Hawaii EcoTourism Association

Hawaii Ecotourism Association Logo

When Aloha Kayaks Maui was first created, we wanted to do our best as a company to minimize the amount of waste we would produce during the day-to-day operations. After several discussions and ideas bounced between the two of us, we had an environmental pledge drawn up and a plan in place. Peter thought of calling the campaign GREEN PADDLING BLUE WATER and these guidelines are still being used 5+ years later. We are quite honored to be recognized by the Hawaii EcoTourism Association for our practices and have just been awarded a Sustainable Tour Operator Certification from them.

Hawaii Ecotourism Association Sustainable Tourism Certified

Learn more about Green Paddling Blue Water on our website at You can also follow us on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and TWITTER!

AKM Winter Happenings

Winter Whale Season 2016

We are super excited and patiently awaiting the arrival of our winter residents, the North Pacific Humpback Whales. Maui’s water offer these majestic creatures the ideal location for calving and mating. Maui’s waters become sanctuary waters from December 15- May 15th creating a safe haven for them. We will start offering our Deluxe Whale Watch tours on December 15th and run them for the duration of the whale season. A kayak tour is the ideal setting for whale watching, all the while learning the latest facts from our certified guides. Book Tour Now.

wildlife wednesday

Wildlife Wednesday

Aloha Kayaks Maui is proud to partner with The Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The 3rd Wednesday of the month we have a guest Marine Biologist from the HWF who shares the latest facts and discoveries around our island in regards to our turtles, whales, and monk seals.  Sign Up Today A portion of the proceeds from the day are donated to HWF.

raw elements

Raw Elements

Aloha Kayaks Maui is proud to have partnered with Raw Elements who makes some of the best and most eco friendly sunscreen out there. In line with our Green Paddling Blue Watercampaign we are now offering this product to our guests. The Face Sticks are $15 and the tube is $20. Your sunscreen does make a difference to the health of our coral reefs!

trucker hats

Trucker Hats

We have a limited number of Aloha Kayaks Maui Trucker hats available for a few lucky guests.  Ask your guide the morning of your tour and see what colors we have have left. Book your tour now and make sure to ask your guide for a new lid!

Check out this video shot during one of our Deluxe Whale Watch tours in March 2015:

Something is Happening in the Water

Bleached Pocillipora sp. coral at Makena. Photo credit: Griff Dempsey

Bleached Pocillipora sp. coral at Makena. Photo credit: Griff Dempsey

We love our coral reefs here on Maui. If you have ever been here before you know what we are talking about. 85% of the coral within the US is located in the Hawaiian Islands. This year you may have heard ocean temperatures are on the rise and are staying above average. The current Maui ocean temperature is 81F. The warmer water is good news for many of you visiting, however this is bad news for our coral. Warmer ocean temperatures have resulted in the coral around Maui and the Hawaiian Islands to become bleached.

Bleached coral garden at Molokini crater. Photo credit: Darla White

Bleached coral garden at Molokini crater. Photo credit: Darla White

Coral is not just a ‘rock’ it is made up of microscopic living algae called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae which live inside of the coral’s tissues provide essential nutrients for the coral to survive through photosynthesis and give coral its beautiful colors. Due to environmental stressors, such as warmer ocean temperatures, the corals will expel their zooxanthellae. This in turn leaves the coral looking a white, bleached color.coral bleaching

The coral however, is not dead yet. Corals can survive without there mutual zooxanthellae for a few weeks according to NOAA. Eventually, if the zooxanthellae do not return to the coral the coral will die. Bleaching is a type of coral disease. Just like humans becoming sick when are immune system is stressed, corals can become stressed and sick as well. Corals get sick from human and/or natural disturbances.

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“Why do we need corals?” you might ask. Coral reefs are the cities of the seas. They provide a habitat and food source for fish and other marine life. They also help protect the shoreline by dissipating the power of waves coming towards shore. Lets also not forget their economic value to Hawaii resulting in a direct economic benefit of $360 million a year.

This year the water around Hawaii is 3-6F warmer than normal according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu. Summer 2015 on Maui saw above average ocean temperatures of 86F (83F is normal). NOAA models predict higher than average ocean temperature to persist into 2016 and new bleaching on Hawaii is expected to last through November.

2015 has been declared by NOAA as the 3rd global bleaching event on record. What you can do help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere and use sustainable practices. While 40-60% of our coral is bleached around Maui it is not all doom and gloom. Corals can recover and the most recent update is that some corals around Molokini crater are starting to bounce back.

