Blue'Aina with Skyline Eco-Adventures & Punana Leo o Maui
April 1st was a day full of events – Easter Sunday, April Fools Day AND Trilogy’s 4th Blue‘Aina of the year! Despite the rough weather this winter, we were thankfully met with the flattest, calmest of seas and sunshine. Our corporate sponsor, Skyline Eco Adventures, brought some eager volunteers to our sold out cleanup day, along with their donation of $1,000 to non-profit Punana Leo o Maui. The captain & crew greeted everyone aboard, readied the boat, and set sail on our boat of 60 volunteers across the calm waters of the ‘Au ‘Au channel to Club Lanai. Much to our volunteers’ delight, on our way over to Lana'i, we were even lucky enough to be escorted by some late season humpback whales!
Former tourist attraction on East Lana'i
Our destination of Club Lana‘i – or “Lopa” - is located on the east side of Lana‘i Island. This beach club is a former tourist attraction that would bring people over from Maui to spend time on an uncrowded, pristine remote beach, but has been closed since 1996, with only scattered, long-since abandoned buildings and a wooden pier still remaining. Looking to rejuvenate this area of the Pineapple Island, there were discussions in 2013 to convert the area into a sustainable resort, complete with a water desalinization plant, expanded solar farm, medical evacuation helicopter and an airplane runway, according to Charity Texeira of Lana‘i Visitors Bureau. But plans for this have stalled, and the area still remains a mostly deserted beach, except for a few adventurous local sun-seekers, The bonus side effect of minimal to no human impact in 22 years? The coastal reefs found just off-shore have actually remained in relatively good condition! The reef still does get used occasionally, however, by spear fisherman as well as boat companies bringing tourists over to snorkel.
So here’s where Blue’Aina comes in… The reefs of Club Lana'i almost always bring (unfortunate) finds of marine debris, whether from the fishing boats or simply the passing currents, washing unwanted trash ashore and getting entangled in the coral reef. Needless to say, this Blue‘Aina did not disappoint our volunteers! Our snorkelers found around 10lbs (!!!) of trash including rope, deflated inner tubes, plexi glass, fishing line, plastic bottles, and even a hairbrush! After a full hour of collecting all these foreign contaminants, our trusty snorkels bobbing up and down in the gentle waves, we loaded back onto the boat to talk story with our sponsors.
Not their first rodeo, Skyline Eco Adventures has actually been a long time supporter of Trilogy’s Blue‘Aina and we were happy to have them back on board with us again! They are Hawaii’s most awarded zipline company, with locations on Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai. Their mission is simple:
“To provide a safe and exciting means for seeing and experiencing the natural wonder of the Hawaiian islands, while always aiding in the preservation and perpetuation of the islands' unique land and culture, so that they may retain their body and spirit for all future generations.”
— Skyline Eco-Adventures
Truly believing in this mantra, Skyline has developed a company-run native forest restoration area next to the Haleakala Skyline Tour. During the slower business months, staff members venture out into the sprawling tropical landscape to plant native koa trees, and even partner with local youth groups to lead nature hikes, planting native Hawaiian trees across Hawaii. Skyline Eco Adventures is a Hawaiian Ecotourism Certified operator, and also proudly boasts membership to “1% For The Planet”, committing them to donate 1% of all sales back to environmental preservation.
Skyline’s $1,000 donation went to Punana Leo o Maui on this sunny, picture-perfect Blue’Aina day. Punana is a native Hawaiian emergence language school located in Wailuku, which focuses on continual learning and teaching of both the authentic Hawaiian language and culture to children of all ages. It is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, with a vision of “E Ola Ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi” (The Hawaiian Language Shall Live) and a mission to revitalize the Hawaiian language as a living language in Hawaiʻi and beyond. The school first opened in 1987 and has now shared their mission & love for language with over 600 families!
With cultural recognition and remembrance so crucial in preserving the quickly fading traditional ways of Hawaiian customs, Punana ensures a fully immersive learning experience in both the language and in these rooted ways of the ancient people. Children attending each school year’s class of only 30 students spend time working in the Paoloko taro patch, at Nohoʻana Farm in Waikapu, and learn how to make poi, laulau, and lima – all traditional Hawaiian fare. The school also now has 14 language programs throughout Hawaii, including 3 on Maui in Hana, Lahaina, and Wailuku, and are currently fundraising to build their own facilities which will make them self-sustaining and able to increase their student capacity. We wish them the best of luck in their expansion, and send them our greatest aloha for such an amazing mission!
With a fun-filled and educational day of snorkeling, reef-cleanup, whale watching and historical stories from our honorable sponsors (not to mention a delicious lunch, courtesy of Trilogy Excursions!), we set sail back to Lahaina Harbor, humbled, happy, and full of aloha. Mahalo to all our volunteers & see you next time!
To view a video of our 4/1 Blue'Aina, courtesy of Skyline Eco-Adventures, click here!