Visit The USA (@VisitTheUSA) and surfer and scientist, Cliff Kapono, share the beauty of Hawaii's beaches and the importance of taking care of the ocean.

In a world where real-life paradises are under threat from pollution, pro-surfer-turned-scientist Dr. Cliff Kapono uses his first-hand knowledge of, passion for, and dedication to the environment to help save the iconic and picturesque beaches of Hawaii.

Venture alongside Cliff as he pulls us into his life in Hilo — a place where the realms of science, nature, and discovery intersect. Alongside his field work, number crunching, and surfing, he is passionate about reflecting on our responsibility as children of this earth, leaving us with the question, "Am I going to keep changing nature because of my behavior, or am I going to start changing my behavior around nature?"

On Hilo

Hilo, Hawaii is located on the eastern coast of the “Big Island.” Officially known as the Island of Hawaii, Big Island received its nickname to help distinguish itself from the 1,500-mile long — and perhaps more well known — archipelago with which it shares name.

At an estimated 800,000 years old, Hilo is the oldest city in the Hawaiian Archipelago and is ripe with dramatic waterfalls, fertile rainforests, and lush gardens, and has a downtown area that overlooks Hilo Bay and rests on two dormant volcanoes — Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The city is also home to the world’s largest processor of macadamia seeds — the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation — the University of Hawaii, the Imiloa Astronomy Center, and the Merrie Monarch Festival, which is a seven-day festival celebrating the ancient and modern art of hula.

On Cliff and His Work

As a native Hawaiian, Cliff Kapono does his part when it comes to understanding and respecting his environment. His background is in molecular bioscience, and he's produced a handful of award-winning films that delve into indigenous activism, ocean conservation, global food security, and virtual reality.

To understand his connection with Hawaii, he refers to his roots in surfing, the ocean, and his environment: “The more I started to think about how we describe the relationship between humans and their environment, science became this really natural way of expressing that — the idea of biology, the idea of chemicals, and the exchanges between different organisms through root systems.” He prides himself on understanding the systems he depends on for surfing, as well as being knowledgeable about how he can do his part to help the environment.

On Plastic

When envisioning paradise, soaking up the sun on one of Hawaii's pristine beaches may very well be the first scene that comes to mind — not the plastic pollution shown in the video. However, with over 8 million tons of plastic ending up in our oceans each year, rising pollution rates are endangering ocean life and washing up on shore — and Kamilo Beach, located on the southeastern coast of Big Island in Hawaii, is not immune to this threat.

With the help of individuals like Cliff Kapono and organizations like Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii — a local nonprofit with a mission to inspire the community to care for the coastline through beach cleanups — groups have come together to recycle over 200,000 pounds of ocean plastic, helping protect the beauty and health of the planet.

By raising awareness of plastic pollution and helping rid our environment of it, we can all be part of a larger movement toward preserving the world's paradises.

On Doing Your Part

Doing your part to help the environment begins with educating yourself and others. With endless volunteer opportunities available at any time, there's no better time than the present to find a local organization near you. Join a beach cleanup, plant trees in your city, or donate to an animal conservation program — the sky's the limit. By learning more about the efforts happening near (or far) from you, you're well on your way to giving back to a world that provides you so much — just like Cliff.

To learn more about organizations doing their part and how you can help, check out:

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii | https://sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org
Ocean Conservancy | https://oceanconservancy.org
Take 3 | https://www.take3.org

For more inspiring stories from across the globe, check out the Beautiful Destinations YouTube page!


The Beautiful Destinations Team

Logan Armstrong | https://www.instagram.com/loganstrongarms
Chris Shepherd | https://www.instagram.com/cshep25
Barak Barkan

Special Thanks To

Cliff Kapono | https://www.instagram.com/cliff_kapono

The Music

“Daydream in Grayscale” | Dario Lupo