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Carbon Offsets at Holo Holo Charters

Happy New Year friends and ocean lovers! Holo Holo Charters is excited to announce that we are now live and rolling with a new carbon offset project that will eventually offset 100% of our carbon emissions via a Hawaii-based program called Carbon Buddy.

Kauai ecotourism

If you’re familiar with our company’s values, you know that we are guided by the Triple P Principle—People, Planet, Profits. It’s important to us to give back to our island community, proactively care for our ocean and natural resources, and turn a profit at the same time.

We’re the only Kauai boat tour company to be certified by the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii program and the Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Restaurant program. We also offer reef-safe sunscreen on our boat tours and support Reef Guardians of Hawaii among dozens of other local organizations. Going the extra mile for our community and our environment makes us feel good, and our customers like to see it too. Increasingly, travelers are choosing to support businesses that are intentional in how they operate.

This is why we are so jazzed to be sailing into 2023 with this new carbon offset project that generates and inspires climate change action!


The concept of carbon offsets was born in 1989 and really picked up steam in the 1990s, especially after the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997. Carbon offsets are a way to reduce our carbon footprint and ensure a sustainable planet for future generations. It’s a voluntary system and the basic theory is this: reduce or remove greenhouse gasses in one place to compensate for emissions elsewhere.

Here’s how it works in our case:

Our incredible, unforgettable Kauai boat tours are powered by good old-fashioned, carbon-emitting diesel fuel. As much as we’d love to be able to run on some biodiesel or electric power, that technology simply isn’t there yet for the marine environment. Therefore, the best we can do at this point is to send money to a carbon offset program that either reduces greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. building a solar farm) or increases carbon storage (e.g. planting trees.)

Using offsets, Google became carbon-neutral in 2007, and in 2019, EasyJet airlines became the first major airline to offset all jet fuel emissions. If everything goes as planned, Holo Holo Charters is on track to become the first Kauai boat tour company to offset all of our diesel emissions. After many months of researching and number crunching, our journey to achieve that goal has officially begun!


When you’re gonna be spending lots of hard-earned dollars on carbon offsets, you want to be sure that the programs you’re investing in are legitimate. After much research and vetting by Holo Holo Charters’ Sustainability Coordinator Jess Rickard, we feel great about being part of the Carbon Buddy program.

Carbon Buddy was started right here in Hawaii, on the Big Island. Using their tools (specifically designed for tourism-related businesses) we were able to calculate a solid estimate of how much carbon we’re emitting each year.

Next, we picked a Carbon Buddy carbon-offsetting project. For now, the money from our carbon offset credits will be applied to building a photo-voltaic system for the Hawai’i ‘Ulu (Breadfruit) Cooperative, there on the Big Island. This project suits us because it minds the Triple P’s:

Planet: the new solar grid will reduce the Hawaii Ulu Co-op’s emissions by more than 100 tons per year!

People— the work of the Ulu Co-op increases people’s access to Hawaii’s iconic, sustainable, and culturally-important superfood, breadfruit

Profits—the new grid will save the Co-op money that can be reinvested in projects (better ways to produce, process, and distribute ulu) and people (job creation, higher wages)

It checks all our boxes!

(By the way, if you’re not familiar with breadfruit (known here in Hawaii as ulu), please read our blog post about the National Tropical Botanical Garden Breadfruit Institute. This incredible tree species has tons of potential to simultaneously combat world hunger, sequester carbon, create shade, and perpetuate culture.)

Napali Coast boat tours


In order to qualify for official status as a Carbon Buddy “Climate Buddy” we must offset our calculated carbon production for more than one year. If everything goes according to plan, by January 2024, we should be achieving that title and our rightful spot on the Carbon Buddy Map alongside other Hawaii and global businesses taking actionable steps to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.

We love the Big Island and it’s local enough for now, but we’re enthusiastic that Carbon Buddy has agreed to work with us on vetting a worthy organization and/or project here on Kauai so that our positive impact is as local as possible and that our island community can reap the maximum benefits of our purchased carbon offsets. Akin to the Hawaii Ulu Co-op’s solar array project, the Kauai project will likely be connected to growing species that sequester carbon and supporting local food production.

We know that carbon offsets are not a cure-all for climate change and that buying carbon offsets doesn’t give us permission to pollute. We remain committed to reducing our carbon emissions as much as possible here at the source– by investing in energy-efficient motors, going paperless whenever possible, serving local food and beverage products, eliminating single-use plastic, etc.

As always, we strive to inspire change by leading the way. Our hope is that our participation in carbon emission offsetting will inspire other Kauai tour operators and Kauai businesses to do the same. As much as we’d like to, it’s simply impossible for most of us to completely eliminate our carbon emissions, at this time. Climate change is daunting and complicated, but like our friends at Carbon Buddy, we believe that every one of us can take action and be part of the solution.

From now on, our guests have the option to add a $1 surcharge to the cost of their tour at the time of booking.

A genuine mahalo in advance to everyone that opts in and helps offset the cost of our carbon offsets. Let’s have a good time here on Earth while doing our best to leave this beautiful planet hospitable for future generations as well!

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