Sun, Service and Whales, Maui

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14401A, Service/ Volunteer


  • Work in a peaceful, history-filled remote Maui valley
  • Share the company of local Hawaiians, hearing about local culture and traditions
  • Swim, snorkel, hike, and watch whales 


  • Lodging in an oceanfront condominium
  • All meals (except one dinner), featuring many local ingredients
  • All on-trip transportation including airport transfers


DatesJan 19–26, 2014
StaffLynne Simpson

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Trip Overview

The Trip

Enjoy the tenth year of service on western Maui. During our five days of service, we will work both in the Honokawai Valley of western Maui and with a representative from the Surfrider Foundation. Our three days in the remote Honokawai Valley will include weeding, planting, and clearing invasive species. With Les Potts, of the Surfrider Foundation, we will be picking up trash, auto parts, old fences and, literally 'nuts and bolts.' Les says “if the land is clean of debris, it is a happy land."

On western Maui, the Honokawai Valley is the site of a farming community that was active between 1400 and the early 1900s. The particular area where we will work was once considered the "taro basket" of the Kaanapali region. This is a historical site that bears witness to the scientific, engineering, and cultural competence of the original Hawaiian community. This outing will mark our tenth year of participation in this project.

Honokawai Valley is now protected through a Maui Cultural Land Trust, which works to safeguard historic and archaeological sites on the island. This valley is increasingly becoming an educational site, where visitors can learn about ancient Hawaiians' sustainable systems for food, clothing, and shelter. While currently not open to the public, the hope is that this educational site will open in the near future. Puanani Lindsey will be our 'sponsor' when we are working in the valley. On Saturday, we will be joined in the Honokawai Valley by “valley regulars”; mainly local Sierra Club members who contribute their work and aloha each Saturday. What a wonderful opportunity to meet and ‘talk story’ with Maui residents, as we work side by side.

On our one non-service day, we will go out on a Zodiac to observe the migrating humpback whales, and snorkel and swim in a protected cove. These magnificent creatures come to the Islands between November and April to breed, give birth, and rest before returning to Alaskan waters to feed during the summer months. Seeing them and hearing their ‘song’ is an awesome experience! After the work portion of our days, we may have time to swim and snorkel in the clear waters surrounding the island.

You may want to consider coming early or staying after this service trip to enjoy beautiful Maui and the many outdoor activities available. We can tell you about special places and hikes to enjoy.


You will be picked up at Maui's Kahului airport around noon on the first day of the trip and immediately driven to our condominiums close to the Honokawai Valley, where we will be housed for the seven nights of this outing. These condos are on the ocean front and include a pleasant patio and pool for your enjoyment. There are no elevators in the building; however, once settled in, we’re there for the entire trip! On Friday evening we will explore the former whaling port of Lahaina, a town with many historical sites, now bustling with art galleries and other commercial endeavors. On the last morning of the trip, you will be transported back to the Kahului airport. It is suggested you schedule your departing flight for no earlier than 11 a.m. Additional information on this will be available from the leader after registration.



Getting There

In the winter months, travel from the mainland can be 'uncertain,' due to weather. You might want to consider arriving a day or two early in order to guarantee your arrival by the trip's starting time. The leader will be glad to share hotel information with you, as well as suggest areas to visit on your own (not included in our trip). Please do not make travel arrangements until the leader has confirmed you as a trip member.

Accommodations and Food

Our condominiums in Honokawai are furnished. There will be several group members assigned to each condo unit, with two participants sharing each bedroom. These units are designed for people who know each other well -- there is not a lot of private space. One condo will be designated as the daily eating/meeting location. Washers and dryers are available on the condo site.

The Hawai'i sub-committee leaders pride themselves on the food they serve. Local products and recipes are very much a part of the menu. If you have any dietary restrictions, please discuss them with the leaders before signing up for this trip.

With the exception of one dinner, all meals between dinner on the first day and breakfast on the last day are included in the trip price. The first meal served will be dinner on day one; the last meal will be breakfast on day nine.

Time in our condo is usually spent hanging out on our lanais, watching the humpback whales. The whales are Maui's most frequent return visitor. The waters off West Maui are the favorite vacation spot for these massive marine mammals. This is the time of year when you can observe them doing their courting swim.

Trip Difficulty

This trip requires physical labor, involving weed cutting and digging on our work days in the Honokawai Valley. There will be bending, stretching, and pulling involved -- all at your own pace. You should be able to hike up and down a moderate-to-steep incline, as the entrance into the valley is a switchback trail with an uneven surface. Working to pick up trash and clean debris also involves hauling, pulling, and packaging discarded materials.

Equipment and Clothing

Long-sleeved shirts, boots, sturdy work gloves, sunscreen, a day pack, water bottles, and a sun hat are necessary. Mosquito repellent is a must! A more complete equipment list will be sent to participants.



  • Beckwith, Martha, Hawaiian Mythology.
  • Culiney, John, Islands in a Far Sea.
  • Daws, Gavin, Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Kaufman, Gregory Dean, and Paul Henry Forestall, Hawaii's Humpback Whales.
  • Pukui, M.K. and Curtis, C., Tales of the Menehuene.
  • Sohmer, S.H. and R. Gustafsen, Plants and Flowers of Hawaii.


The Sierra Club sponsors outings so members may experience new places, people, and activities. Specifically, we aim to heighten awareness of the global environment and encourage participants to take action to protect our shrinking world and its inhabitants -- human and otherwise. On this trip, we will learn about contentious water and land development, which affects all island residents and visitors.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.

While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.



Lynne Simpson has been volunteering in the National Outings program for 30+ years; the beauty of Hawai'i and the spirit of aloha still inspires her. In addition to crewing on Hawai'i trips, she leads for the international program. Her other interests include print-making, cooking, swimming, hiking and French poodles.


Marti Greason has over a decade of experience leading Sierra Club trips to various destinations in the United States as well as abroad, introducing participants to various landscapes, exotic cultures, and fascinating creatures (elephants and octopi, anyone?). She has traveled extensively in Europe, trekked through the Serengeti, visited the Orient, and explored the Holy Land. She has also scuba dived in the Caribbean, zip-lined in the Costa Rican jungle, and followed Darwin's footsteps in the Galapagos. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, where she is a docent at Tohono Chul Park, introducing visitors to the basics of desert flora and fauna.


Jan Torrey has worked on Sierra Club trips to Hawaii for 10 years. She started as a cook and moved into leadership several years ago. Her first love is cooking so she will be in charge of the food on this trip. She enjoys the challenge of cooking for a group, introducing participants to favorite recipes using local ingredients.

Associate Leader:

Elaine Grace

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