10 ways to protect coral reefs


Cesar, H., P. van Beukering, S. Pintz, and J.Dierking, 2002. Economic valuation of Hawaiian reefs. Arnham, The Netherlands: Cesar Environment Economics.

Another summer with Moondance Adventures


As Summer 2016 is quickly coming to an end we would like to send a big Mahalo Nui to the students of Moondance Adventures. Teaching our future generations the importance of ocean awareness and conservation is the heart and soul of Aloha Kayaks Maui‘s mission. We feel that with proper education and a focus on ocean stewardship we can reverse the current struggles our marine life faces.


Moondance Adventures is an adventure base travel company that offers a wide variety of domestic and international adventures for kids ages 12-18. This was their 20th anniversary summer and from what we witnessed, one of there best. Over 70 students from all over the country participated in a 2.5 week Maui adventure. During their time here they were able to experience Maui like few people do.


The students were lucky enough to spend a day exploring the worlds largest dormant volcano in Haleakala National Park. Haleakala stands 10,023 feet above sea level and the base of the mountain is 19,000+ feet of water. Thats right, Haleakala is actually a 29,000+ foot mountain! On a clear day you can see the massive volcanoes Of the Big Island.


With Moondance Adventures having a focus on community outreach the students were lucky enough to work with The Hawaii Wildlife Fund. HWF is a non-profit organization that has been doing some amazing work with turtles, seals and wildlife restoration. After a few days of getting their hands dirty, it was time to hit the ocean!


Maui has some of the most user friendly waters in the world for, what some say is the fastest growing waterspout in the world, Stand Up Paddle boarding. The students got to hone in their skills in the calm waters of Makena Landing with Aloha SUP Maui. Team races, SUP yoga and turtle spotting became the name of the game for these excited students.


Next up for these lucky students…..kayak/snorkel. With the help of Aloha Kayaks Maui, the students got the opportunity to spend several hours paddling in the heart of Turtle Town. They got to paddle to beautiful remote coral reefs and explore the underwater world from right off the side of their boats. They would snorkel with turtles then load back in their boats and paddle to another spot.


After a few days of having to use their own arm and leg strength, it was time to let an engine do the work. The students met the Captain and crew of The Redline Rafting boat. The is a small group power boat that explores many of Maui’s “off the beaten path” areas. With twin motors and a comfortable ride, the students were able to hit several snorkel spots. Highlight for most was the “Elevator Drop” on Molokini’s back wall.


The students rounded out their trip spending 2 days “Hanging Ten” on surfboards. Being the birthplace of surfing, it was fun watching the students ripping up the south shore of Maui. The final activity for these guys was a morning zip lining the canopy forest of upcountry Maui. Pi’iholo Zipline provided a safe and educational experience for these lucky students of Moondance Adventures.


We are very thankful for companies that offer young adults amazing opportunities to explore the world and see life outside of their hometown. For more information about Moondance Adventures or any of the outfitters mentioned, feel free to give us a call at 808-270-3318.

What is a few inches a year?

What does climate change mean to the average person? This is a question that has two opposing beliefs hidden behind a phrase as simple as “Global Warming.” To many this is just a phrase that politicians throw around to help mold their agendas into realities. To this demographic the phrase is considered to be a negative one. Then you have the people who believe in it and are hard at work trying to figure out what to do with the ever changing effects of “Global Warming.” To this demographic the phrase is consider to be a negative one as well.

A resent study has come out this week that estimates that the sea level around the state of California will rise close to half a foot in the next 18 years. The number grows greatly if you look out to the next 80-100 years. The results of this kind of rise will result in a great destruction of hundreds of beachfront homes, highways, and other man made coastal attractions. One good thing is that we as a society along with plants and animals will adapt and move inland a little bit and keep living life somewhat in the same manor. Check out the link below to read more about the prediction of California’s sea level rise.

New Study about California’s sea level rise

Lets now look at areas where there is no inland to run to when the ocean slowly takes over. There are atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that sit no higher than 3-4 feet above sea level. Now I know what you are think, “its just a sandy patch in the middle of the ocean, whats the big deal?” Some of these low lying atolls are part time homes to estimated numbers of 14 million sea birds. As the sea level rises the habitat for these birds will not be able to sustain them for their needs. Therefore the population of tropical sea birds could be decimated. Check out the link below to read more about the effects that sea level rise will have on remote atolls in the Pacific.

