With World Oceans Day right around the corner, we’re reminded of this past weekend’s impactful celebration to kick off the first-ever World Reef Day.

Hawaiian Airlines, Raw Elements USA, and Aqua-Aston Hospitality came together in the heart of Waikīkī on June 1 to recognize World Reef Day and spread awareness about the health of coral reefs and oceans with people from all over the globe.

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Photo credit: Raw Elements USA/Nolan Omura

In case you missed the festivities, here’s what happened:

On Saturday morning, local government and tourism industry leaders, ocean advocates, kama‘āina (residents) and visitors gathered on the sands of the world-famous Waikīkī Beach. Hōkūle‘a, the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s legendary sailing canoe that led the Mālama Honua (care for Island Earth) Worldwide Voyage presented by Hawaiian Airlines, drifted patiently in the horizon as a symbol of its crewmembers' dedication to Hawai‘i nei (beloved Hawai‘i).

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Photo credit: Raw Elements USA/Nolan Omura
Hōkūle‘a anchored just outside of Waikīkī Beach in support of the global reef awareness initiative.

The day began with Native Hawaiian surfer Tom Pōhaku Stone gathering attendees for a special blessing and reminding us of the duty we share in caring for Mother Nature. Dozens of watermen and women then paddled out into the ocean with Stone and completed the blessing alongside Hōkūle‘a and its crew.

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Photo credit: Raw Elements USA/Nolan Omura
Tom Pōhaku Stone (pictured right) during the blessing of World Reef Day.

“World Reef Day has been one of the most inspiring concepts our team has brought to life,” said Brian Guadagno, president and CEO of Raw Elements, after the paddle-out ceremony. “We live and breathe what we do each day, so to see the crowds of people with us on Waikīkī Beach, supporting such an important issue, was truly humbling.”

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Photo credit: Raw Elements USA/Nolan Omura
Attendees were invited to paddle out to Hōkūle‘a, where Stone completed his blessing alongside the canoe's crewmembers.

The celebrations concluded with remarks by Guadagno, Peter Ingram, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, Archie Kalepa, a leading crewmember with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Lisa Bishop, president of Friends of Hanauma Bay, Theresa van Greunen, senior director of communications for Aqua-Aston Hospitality, U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office, Scott Glenn, director of the state of Hawai‘i’s environmental quality control office on behalf of Gov. David Ige, state Rep. Gene Ward and state Sen. Mike Gabbard, one of the key players behind Hawai‘i's bill to ban sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate.

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Photo credit: Raw Elements USA/Nolan Omura
World Reef Day supporters were recognized by U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for their stewardship of our state's natural resources. Pictured L to R: Theresa van Greunen of Aqua-Aston Hospitality, Brian Guadagno of Raw Elements USA, Peter Ingram of Hawaiian Airlines, Rafael Bergstrom of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and Lisa Bishop of Friends of Hanauma Bay

“One of the important things we can do today is to create more awareness. There’s a lot of people who come to Hawai‘i and aren’t aware of the need to protect the reefs and keep the oceans alive,” Ingram said. “If we can create awareness among a few more people today and they create awareness among a few more people tomorrow, I think we’ll go a long way in protecting our reefs and making sure we continue to do what we can for our oceans.”

On May 31, the day prior to World Reef Day, Hawaiian Airlines hosted a beach cleanup at Kahuku Golf Course Beach, one of O‘ahu’s coastlines most impacted by marine debris and plastics. Pictured at left, Ann Botticelli, senior vice president of corporate communications at Hawaiian Airlines, was among the airline's Team Kōkua volunteers who took to the beach to spread awareness about ocean pollution.

Raw Elements USA, which secured a proclamation from the state of Hawai‘i to establish World Reef Day, selected Hawai‘i as the location for the inaugural event in recognition of our state’s prolonged ocean conservation efforts.

Raw Elements President and CEO Brian Guadagno and his team joined our pre-World Reef Day beach cleanup. Collectively, volunteers filled two truckloads with plastic, fishing nets, and other waste.

World Reef Day has passed, but the initiative lives on…

As Hawai‘i’s airline, we have a responsibility to continue the momentum and encourage our guests to be conscious consumers and vacation responsibly. If you missed us on June 1 but still want to join our efforts to protect coral reefs, here’s how you can get started:


Purchase Raw Elements USA’s Reef-Safe Sunscreen from Our Pau Hana Cart


Our guests on flights between Hawai‘i and North America, Sydney, Auckland and Brisbane can purchase the Raw Elements reef-safe sunscreen SPF 30 tube sold via our in-flight Pau Hana Cart. The full-size bottle comes with a drawstring bag in a new, special in-flight price of $10.99.

Since we launched our partnership in April 2018, thousands of our guests have taken advantage of the in-flight promotion, and we’ve distributed almost 300,000 sample packets of Raw Elements sunscreen. The bulk of these samples were handed out during our World Reef Day promotion (May 26 – June 1), allowing many of our guests to play a role in protecting our reefs while on vacation.


Learn More via Our In-Flight Entertainment

Guests traveling on these same routes can watch a new in-flight video celebrating World Reef Day and learn about reef conservation initiatives and how they can be part of the solution. Through the end of June, we anticipate our in-flight announcements and videos will reach upwards of 900,000 guests!


Talk to Our Flight Attendants

Hawaiian Airlines  Raw Elements USA CEO Brian Guadagno

Our flight attendants know the Hawaiian Islands best and can help our guests learn more about our partnership with Raw Elements USA or purchase sunscreen from our Pau Hana Cart prior to landing. 

SLIDESHOW: Check out some of my favorite shots from our pre-World Reef Day beach cleanup and the June 1 inauguration event. Click the arrows or photos to view more. Image credits can be found in the file name when you right click + save image as. To learn more about World Reef Day and our partnership with Raw Elements, click here.