Picturesque Hawaii

Global Exchange recently announced Hawaii as its newest destination for socially responsible travel. The trip is called Aloha ‘Aina: Militarization, Ecology and Hawaiian Self-Determination.

In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state, but to many native Hawaiians, the islands’ annexation and statehood violated both international law and their right to self-determination.

From December 16 – 23, 2011, Global Exchange’s Reality Tours program expands our socially responsible, educational adventures to Hawaii to explore the issues rarely mentioned by the media, the travel industry, or the local government itself.

The islands’ tropical climate and natural beauty make them a popular destination for tourists, sportspersons, and scientists from around the world, but visitors seldom hear about real issues affecting the island’s fragile ecology and native people.

Makua Beach in Hawaii

This Reality Tour will reveal the history and struggles of the native Hawaiians, the impact of the heavy U.S. military presence on their daily lives and fragile island ecosystems, and the vibrant indigenous culture of a people who never had a voice in becoming part of the United States.

Global Exchange Reality Tours are based on the idea that travel can be educational, fun, and positively influence international affairs. Our trips provide individuals the opportunity to understand issues beyond what is communicated by the mass media and gain a new vantage point from which to view and affect US foreign policy.

Hawaii Trip Itinerary
Here is a rundown of the tentative itinerary for this new and exciting trip:

The trip begins with an “alternative” tour of Honolulu, including a visit to ‘Iolani Palace and other important cultural sites, an appreciation of the natural beauty that the island’s tourism industry is built upon, and a discussion of Hawaii’s history, resistance, and militarization. The latter is highlighted in an alternative tour of Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.

The program further diverges from the usual tourist clichés with a visit to Hanakehau Learning Farm, a project that offers a model for converting former military zones to peaceful and productive uses by restoring farming in the wetlands on the shores of Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa (Pearl Harbor). The tour then travels to Ma ka hana ka ike to help restore traditional agri- and aquaculture, and to Wai’ahole to meet representatives of local environmental organizations.

The next day focuses on traditional Hawaiian culture and cosmology, with a visit to Lihu’e and the Kukaniloko Birthstones, one of the most significant cultural sites on O’ahu, to learn about the area’s historic and religious importance. From there participants travel to Mt. Ka`ala, the highest peak on the island of O`ahu, whose flat-top is a familiar sight to island residents.

A hike through the forest ends with a visit to an organic farm project to learn how it is improving food security and the economic and social realities of marginalized communities by “growing food and empowering youth”. The day concludes with a visit to Makua Beach and a briefing by locals on how Hawaiian culture and the role of nature in their cosmology and day to day lives.

The ecological theme continues with a visit to Paepae o He’eia, a non-profit group started by a group of young Hawaiians dedicated to preserving the ancient He’eia Fishpond located in He’eia, Ko’olaupoko, O’ahu, for the community. Participants then learn how the revival of traditional canoe voyaging helped spark a Hawaiian cultural renaissance, and experience it first-hand by paddling before meeting with community activists dedicated to ocean stewardship through education and advocacy.



Aloha Aina!