homepage logo

Maui Surf Clinics awarded Sustainable Tour Operator Certification

By Staff | Mar 24, 2020

Maui Surf Clinics is led by owner Kristin McFarland (left) and Operations Manager Kat Achimoff.

HONOLULU – Lahaina-based ocean recreation surf company Maui Surf Clinics was recently awarded Sustainable Tour Operator Certification by the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii (STAH).

“We are thrilled to recognize Maui Surf Clinics as a Certified Sustainable Tour Operator,” said Lauren Blickley, STAH program director. “They exemplify the qualities of a Sustainable Tour Operator, including participating in cultural and environmental training, reducing their environmental footprint, offering eco-cultural tours and supporting community efforts through beach cleanups and community volunteers programs.”

Maui Surf Clinics is the second surf lesson company certified through STAH and the only one operating in Lahaina. The company is one of the oldest Lahaina-based surf companies.

“The certification process inspired us to further develop sustainability practices throughout Maui Surf Clinics, including educating ourselves in order to pass on knowledge to our island visitors,” said Kristin McFarland, owner of Maui Surf Clinics.

“We have created a place where we not only teach people how to surf but also educate them on how they can help protect and restore our oceans for future generations. We are also consistently working on reducing our carbon footprint throughout the business. My hope is that we will inspire other companies to join us in our mission to make a change in ocean recreation businesses across Hawaii.”

Maui Surf Clinics was recently awarded Sustainable Tour Operator Certification by the Sustainable Tourism Association of Hawaii. The Lahaina-based surf lesson company’s team is pictured participating in cultural training with Ekolu Lindsey at Polanui.

STAH’s Sustainable Tour Operator Certification program evaluates tour companies on six operating principles covering environmental footprint, staff training and management, community involvement, natural and cultural resources, customer evaluation and marketing.

“We are passionate about protecting Hawaii’s ocean environment,” said Operations Manager and Eco-cultural Guide Kat Achimoff. “It is our kuleana not only to protect Maui’s natural resources but also educate our visitors – teaching them how to travel pono.”

In addition to minimizing their environmental footprint, the company has focused on staff development and training. In the past year, surf instructors with Maui Surf Clinics have completed the Hawaii Professional Tour Guide Certification program, Eyes of the Reef training and cultural training with Polanui Hiu.

“I am extremely proud of my team. We’ve worked side by side for many years. We are all like-minded in our passion for the ocean and sharing our knowledge,” said McFarland.

STAH maintains Hawaii’s Sustainable Tour Operator Certification program. The certification is the only statewide program in the U.S. providing a third party, comprehensive assessment of tour providers and their contribution to natural and cultural resources, conservation and local communities.

The program currently hosts 40 companies spread across Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island.

Certification is a three step process: Complete a self-evaluation; participate in an in-person, third-party evaluation; and maintain standards and participate in annual re-certification.

Companies who are interested in certification can learn more at sustainabletourismhawaii.org/getcertified or e-mail communications@sustainabletourismhawaii.org.

The mission of STAH is to protect Hawaii’s unique natural environment and host culture through the promotion of responsible travel and educational programs relating to sustainable tourism for residents, businesses and visitors.