The effects sea level rise will have on the small atolls of the Pacific

The images we have of remote tropical islands covered in coconuts and palm trees will bring a smile to most everyones face. Not all remote tropical islands are considered paradise that bring us those warm fuzzy feelings. Take Carteret Islands for example in the South Pacific. For the last two decades the islanders have been building seawalls and planting trees to try slowing down the ever persistent rise of the ocean from taking over their homes and farms. In this case of David and Goliath it looks like Goliath will be the victor. The islands are going to be fully submerged as soon as 2015 and most residents have been relocated to near by islands that sit on higher ground. To learn more about the Carteret Islands check out the link below.

Carteret Islands

Not sure what the solution to such a major problem is but I know it is more than any politician, activist, or bird lover can single handedly fix. This is a global problem that will take the masses to fix. What can we do locally that will compound into global impact? How can each of us change our day to day lives to help minimize our global impact? Is it too late? These are questions that we have to answer for ourselves and make adjustments accordingly. Check out the link below to see a few things we as a company are doing to try minimizing our impact as a company.

Green Paddling Blue Water



While Peter stayed back and ran our trips, I snuck off to the amazing island of Kaho’olawe as a chaperone for a local school group. This was anything but your average end of the year 6th grade school trip as the island was bombed heavily for 50 years as a target island for the US military. Needless to say the potential for disaster was forever present as we helped plant 400 native plants to the otherwise barren island with seven 6th grade students.


The history of the island dates back to the first contact of the Hawaiian people (450-1000A.D.) The island was used by the ocean travelers to learn how to read the currents and stars for navigating the massive Pacific Ocean. The early voyages to Tahiti would start along the shores of Kaho’olawe and follow the currents to the south Pacific. The island did not host a very large native Hawaiian population, as fresh water was not as plentiful. The island holds the 2nd largest basalt quarry in Hawaii which was used by the native Hawaiians for making stone tools. During the war of Kamokuhi and in a failed attempt to conquer Maui the ruler of the Big Island Kalaniʻōpuʻu raided the island. Kaho’olawe was part of one of Maui’s moku or land divisions.


As the times were changing with the introduction of the western world (1778) so was the landscape of the peoples traditions and cultures. The missionaries who arrived in the 1820’s made many changes to the way the Hawaiian people operated. With the encouragement of the missionaries punishment for crimes went from death sentencing to prison sentencing. During the rule of Kamehameha III the island became a prison island for the men who had been exiled. Lack of freshwater and limited food source caused many prisoners to starve to death.


In 1918 the island was leased to a rancher from Wyoming with the help of the Baldwin family of Maui for a cattle ranch. The lease was for 21 years and during that time cattle and other animals grazed the island bare. With limited water and grazing opportunity the last cattle was removed off the island in 1941 and the ranching on Kaho’olawe had subsided.


In December of 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy invaded Pearl Harbor on Oahu and the island was placed under martial law by the US government. The island that once held such high cultural significants had become the training grounds for the military. The following 50 years was filled with endless shelling and bombing of the island. In 1965 Operation Sailors Hat was performed on Kaho’olawe, which was a 500 ton TNT detonation to see what the results would be to naval ships.

In 1976 a group of Hawaiian activists and community supporters created a group called the Protect Kaho’olawe Ohana (PKO) and filed law suits to have the bombing stopped. For the next few years there were protests and sit-ins to express PKO’s commitment to protecting the islands cultural resources. In 1981 the island was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Although the island had been placed on the registry the shelling continued until 1990 when President Bush ended all live fire training. In 1994 the island was handed back to Hawaii with a major restoration project to clear as much unexploded ordinance as they could until 2003. About 75% of the island had been clear in some form of unexploded ordinance before the government contracted ended.


Today the island is under a major plant restoration project which is headed by the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) which has been responsible for the replanting of over 400,000 native plants to the island. The commission will oversee the restoration project until the island is handed to a Native Hawaiian Sovereignty sometime in the future. The commission is currently doing plant restoration projects, cultural studies, and marine based surveys.


The next time you find yourself on Maui, Lanai, or Molokai and look across the channel at the “red” looking island, take a little bit of time to reflect on all that has happened to the island. With the efforts of KIRC, PKO, and volunteers hopefully the island will make a full circle and will play another key role in the Native Hawaiian practices. The restoration of Kaho’olawe is running parallel to the 3rd major renaissance period for the people of Hawaii which is now. Although not Hawaiian, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to give back to the people of Hawaii. Mahalo Nui Loa!

