'Voluntourism' takes off with Kauai beach cleanup

Jun. 24—Kauai's popular and heavily trafficked Shipwreck's Beach, where surf forms in front of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa and peels past long white sands to the cliffs at Makawehi Point and the start of the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, is slated for a cleanup on July 7.

The public is invited to participate, but unlike your typical malama 'aina, which is organized by environmental and community groups and relies on resident volunteers, the Shipwreck's cleanup, organized by Surfrider Foundation's Kauai chapter, is aimed at "voluntourists, " inviting guests of the 50-acre, 650-room resort to sign up, pitch in and give back to the local environment.

The concept of "voluntourism " is part of Hawaii Tourism Authority's Malama Hawaii "Trip that Gives Back " program to educate and activate tourists to better understand, respect and help sustain Hawaii's unique ecosystems.

"Shipwreck's is an absolutely beautiful white sand beach, and people on Kauai are good about picking up, but we always find trash there, much of it washed up and getting stuck in the bushes during high tide, and then it gets blown around, " said Cynthia Welti, Surfrider Kauai chairwoman.

"Many of our natural resources had time to recover during the pandemic shutdowns, " Welti said, noting, "as Kauai began to open for tourism again, we created the program to help visitors enjoy this beautiful island while also leaving it a bit better than they found it."

In November, Surfrider launched its Ocean Friendly Visitors Program on Kauai in partnership with several of the island's hotels and resorts.

"Surfrider Kauai's Ocean Friendly Visitors Program aligns very well with Grand Hyatt Kauai's Enrich program, which provides guests with a way to give back to our island community through volunteer experiences that protect Kauai's natural resources, " said Diann Hartman, Grand Hyatt Kauai's director of marketing communications, in a statement announcing the cleanup.

In addition to the July 7 event, the program provides guests of the Hyatt and other partners, such as the Royal Coconut Coast Association of 14 hotels on Kauai's east shore, with opportunities to join scheduled Surf ­rider Kauai beach cleanups, or sign out solo family beach cleanup kits.

Anyone interested in the Ocean Friendly Visitors Program should contact cam paigns @Kauai.Surfrider.org.

"We are definitely working to sign up as many hotels and resorts on Kauai as possible, " program coordinator Barbara Levin said in an email.

HOW TO VOLUNTEER—What : Beach cleanup by Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa and Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter—When : 3 :30-5 :00 p.m. July 7—Where : Shipwreck's Beach adjacent to Hyatt, 1571 Poipu Road, Koloa, Kauai. Free public parking at beach parking lot. Check in at resort's beach wedding location. Debris sacks, gloves, snacks and water igloos for refillable bottles will be provided—Info : Call Scott with Surfrider Kauai at 816-781-5883.