The Pono Pledge: our Commitment to Conservation in Hawaii

Jul 8, 2024 | How to Protect Manta Rays, Manta Rays in Hawaii, Marine Life in Hawaii

We believe that manta rays and all marine creatures deserve our protection and that conserving their natural habitat is vital. That’s why we are proud to honor the Pono Pledge in our work, ensuring that our actions align with the principles of harmony and custodianship.

The Essence of the Pono Pledge: Living “Pono”

Hawaii, with its breathtaking landscapes and unique culture, has long been regarded as a place of harmony. Its people embraced an ancient philosophy embodied in the word “pono,” which reflects living in balance with all things. This commitment to custodianship and reverence for nature is at the heart of the Pono Pledge.

The Hawaiian word “pono” cannot be easily translated into a single English term. It expresses a profound understanding of our interconnectedness with the world around us, urging us to live in perfect harmony with all things. 

The Pono Pledge is a guiding compass for visitors and residents of the Big Island of Hawaii. It lists a series of intentions to act mindfully and respectfully when interacting with the natural wonders of this island paradise. By taking the Pono Pledge, individuals commit themselves to preserving the beauty and integrity of the land and sea.

What’s in the Pono Pledge

These are the intentions visitors and inhabitants of the Big Island of Hawaii can (and should) promise to comply with when they visit or live on this beautiful island.

  • I pledge to be “pono” (righteous) on the island of Hawai’i.
  • I will mindfully seek wonder, but not wander where I do not belong.
  • I will not defy death for breathtaking photos, trespass, or venture beyond safety.
  • I will care for land and sea, and admire wildlife only from afar.
  • Molten lava will mesmerize me, but I will not disrupt its flow.
  • I will not take what is not mine, leaving lava rocks and sand as originally found.
  • I will heed ocean conditions, never turning my back to the Pacific.
  • When rain falls inland, I will remain high above ground, out of rivers and streams.
  • I will be a steward of the land, revered as my loving chief.

How we Honor the Pono Pledge at Manta Ray Advocates

We offer a unique and safe manta snorkeling experience. The mantas always come first, so we adhere to strict guidelines to ensure the manta rays aren’t disturbed by our presence. We love to work sustainably so that not only humans but everybody else can win. 

We Guide Small Groups to Meet Manta Rays

Our groups are limited to just six people, which minimizes our impact on the natural environment and enhances the educational quality of each tour. 

Keeping groups small reduces disturbances to the manta rays and ensures each visitor can enjoy a meaningful encounter without impacting the mantas’ natural behavior.

We Don’t Use Food to Attract Manta Rays

Unlike many tourist activities that manipulate wildlife behaviors by feeding them, our approach is different. 

Artificial underwater lights illuminate the water, naturally attracting plankton—the primary food source for manta rays. This method respects the manta rays’ natural feeding habits and minimizes human impact. 

By avoiding artificial feeding, we help maintain the ecological balance and prevent wildlife from associating humans with food, which allows us to preserve the integrity of Hawaii’s marine ecosystems for future generations.

We Educate our Guests

Our commitment to the Pono Pledge means we strive to educate visitors about manta rays, emphasizing the need to prioritize their well-being and the preservation of these majestic creatures. 

We support and encourage these guidelines for interacting with manta rays.

We Approach the Mantas from the Beach

We are privileged to conduct our activities from a private sandy beach, allowing us to swim directly to where the mantas are feeding. 

This eco-friendly alternative avoids the use of boats, significantly reducing environmental impacts. Boats can pose dangers through potential collisions with humans and mantas, and their anchoring can damage critical marine habitats

By entering the water from the beach, we minimize these risks and better protect the marine environment.

We Adhere to the Tour Operator Standards  

We strictly follow the Tour Operator Guidelines, which reflect our commitment to the Pono Pledge. These guidelines serve as a voluntary code of conduct for everyone involved with manta rays. They aim to protect the mantas and their environment and enhance participant safety.

We Honor and Respect the Ocean

The ocean around us is powerful and ever-changing, demanding respect. We adhere to the Pono Pledge by always considering the ocean’s conditions before any activities. 

Monitoring the waves and weather patterns carefully ensures everyone’s safety and helps protect the ocean’s delicate ecosystems. As ocean advocates, we share this knowledge with our guests, encouraging them to respect and preserve the ocean.

A Call to Live “Pono”: How You Can Incorporate it Into Your Own Life

The Pono Pledge teaches us to respect and treasure our natural environment, leaving it just as we found it for future generations. At Manta Ray Advocates, we promote eco-friendly tourism, teaching our visitors to enjoy Hawaii’s beauty responsibly and leave nature untouched without impacting the surroundings.

We believe in living in harmony with nature during our tours and in all aspects of life. Most of our team members actively participate in conservation efforts and support initiatives to preserve Hawaii’s unique ecosystem.

But living with Pono isn’t just for those who visit or live in Hawaii – it’s a universal concept that can enhance one’s respect and care for the environment, no matter where in the world you are. 

We encourage you to reflect on ways to integrate this spirit of harmony and respect into your everyday activities. How can you reduce your environmental impact or create a more sustainable lifestyle? Share your thoughts and commitments in the comments below – we’re excited to hear how you plan to live Pono in your community!


If you’re thinking about booking a manta ray activity, don’t miss our guide for swimming with manta rays in Hawaii. It’ll answer all your questions about equipment, prerequisites, safety, sustainability, and much more.

It’s a great FREE resource for anyone who’s getting ready to experience the manta rays firsthand.



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