More reasons to join our Green Paddling Blue Water Campaign

Once again we find ourselves failing to update our blog as often as we had promised, for that we apologize. We have had a few great months and we are very thankful for those of you who have helped to support Aloha Kayaks Maui. We are gearing up for the summer season, which is right around the corner.


The whales have pretty much left for their feeding grounds back in Alaska. This winter was filled with some of the best whale watching we have ever experienced. From singer whales sitting under our boats to multiple breaches 100 yards in front of us! Some days we were lucky enough to capture the moments with our cameras and some days we wished we had our cameras. Need not worry if you missed this year’s whale season, you can always come out with us next year. The lack of whale sightings has been replaced by several days of paddling (and one day of snorkeling) with Hawaiian Spinner dolphins, a few monk seal sightings and gliding manta rays. Oh yeah and the ever present Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles!

Our Green Paddling Blue Water campaign has really become the heart and soul of Aloha Kayaks Maui. We feel strongly about doing our part to ensure our future generations will have a clean, healthy ocean to share with their kids. Reusable stainless steel water bottles, earth friendly cleaning agents, and daily educational tours are a few ways we are working to better our precious ecosystems. If we could get every activity company to make a few simple changes in waste production our ocean and island would be much healthier. The reusable water bottles should be the first step. Check out the article below and see what plastic waste is doing to our oceans and ultimately our health. Share the article and join our Green Paddling Blue Water campaign to help do your part to right this issue.

March is the Month of Trash!

During the month of March Aloha Kayaks Maui will be collecting and weighing the amount of landfill waste we as a company create. As part of our Green Paddling Blue Water campaign we are really trying to keep our landfill waste to a minimum and we are trying to get a tangible number for our monthly production of trash. At the end of the month we will weigh the amount of trash we have created. In addition, as we are continually doing beach sweeps for trash, we will also collect and weigh the amount of trash we find on the beach. We think you will be equally surprised to see how little trash our company creates and how much trash is found on the beach. Check back often for photos and weight totals.

Whales are Everywhere!




What an amazing whale season we have had so far in 2012! As we are quickly entering the peak season for the annual mating and calving process of the humpbacks, it is hard to not see whales while looking out into the ocean in any direction.

On any given day you can look out and see a mom teaching her calf how to slap a fin, a pair of courting whales diving in complete harmony with one another, or a competition pod of males chasing a lone female. There are very few places in the world where the access to this process is any easier than on the beautiful island of Maui. A simple drive from Lahaina to Kihei can have the beginner whale watcher counting up to 15 different whales along the scenic drive. What typically would be a 40 minute drive can sometimes take close to an hour as people slow to a crawl in hopes of seeing that whale breach one more time, 400 yards from the road. A short paddle from the shoreline can have you completely surrounded by multiple layers of whales all with their own tasks. These beautiful creatures are the very reason so many people return to our island during the winter months year after year. Each trip is fill with a slight bit of expectation that you may get to relive that magical moment when a whale breached right off the front of your kayak or you saw a calf doing tail slaps as you were driving down the road. The excitement is contagious and keeps us wanting more each day as we head out into the ocean in search of our moment.

Come check out a Whale Watching Tour with Aloha Kayaks Maui and experience this excitement firsthand. or call 808-270-3318

Recent Newspaper Article!

This article was written days before Aloha Kayaks Maui opened our doors, therefore the contact info, company name and trip info are a little different than our trips. Enjoy the read!

Turtle encounters offer unforgettable rewards
By Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 22, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 01:39 a.m. HST, Jan 22, 2012

To the blind man immersed in an otherwise silent undersea world, the sounds were like castanets in a lively paso doble.

“What is that?” he asked Griff Dempsey, the guide for his South Pacific Kayaks tour, when he emerged from his dip below the waves off the southern coast of Maui. “Where is it coming from?”

When he heard the man’s description, Dempsey had an inkling of what it was, but, intrigued, he decided to check it out for himself. “It never ceases to amaze me — how in tune with nature people become when they lose one of their senses,” Dempsey said. “It took me longer to hear the clicking sounds than my blind guest, but eventually I heard them, too. As time passed they got louder. It turned out they were from a huge pod of spinner dolphins that came and swam with us for about half an hour!”

Dempsey used the exhilarating experience to discuss echolocation with his group of kayakers. That sensory system enables dolphins to determine the direction and distance of objects through the echo of high-pitched sounds that they emit. “The frequency travels through the water,” Dempsey said, “and it’s very useful when the dolphins are hunting and navigating.”

