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Take a vacation in Hawaii and give back while you are there

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MAALAEA, HI – Maui-based, non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation is proud to announce the continuation of its Volunteering on Vacation and Onsite Coral Reef Naturalist Programs for 2010.

MAALAEA, HI – Maui-based, non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation is proud to announce the continuation of its Volunteering on Vacation and Onsite Coral Reef Naturalist Programs for 2010. Both programs will be offered with support from Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures and awards issued by the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Growing numbers of travelers worldwide are taking time during their vacations to volunteer on vacation, giving back to the places they love to visit, while also meeting other like-minded people and learning about the local environment and culture.

Pacific Whale Foundation brought this new wave of “voluntourism” to Maui. With support from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Pacific Whale Foundation offers the “Volunteering on Vacation” program year-round. Visitors and locals can sign on for at least three hours of volunteer work on a variety of projects and get a free Volunteering on Vacation tote bag.

“The Volunteering on Vacation program is unique in that it allows volunteers to choose from a variety of projects, selecting the activity that best suits their interests and schedule,” said Brooke Porter, Pacific Whale Foundation’s conservation director.

Participants can pull invasive species at the summit of Haleakala National Park, restore sand dunes, work in the closed-to-the-public Honokowai Valley (home to ancient Hawaiian archeological treasures), and more. “The projects present volunteers with opportunities to get off the beaten track and visit areas that would be inaccessible on their own, learn about Hawaiian culture and the local environment, and work with locals,” said Porter.

The Volunteering on Vacation program began in 2007 and has continuously grown in scope and popularity ever since. Response from participants has been extremely positive. Nearly 1,000 people participated in Volunteering on Vacation projects in 2009, contributing over 3,000 hours of volunteer service.

Through the Onsite Coral Reef Naturalist Program, Pacific Whale Foundation stations an expert naturalist at Ulua Beach in Wailea from 9:00 am to noon five mornings a week, year-round. The naturalist provides free information at this popular snorkel site about the reef and frequently-spotted reef animals. The naturalist also provides information and materials to help beach visitors act as responsible reef users, including provision of free, reef-safe sunscreen.

“Given the extremely high volume of swimmers and snorkelers visiting Ulua Beach, it is very important to have a friendly, experienced naturalist present to help teach people how to use the reef responsibly,” said Porter. “The basic information provided by our naturalists helps to ensure that the reef environment will be preserved and protected.”