5 Ways to Be a More Sustainable Traveler

January 28, 2020

2 Asian female travelers smiling on a trolley in Waikiki

The beginning of a new year often has us contemplating ways that we can do better. As the effects of climate change and overtourism continue to grow, sustainable travel has become more important than ever. Consciously making a few simple yet responsible and eco-friendly decisions—even the smallest ones, like switching sunscreen brands—can help reduce the negative impact on your vacation destination.

Travel is what opens the mind and heart to new cultures, new experiences, and new connections with others. But the goal should always be to leave a place better than the way we found it. Planning a trip to Hawaii this year? Here are 5 easy choices you can make to be a more sustainable traveler during your visit.

1. Choose to reuse

Pink Hawaii-Exclusive Corkcicle Canteen with the Hawaiian Islands and the word, Waikiki, from Quiksilver Waikiki Beach WalkPlastic waste has one of the most devastating effects on the environment, taking hundreds of years to fully break down. To make matters worse, plastic litter often ends up getting swallowed by or entangled around fish, turtles, and birds before it even has a chance to do so, posing a direct threat to local wildlife in addition to tarnishing Hawaii’s beautiful beaches.

While certain lifestyle changes at home may help to cut down on plastic usage, it can be difficult to stick to those same habits during travel. However, there is one simple yet critical choice you can make while on vacation: carrying around a reusable water bottle. Available in an endless array of colors, designs, and sizes, it’s easy to find one that matches your style and keeps you hydrated while eliminating the plastic waste that comes from typical bottled water or coffee cups.

For something unique to Hawaii, Quiksilver carries Hawaii-exclusive Corkcicle canteens, tumblers, and stemless styles to keep drinks cold or hot for hours without leaving behind condensation or frigid hands.

Another great eco-conscious decision? Skip the tiny, single-use bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash by packing your own toiletries.

2. Apply reef-safe sunscreen

Surrounded by miles of deep blue sea, a diverse marine ecosystem awaits just off of Hawaii’s shores. The stunning sea life and coral reefs are among the world’s most beautiful sights, but frequent human interaction has overwhelmed its delicate natural balance.

So in 2018, Hawaii became the first state in the country to sign a bill banning sunscreens deemed harmful to coral reefs. Though the new law officially goes into effect on January 1, 2021, residents and visitors alike are already making the switch to sunscreens that do not contain the harmful chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, which were found to cause bleaching, deformities, and death in coral.

If you need a sunscreen refill before heading to the beach, opt for these reef-safe brands that are good for you and good for the environment!

Raw Elements

Available at Quiksilver’s Waikiki Beach Walk® location, Face + Body by Raw Elements is a full body sunscreen made from certified, all-natural ingredients packed in a 100% recyclable and reusable tin. Formulated with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and extracts, it offers UVA-UVB broad spectrum protection and a lasting shield for your skin long after exposure. Not only is it a high-performance, water-resistant sunscreen created to withstand extreme conditions, it is gentle, moisturizing, and safe enough for all humans, including infants.

Absolutely Natural

Everything you need to know about Absolutely Natural sunscreen is in the name. Formulated with natural and organic ingredients, its nourishing formula protects against UVA and UVB rays without the harmful parabens, sulfates and phthalates that can be found in other chemical-filled sunscreen brands.

As proponents of reef-safe sunscreen for 25 years, Aqualani Beach & Ocean Recreation is your one-stop beach shop for Absolutely Natural products and more! Located right on the sand fronting both the Outrigger Waikiki and Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resorts, this beach concession also offers umbrella, beach chair, surfboard, and stand up paddle board rentals as well as canoe rides. Interested in learning how to surf or stand up paddle board? They’ve got lessons for that too. Just stop by during desk hours (8:00 am–5:00 pm daily) to learn more.

Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic

Orange bottle of Banana Boat sport sunscreen marked with a Reef Safe stickerBottles of Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen marked with Reef Safe stickers
Both Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic can be found in ABC Stores at Waikiki Beach Walk®. 99% of Banana Boat sunscreen products are reef safe, as are all Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens sold at ABC Stores. Just look for the reef safe sticker in the sunscreen section! And if your beach bag is missing a few items, ABC Stores conveniently carries a large selection of everyday essentials in one place. Grab drinks, snacks, towels—whatever it may be and you’re all set.

Once in the water, remember not to tread on the coral or touch any sea life you may encounter while snorkeling and scuba diving. By being respectful of the ocean’s fragile ecosystems, you can help preserve our vast and vibrant marine environment.

3. Buy local

Being mindful of where you shop and eat can have a positive impact on the community you’re visiting when you seek out locally made products. Purchasing from local businesses helps support local employees and directly contributes to boosting Hawaii’s economy. Not sure where to start? These places are worth paying a visit:

Farmers Market

There’s no greater gathering of local businesses than at a good old-fashioned farmers market. Featuring locally made products, the weekly Beach Walk Open Market takes place on the lawn area of Waikiki Beach Walk® from 4:00pm to 8:00pm. Make your way through the various booths to sample fresh food, pick up one-of-a-kind gifts, and chat up the locals.

Be sure to double-check the Events and News page for the dates of Beach Walk Market every month.
Local business owner offering samples of pineapple to customers at a farmers market in Waikiki

Lanikai Juice

Craving something cool and tasty after a long day of shopping? Continue to buy local with an afternoon pick-me-up from Lanikai Juice on Lewers Street. As the original company to bring acai and pitaya bowls to Hawaii, Lanikai Juice is committed to bringing fresh, local, and healthy ingredients “from aina (land) to opu (stomach)” as their slogan puts it.
Acai bowl topped with bananas, strawberries, & blueberries from Lanikai Juice in Waikiki Bright pink pitaya bowl topped with various fruits from Lanikai Juice in Waikiki
Acai Extravaganza
Made with less sugar and more of the acai for a real, earthy taste
Pitaya Bowl
Made from pitaya (dragon fruit) and nutrient dense fruit full of antioxidants
Light brown smoothie next to a banana from Lanikai Juice in Waikiki Pink smoothie next to strawberries and bananas from Lanikai Juice in Waikiki
Kailua Monkey
A top-selling smoothie made with bananas, peanut butter, soy milk, protein, and honey
Strawberry Shaka
Another popular smoothie made with strawberries, bananas, pineapple juice, and honey

4. Walk or bike to explore the island

Being in the middle of the Pacific has its perks, but unfortunately, getting here is not the most eco-friendly. So while on island, consider walking, biking, or taking public transit as much as possible. Not only are these means of transportation low cost compared to a rental car, slower travel allows you to fully experience the destination and see things that might otherwise be overlooked. Home to such beautiful skies, it’s a wonderful way to see what Oahu has to offer while enjoying the good weather.
Couple biking along Waikiki with the ocean and the pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel in the background.

Whether your goal is sightseeing or focusing on fitness, there’s no better way to explore Waikiki than on two wheels with high-quality bicycle rentals and tours from Bikeadelic Hawaii. Choose from a range of hybrid and road bikes as well as electric-assist and family options. Then grab a detailed map to cruise through the city on your own or join a guided tour with one of Bikeadelic Hawaii’s knowledgeable local guides.
Located at the OHANA® Waikiki East by Outrigger, Bikeadelic Hawaii is open daily from 8:00 am–7:00 pm.

5. Learn, preserve, and respect the local culture

Before visiting a new place, especially somewhere as unique as Hawaii, it’s always a good idea to do some research on local customs and add a few cultural activities to your itinerary. The joy of traveling comes from learning about different cultures outside of your own, so be an active participant in the arts, music, and traditions that make Hawaii so unique.

The good news is that you don’t have to travel too far to experience the local culture. Waikiki Beach Walk® hosts numerous monthly events for you to enjoy, from hula dance classes to ukulele lessons.
2 hula dancers performing at Waikiki Beach Walk