Kaupō Hillside Restoration: How to Get Involved as a Volunteer

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a mountain with trees in the background

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Looking to volunteer while on vacation or looking to give back to the place you call home? Kaupo Hillside Restoration is one of the best options for volunteering on the West side of Oahu. I very highly recommend this event run by 808 Cleanups and it even made my list of the best places to volunteer on Oahu.

a rocky beach with a mountain in the background

Kaupō HIllside Restoration Information

If you’re considering a day of rigorous volunteering work, here’s a wonderful opportunity to get involved. 808 Cleanups and the public are joining hands for an afternoon of active stewardship, focusing on the removal of invasive and non-native plant species, planting native plants, and collecting trash from the Kaupō Hillside area.

However, be informed that this event is not recommended for children under 16 due to the proximity of the Highway and uneven terrain on a hillside which may present safety challenges.

Also, remember to dress appropriately with closed-toe shoes, and clothing that can protect you from overgrown bushes, and bring along any water or sun protection as required. 808 Cleanups will be providing all necessary work supplies for the tasks at hand which include cutting down the koa haole trees, removing stumps and grass, and attending to abandoned campsites if found.

The work will take place on the hillside of Kaupō Beach Park, some parking spots are available on the mountainside of Kalanianaʻole Highway. Once you arrive, look for the brown Toyota Tacoma with the 808 Cleanups signs.

a truck parked on the side of a road

Please note that you’ll need to cross the Kalanianaʻole Highway during the event, and your compliance with the site supervisor’s instructions regarding traffic safety will be crucial. This workday is overseen by Kimeona, who happens to oversee the Kaloko Inlet Restoration workday, which I’ve also done. If you’re looking to get community service hours, Kimoena will also sign off on volunteer hours.

How To Reserve A Volunteer Slot

Unlike other volunteering opportunities that are run by a specific group, the Kaupō Hillside Restoration is run through 808 Cleanups which offers a plethora of volunteering work days. If you want to sign up, then you need to visit their calendar with every single upcoming event and the details about each one.

a calendar with orange and blue stripes

After you’ve found an event that works for you, simply click on the name and a drop-down menu will appear detailing everything you need to know about the event and what you may need to bring.

a screenshot of a computer

To RSVP for the event you can use the 808 Cleanups Mobile App or email whoever is running the event, their email will be listed at the bottom of the event details. If you’re approved, you will get an email from the director of the event confirming the RSVP.

It is important to note that you must also fill out a safety waiver before attending any event, the waiver can be found here. Once you have completed the waiver, you do not need to fill it out for any future events.

How To Get To The Volunteer Site

Getting to the volunteer site can be a challenge if you aren’t familiar with this area. You will be parking your car on the mountainside of Kalanianaole Highway near Sea Life Park and the Makai Research Pier, look for the brown Toyota Tacoma with the 808 Cleanups sign and people wearing the bright orange 808 Cleanups shirts.

Main meeting area and pickup truck with tools for the Kaupo Hillside Restoration event.

I recommend arriving at exactly 3:30 or a little bit after so you don’t accidentally pass the spot.

If you aren’t accustomed to this area, then I highly advise you to use your GPS or Google Maps to help you.

If you’re coming from Waikiki, expect a 30-45 minute drive to the work site so plan accordingly.

What Can You Expect

On the day that I volunteered, there were only 6 people in the group; although the group size was smaller in comparison to the other places I’ve been, it was still a ton of fun and I really felt like there was more of a personal touch with this smaller group.

Before we began our work day, we did an Oli, which is a traditional Hawaiian chant meant to ask for permission to enter a place. We did this to ask permission to work and restore this specific location.

You can expect hard work from the start to the end, removing invasive grasses is the majority of the work, but you may also come across a Haole Koa stump that will need removal via a power tool.

a group of trees by the water

The area was pretty overgrown but we were able to make significant progress by the end of our time. You will have a choice of pickaxe, mini pickaxe, power saw, sickle, and rake. I mostly used the pick as it was very helpful in loosening the soil.

a dirt field with trees and a body of water

After we cleared out a large chunk of the hillside, we had the opportunity to plant new life in the form of native plants. These were ground cover plants that would help lock in the soil and provide stronger ground for us to plant bigger trees in the future.

After we planted the native species, the time was up and we had to leave. We performed an exit Oli to finish off our time in that wonderful location and got to admire what our hard work provided.

Unique Aspects Of This Volunteer Program

Something that makes this volunteer opportunity stand out is its amazing location and the people who run it. Nestled right near Kaupō Beach Park and the nearby mountains is truly unique and an unbeatable experience.

Kaupō Beach is a very beautiful beach with amazing views of Rabbit Island and Makapu’u Lookout; surprisingly, there were little to no people ever on the beach, and this lack of noise and clutter really added to the productive ambiance.

a mountain with trees in the background

Another thing that made this event stand out among the rest was how knowledgeable our facilitator, Kimeona Kane, was about the Hawaiian culture and how to truly respect a place. He took the time to teach us the Oli at the beginning of the day and was quick to remember my name even though I only introduced myself once.

Final Thought

Kaupō Hillside Restoration with 808 Cleanups is a top pick in my book. Not only do you feel welcome and respected right from the start, but you also get to do something productive with your time and help to restore a place that is overrun by invasive species.

I would gladly do this event again and any other 808 Cleanups-related work days. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to give back to this amazing island.

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