Exotic palm trees sway in the cool breeze that somehow amplifies the welcoming warmth of the sun. Sapphire waters crash against rugged lava fields as an intimidating, long-dormant volcano reaches to the sky beyond. Lush farmlands boast impressive yields to create culinary masterpieces. Known as Hawaii’s Valley Isle, Maui, has something for everyone.

In the wake of 2020, it’s a perfect piece of paradise just waiting to welcome you back. And while last year made clear the impact of travel on our environment, it also demonstrated Earth’s remarkable ability to bounce back. As travel begins to open up and we’re allowed once again to enjoy the majestic treasures of our world, it’s vital to consider eco-friendly experiences and embrace souvenirs produced sustainably. You may even find you prefer them.

Whether you’re a discerning foodie, art connoisseur, or looking for something the whole family can enjoy, Maui’s locals are doubling down on producing authentic experiences and sustainable souvenirs to take home.

Stewards of the land.

MauiWine is located in the island’s “Upcountry.” Perched on the side of Haleakala, a massive shield volcano on Maui’s east side, the grapes are cultivated in rich, volcanic soil and subject to rather unpredictable rainfall. The winery was planted back in 1974, though the grapes needed to mature. As to not waste time while they waited, winemakers got busy perfecting their process with a more traditional Maui plant – pineapple!

haleakala-volcano-on-Maui
Haleakala

Pineapples from neighboring farm Maui Gold were used to perfect the sparkling wine-making process while the grapes continued to develop. Initially, the winery had no intention of selling the resulting product of their pineapple tests. However, an ensuing dare between owner and president led to the wine being released to see if it would sell. And sell it did! To date, pineapple wines are their best sellers! 

But wine wouldn’t be wine without grapes. The winery launched with Carnelian grapes, a hybrid variety known to be hardy and therefore a good fit for the experimental vineyard. Today, Carnelian grapes have been replaced by more traditional Syrah, Malbec, Grenache, Viognier, Chenin Blanc and even Gewürztraminer varieties. 

hawaii-pineapple-maui

When harvest time rolls around, all grapes are harvested by hand. This allows the pickers to be picky about which grapes make it to production. The result is better-tasting wine that’s better for the planet too.

You can visit the MauiWine tasting room to sample from a surprisingly robust variety. While there, visitors can order wine to be shipped home, and a Wine-of-the-Month club is offered too.

MauiWine
14815 Piilani Hwy, Kula, HI 96790

From once upon a time to one of a kind.

Thought to be a process started in Japan to record the daily catch of early fisherman, Gyotaku has become an intriguing art form. Historically, fishers could be known for making prints of their prized catch after each day’s haul. They would do this by covering the fish in nontoxic ink and pressing it to rice paper. Fish were then rinsed and taken to market to sell.

More recently, Gyotaku has captured the imagination of a few local Maui fishermen. What was once done as a practical method of cataloging is now a remarkable art form even the most avid connoisseur will enjoy. Using various colors and backgrounds, prints depict the intricate details of an octopus’ tentacles, illustrate the sheer size of the local ahi and reveal stunning secrets of the sea.

"gyotaku" by NoGoPhoto is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
gyotaku” by NoGoPhoto is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Many fishermen sell their artwork at local markets and galleries. From canvas prints, t-shirts, and even tote bags, there’s ample opportunity to take advantage of this one-of-a-kind souvenir. The best part is, no catch is underutilized. The art is produced by small-scale, local fishermen who either sell the printed catch or feed their families with it. Gyotaku art is a souvenir that shares a story as unique and steeped in history as the island itself.

Primitive Hawaiian
Outside the Kaanapali Westin Ocean Villas Resort 
Tuesday & Friday Markets

Hawaii is the extinction capital of the world1.

Many tourists flock to Maui each spring for “whale season.” In addition to viewing the tens of thousands of humpback whales that come through the Maui Channel each year, many visitors revel in sightings of spinner dolphins and sea turtles as well. But what about Maui’s land-based wildlife?

Research has shown that the development of the islands has had catastrophic effects on both the aviary and invertebrate species. More than 50% of these species have disappeared since the 1980s. Believing the key to conservation is enlightenment, wildlife biologist Che Fausto created Advance Wildlife Education.

“I realized people want to help, but they can’t protect what they don’t know exists,” says Che. A wildlife biologist by trade with a natural talent for drawing, Che combined his two passions to create awareness of Hawaiian species.

Advance Wildlife Education produces coloring books, stickers, and temporary tattoos. Each is hand-drawn by Che. His books include facts about Hawaii’s native and endangered species. Sold online and at local markets, it’s an engaging gift that not only entertains but inspires environmental consciousness in the next generation.   

Che also produces jewelry and bamboo t-shirts for sale. Bamboo shirts are not only the softest on the planet, but they’re also the most eco-friendly. That’s because bamboo grows quickly without needing copious amounts of water or pesticides. Each shirt is adorned with a turtle to represent long life, an open “Zen circle” for an open mind, spearheads for strength, and the endangered Hawaiian Newell’s shearwater bird to remind us of their precarious existence.

Advance Wildlife Education
Outside the Kaanapali Westin Ocean Villas Resort 
Tuesday & Friday Markets

Enjoy responsibly

Traveling is the ultimate way to experience other cultures and learn about our world. But it’s a luxury that comes with a particular responsibility to those who embark — a responsibility to be conscious of our footprints, open to new ways of doing things, and accepting of cultural practices. 

In 2020, Mother Nature made clear her awesome power to rebound and rebuild. In 2021, it’s our turn to show her we’ve learned from our ways. To travel and explore all she has to offer while honoring her beautiful fragility. If we do that, we’ll not only enrich our own lives but allow future generations the opportunity to enhance theirs too.

Source: Schuler, T.A. (2017, October 11), Hawaii’s Species: Endangered and Underfunded, https://www.hawaiibusiness.com/endangered-and-underfunded/

Finding Sustainable Souvenirs in Maui