About us

Hele Wai

Founded in 2019, Helewai’s mission is to help protect our island communities most valuable resource, water through exploration and education. The most effective tool to generate water in the natural world is a healthy, native forest in our watersheds. We offer in-depth eco-tours to better educate and inspire our island visitors and locals to help preserve and protect the ‘aina (land).

Our guides are naturalists that will share their passion, culture and education about Hawaiian history and native plants with you through storytelling and ex-ploration on a one of a kind journey.


The early Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands identified water with wealth. Wai is the Hawaiian word for fresh water; waiwai means prosperity. Ola means life; wai ola is the water of life. The Hawaiians believed that all the land and the water be-longed to the gods. The highest chief, ali’i nui, acted for the gods and ruled the land. Land use was governed in sections called ahupua’a, which usually extended from the upland summit peaks or ridge crests down to the outer edge of the reef. Within the ahupua’a boundaries, the maka ‘ainanana (commoners) had most of the resources they needed for survival – fish from streams and reefs, fresh water and land to grow kalo and other crops, and forests for wood and medicinal herbs. The only re-source people could not use freely within the ahupua’a was wa-ter. The rights to use water were overseen by a chief– the konohiki. When ahupua’a were combined to create a moku (district), the konohiki was responsible to the ali’i ‘ai moku.

The steady flow of streams from the land to the sea is important for freshwater marine organisms. The vital connection between the land and the sea has been disrupted in the last 200 years by a growing human population. The activities of people and feral animals in upland areas have muddied streams, killing some algae and stream life, and smothering reefs with eroded silt and mud. Some water uses, such as growing sugarcane or housing developments, divert a substantial amount of water from streams. The result is re-duced streamflow and the loss of native stream life and productive marine fishing grounds. (Source: Wai Ola: The water of Life)


What People are saying

Highlight of our trip! My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 hours we spent hiking (easy hike) with Kevin in what feels like his personal forest. He knows every aspect of it – its flora and fauna, its geological, agricultural, social and political history – and is a master guide and talented educator. We came away with a greater understanding and appreciation for the delicate balance between the indigenous and the exotic that created (and hopefully will endure in) the beauty of this island. And through this, we came to appreciate the uniqueness of Hawaii and its cultures. Highly recommended!
Incredibly unique experience to hear about and see conservation land on private land! We learned a lot about the history of the authentic/invasive/foreign vegetation and the importance of the watershed conservation in the West Maui Mountains (and Hawaii in general). Really changed the way I think about water runoff and how downstream ecosystems are affected by changes in that run off.

Our guide Kevin was very knowledgeable and passionate about this area having a direct family history connection to it.

Hike is pretty easy. Hiking or running shoes are still a good idea with the few slippery spots if it’s wet which it usually is.

We really enjoyed the tour!

Kevin has more than a deep knowledge of Maui’s history, botany and culture. He is a wonderful story eller and guide…and he’s a really nice guy who has answers to your questions. He speaks to the efforts to restore the native species to this island that can preserve the habitat and the resources on which those who live here depend. An outing you should not miss! P.S. not too rigorous a walk!
We have done guided hikes on Maui before but this one really hit the sweet spot of a gorgeous not-too-taxing hike and great learning about Maui’s flora and history. Kevin has such enthusiasm for Hawaii and nature, and was a fun and educational tour guide.
Before you look at booking the stereotypical luau or snorkeling, book this hike. Not only is the hike super accessible for all level hikers, but you leave with tangible knowledge and a connection to this island even locals can appreciate. This hike is beautiful at every turn and Kevin has a wealth of information that will just blow your mind. More people should know about this place and how hard they work to preserve it. Mahalo Kevin for one of the best experiences I’ve had on the island.
Staying at the Westin Kaanapali Resort. The concierge recommended this hike. We loved it! Kevin is so knowledgeable about plant life on Maui and the importance of a healthy watershed. The views were spectacular, highly recommended!