Back in 1997 when we were starting Holo Holo, we had an ambitious idea—to run the boat (there was only one) on 100% biodiesel! It was a virtuous concept and, bonus– the tours smelled like French fries!– but unfortunately it wasn’t very practical. Turns out marine engines (their rubber components in particular) and recycled vegetable oil just weren’t very compatible, and we learned that the hard way. After two years and tens of thousands of dollars in blown motors, it became clear that what we were doing wasn’t “sustainable” at all. First, the biodiesel itself was being shipped to Maui and back for processing, so that kind of defeated the purpose, and second, we were wasting money and resources with all these broken motors and parts—womp womp. We threw in that towel and came to terms with running the boats on regular old fossil fuel.
Our hope is that by taking people out for amazing experiences on the ocean, it ignites, or fuels (pun intended), an existing desire to protect the oceans. We protect what we love, right?
Just because our biodiesel dreams didn’t come true doesn’t mean we gave up on our eco-consciousness—of course not. We’ve never stopped actively pursuing ways to reduce harm to the ocean and the island, nor will we ever.
Holo Holo Charters is the only Kauai boat tour company to be certified by the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii (STAH.) STAH is a non-profit that was founded in 1995 and its certification program is for tour operators in Hawaii that wish to demonstrate their commitment to workforce development, staff training, authentic experiences, and environmental protection. That’s totally us! We became certified in 2016 and have found the networking and idea-sharing amongst like-minded businesses to be super valuable; we want to know what’s working for other companies and we want to share what’s working for us! We’re so into the program that our General Manager now serves on the board of STAH.
Holo Holo Charters is the only Kauai boat tour company to be part of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) Dolphin SMART program, a voluntary program that promotes the responsible stewardship of wild dolphins in coastal waterways. While dolphin sightings are extremely common (almost a given) on our tours, but, let it be known that our captains will never chase down or harass the dolphins to guarantee an encounter. There are so many unique and precious marine creatures that call the ocean their home, we are guests in their home and will always be respectful of their space.
Holo Holo Charters is the only Kauai boat tour company to be certified as an “Ocean Friendly Restaurant” by the Surfrider Foundation. We’re not really a restaurant per se, but we serve delicious meals prepared specially by our caterers. We work together to ensure the meal we serve is locally sourced (where possible) and are conscious about the waste we create or can avoid. We implemented reusable tableware and cloth napkins for our meals, not just because we’re classy, but it also makes a huge difference in avoiding daily waste from single-use items.
Holo Holo Charters is the only Kauai boat tour company to provide free reef-safe sunscreen for our guests and crew on board. In 2018, the realities of chemical-based sunscreens were becoming clear and so we started researching alternatives. Of course, we can’t control what our guests put on their bodies, but we can provide an option, so we began stocking all our tours with Raw Elements sunscreen. Here’s the thing– if someone’s from a land-locked area, they likely have never heard of “reef-safe” sunscreen. Having it available to offer gives us the opportunity to educate our guests about the difference and why it matters.
Educating ourselves, educating others, and leading by example is how we aim to make a difference. We’re proud to be leading the way for Kauai’s boat tour operators when it comes to protecting the environment that we all cherish in our hearts and depend on for our livelihood.