island. The Japanese restaurant, Nuka and The Tooheys Butchery were created by young locals who need support now more than ever. The fish and meats are locally sourced and incredibly fresh. For vegetarians and vegans, the famous Veg Out makes great tofu lasagna and other delicious plant-based delicacies. If you would like to have catered farm to table experience while at your hotel, consider A&G cuisine, a Venezuelan couple local to Maui will come to you, cook for you, and teach you about their dishes.

3. Engage in Cultural Exchange

Traveling offers an unparalleled opportunity for cultural exchange. Take the time to learn about the history, traditions, and customs of the places you visit. Respect local practices and participate in cultural activities that foster a deeper understanding and appreciation. 

While on Maui, you can visit the Hawaiian crafts shops and learn about their skills from weaving with lauhala, carving ipu’s gourds, how to play the nose flutes, or partake in a hula class. Check out the Maui Arts and Culture Center. Great Hawaiian concerts or Art show that will enrich your visit to Maui.

4. Practice Leave No Trace

Being a regenerative tourist means minimizing your impact and actively improving the environment. Follow the principles of Leave No Trace: take out what you bring in, stay on marked trails to protect native flora and fauna, and consider participating in local conservation efforts, such as beach clean-ups or reforestation projects. 

The Maui Eco Retreat is one of the few resorts on Maui who focuses on sustainability: from composting to using non-toxic cleaning products and only organic products.  All the kitchen scrabs go to feed their chickens. Their flock of 27 hens are fed with a special diet that includes fermented organic grain, chia seeds, black soldier lavas for protein, and fresh greens from their large garden. Those 27 beautiful, friendly, and love to pet Hens roam the land daily for their worms and insects. At night, they rest in their beautifully designed “Gifting Temple”. The eggs are called bloom eggs. A bloom egg tastes differently than a refrigerated egg. Once you tasted a bloom egg you might never want to eat another one! 

When you go to visit the beaches or parks on your travels, make sure to use reusable water bottles and food containers, try not to purchase plastic water bottles or bags of chips as these can easily get left behind and do not support the locals. Use reef-safe sunscreen, don’t touch wildlife, and always respect locals.

 5. Educate Yourself and Others

Knowledge is power, and educating yourself about the environmental and social issues facing the destinations you visit is crucial. Share what you learn with others, and discuss sustainable and regenerative travel practices. 

Get to know the places you are visiting by learning about the local culture, cuisine, and history. Become a traveler not a tourist. 

The Maui Eco Retreat offers educational opportunities through its sustainable practices and workshops, encouraging guests to spread awareness and adopt eco-friendly habits in their own lives. Visitors who meet each other at the Maui Eco Retreat are likely to become friends. Good conversations are forged, and the memories of staying there will be treasured for a long time.

The journey to becoming a regenerative tourist is ongoing and evolving. It’s about making mindful choices that enrich the traveler and the destination. By following these five practices inspired by the pioneering spirit of the Maui Eco Retreat, you can contribute to a more sustainable and regenerative world, one trip at a time. So, pack your bags with intention, travel with purpose, and make every journey count towards a better future.

In the spirit of regenerative tourism, consider exploring the Maui Eco Retreat and how their dedication to sustainability and cultural preservation sets an inspiring example for travelers worldwide.