Born and raised in South Carolina, in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in Spartanburg, Dempsey took to the water at a young age. “I grew up by Lake Summit,” he said. “In Hawaii, kids ride on the front of their dad’s longboard. When I was young, I rode on the front of my dad’s water skis. During the summer my family swam, fished and went canoeing, sailing and water-skiing on the lake.”

In 1994, while attending Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, near the resort area of Myrtle Beach, Dempsey discovered surfing. He’d wake up at sunrise to drive along the coast in search of the best waves. In order to have as many free days as possible to enjoy his newfound passion, he scheduled all his classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“The ocean became another great way for me to connect with nature,” Dempsey said. “It was where I could relax and forget about the problems and stresses in my life. It’s still a haven for me. Today I’m in the ocean every day, and no two days are alike. I’ll never come close to mastering the ocean; I respect it too much to think that I have. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting the outcomes of certain tides, swells and weather, but the ocean will be a lifelong study.”

On South Pacific Kayaks’ Turtle Reef Tour, Dempsey has introduced the wonders of the sea to everyone from avid water lovers to suburbanites who’ve never been in the ocean before. Guests paddle 2.5 miles around Makena Bay — snorkeling at two spots and admiring views encompassing Hale-akala Volcano, Molokini islet, Lanai, Kahoolawe, an ancient heiau, 180-year-old Keawalai Congregational Church, multimillion-dollar homes and the vast Pacific.
Below the waves lie coral castles and myriad reef life of all shapes, sizes and colors. “The beauty of kayaking is we’re able to take people to areas that the large boats can’t get to,” Dempsey said. “All we need is a sandy floor to set our anchors, whereas the big boats need moorings.”

Among the creatures tourgoers might see are eels, dolphins, rays, octopuses, cleaner wrasses, puffer fish, ulua (crevalle), kumu (goatfish) and, of course, the tour’s namesake: the endangered honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtle.
“We guides have names for the turtles that we see regularly,” Dempsey said. “One that stands out is Tripod. He’s a full-size male that has only three full flippers. He gets along fine with them, but his missing back flipper suggests he escaped from a predator in the nick of time!”

Throughout the three-hour excursion, Dempsey emphasizes the importance of being good stewards and protecting the fragile ocean environment. He advises participants not to stand or walk on the reefs, break and take coral, feed the marine animals or get closer than four feet to them.

“After all, we’re visiting their home,” he said. “It’s important to remember we’re observers, not intruders. During this time of year, we have the most incredible seats to see the humpbacks. By law we’re not allowed to go within 100 yards of them, but they can come to us. As gigantic as they are, they’re gentle, serene and often curious. We’ve seen 45-foot whales swim right under our kayaks!”

South Maui’s calm ocean conditions, excellent visibility and perennial sunshine make the Turtle Reef Tour a year-round option for visitors. Dempsey gets the most satisfaction escorting clients who can’t swim or who have a fear of the ocean.

“I can tell right away if someone is overly nervous or scared,” he said. “It’s great to see them transform as they swim beside a turtle. All of a sudden, they’re not scared anymore. They’re thrilled, they’re happy and the positive energy and confidence they exude is contagious. The people who come on the tour with the most fears leave with the most rewards.”

Dempsey believes teaching visitors how to enjoy the ocean without harming it is key. He hopes they will then go on to help protect the sea and its inhabitants by sharing what they learned.
“Think of knowledge as a stone,” Dempsey said. “Throw that stone into a still body of water and watch the ripples that form. Each concentric circle gets bigger and wider. It’s the perfect metaphor for the many lives that can be touched by one powerful message.”



>> Check-in location: Makena Landing, Makena, Maui. Directions: From Wailea Resort, go south on Wailea Alanui Street. This road turns into Makena Alanui after crossing Kuakahi Street. Go about two miles, then turn right on Makena Road. Makena Landing is less than a half-mile down this road on the right.
>> Check-in time: 7 a.m.
>> Cost: $65 per person, including snacks and beverages; 25 percent discount for ages 5 to 9 (minimum age is 5). Kamaaina 10 and older receive a 10 percent discount.
>> Phone:
>> Email:
>> Website:
>> Notes: Wear casual, comfortable clothes (including a swimsuit) that you don’t mind getting wet. Bring sunscreen, a hat and beach towel. South Pacific Kayaks also offers hikes; surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding lessons; and five other kayaking tours. Through April, if they’re lucky, kayakers may see humpback whales, which winter in Hawaii. The company can also arrange customized tours.

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