Hui O Ko’olaupoko | Protecting The Ocean By Caring For The Land On Oahu

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Volunteering near your community or while on a trip is a fun and exciting way to give back and appreciate what goes on behind the scenes in maintaining natural parks and locations that protect endangered species. Recently I volunteered at Hui O Ko’olaupoko, which is a nature preservation non-profit located on the island of O’ahu. Enjoy my thoughts and overall experience of this location, and consider signing up yourself.

When visiting Oahu there are dozens of things to do but I hope you consider this free activity that will leave this place in a better state then when you arrived.

Hui O Ko’olaupoko Information

Signage at Hui O Ko'olaupoko
Photo Courtesy of Hui O Ko’olaupoko

Hui O Koolaupoko is a nonprofit organization in Kailua on the Island of O’ahu, they are dedicated to protecting and restoring the Koolaupoko region’s water resources and nearshore marine ecosystems. Their mission is to “protect ocean health by restoring the aina: mauka to makai” (from the mountains to the sea).

Established in 2007, this organization has a history of protecting and restoring its region’s natural water resources and wildlife that resides in those areas. Hui O Ko’olaupoko’s mission statement is this: “Protecting ocean health by restoring the ʻāina: mauka to makai.” While this may seem contradictory, protecting the sea by restoring the land; our volunteer guide aptly explained that runoff from polluted or ill-maintained land can cause major problems in waterways that lead to the ocean or into our water collection systems.

While many variables contribute to water pollution, Hui O Ko’olaupoko focuses on 2 of the many topics, ecosystem restoration, and stormwater management. These 2 topics play a large role in protecting our land and resources and this volunteering non-profit strives to educate people in these fields by working at their many sites. If you’re looking to volunteer at any of these events, visit their website and events page for more information.

How To Reserve A Volunteer Slot

If volunteering is something that you’re interested in and want to learn more about Hui O Ko’olaupoko, check out their website to learn more about their mission and what they’re doing to better their community.

When I signed up to volunteer with this non-profit, via this form, I submitted it on a Saturday which was out of their company hours but still received an automated email stating that they would get back to me as soon as possible. I liked this because it made sure that I knew my message was going to be received.

After a day or two, I received an in-depth email from the coordinator specifying all the things I needed to know before my volunteer date. In the email, I was informed about things I needed to bring along with a link to a digital safety waiver that was well presented so I wouldn’t accidentally read over it.

Hui O Ko’olaupoko | Protecting The Ocean By Caring For The Land On Oahu

How To Get To The Volunteer Site

Living in Kailua, Hui O Ko’olaupoko was no more than a 10-minute drive from my house; located at 750 Kaha Street, you can easily plug it into your GPS or Google Maps and avoid running the risk of taking a wrong turn. Eventually, you will come to a parking lot that is right next to the main site, I booked my volunteering for 9 am-12 pm and there were plenty of parking spots open along with shady areas to relax in if you get there early.

Parking area for Hui O Ko'olaupoko

I got to the site around 15 minutes early and had the opportunity to look at the native plants that were being planted nearby, the saplings were labeled with information regarding Hui O Ko’olaupoko and included a link to their website for those who may be thinking of volunteering.

Hui O Ko’olaupoko | Protecting The Ocean By Caring For The Land On Oahu
Hui O Ko’olaupoko | Protecting The Ocean By Caring For The Land On Oahu

What Can You Expect?

At around 3 hours long, this volunteering opportunity was pretty strenuous and is not for those who want light work. For the majority of the time, the group and I cleared out invasive species of grass and vines from a fairly large portion of Naupaka which made way for the plant to flourish. It was a hot day and I ended up sweating a lot, I highly recommend putting on sunscreen before and in between water breaks.

Initially, I was skeptical about me not having the proper equipment or gear on hand but the on-site volunteer head had all the tools we needed along with gloves for all hand sizes; I have fairly large hands and was surprised that the gloves were able to fit nicely without any overly loose or tight spots, most volunteering opportunities don’t have glove sizes that fit me well.

All the tools and equipment were stored in the bed of the volunteer head’s truck and gave easy access to anyone who needed different tools, it also served as a convenient meeting point that we used before and after our work.

Hui O Ko’olaupoko | Protecting The Ocean By Caring For The Land On Oahu

Unique Aspects Of This Volunteer Program

So what sets Hui O Ko’olaupoko aside from every other volunteering opportunity on Oahu? First off, they boast a unique location and access to many native plants and wildlife. Before we started working, the guide gave us an in-depth tour of every plant in the garden and even showed us a small portion of the nearby marsh. We were lucky enough to see some baby ‘Alae ‘Ula and many ducks flying and swimming around.

Hui O Ko’olaupoko | Protecting The Ocean By Caring For The Land On Oahu

Our guide was very knowledgeable about every plant and its uses, she even shared Hawaiian Mo’olelo (stories) about some of the plants. This level of expertise was very impressive and left a good impression on me, a guide who not only works hard but knows a lot about what they’re doing is one of the most important things to look for.

Located right next to Kawainui Marsh, I always heard birds chirping and sounds of nature while working which made it a lot more interesting. Being able to look around and see ducks landing in the water was very interesting and added to the relaxed yet focused environment.

Hui O Ko’olaupoko | Protecting The Ocean By Caring For The Land On Oahu

Final Thoughts

Overall, Hui O Ko’olaupoko is a very well-run and informative volunteering opportunity for those who are looking to give back to their community. While the labor is pretty tough, I could see progress being made by the end of my time and I believe that with help from volunteers, Hui O Ko’olaupoko can spread their word and continue to aid in protecting our land.

Have you volunteered here? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.


Being born and raised on Oahu, I have experienced so much that this amazing place has to offer; however, I know that there is so much I have yet to learn and do. That is why I strive to discover new activities and opportunities, whether that is in visiting hotels or volunteering; I do this not only for me, but for you too. Being a Native Hawaiian means that I have a special connection to what I am writing about and I want to share my knowledge with each and every of you. I hope you can enjoy what I write and learn a little bit more about this place I call home.


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