Growing up in Ha’iku, Des developed a deep connection to the island of Maui. “All the ponds I take guests to now are those I learned to swim in,” she says. Half Hawaiian and half Portuguese, her ancestral roots can be traced back to one of Maui’s high chiefs, and also immigrants from Portugal who came to work in the sugar cane fields.
As a guide at Hike Maui, Des utilizes her degree in Hawaiian studies from University of Hawaii Maui College as well as her background in environmental education. “I enjoy introducing the Hawaiian language, in particular teaching the word kuleana, which means privilege and responsibility. It’s our kuleana to leave no trace and be good stewards of the land.” She also educates guests about plants—including those brought to the Islands by the early Polynesian settlers—and, on her crater hikes, native species found in the fragile Haleakala ecosystem.
When she’s not guiding for us, Des keeps busy with her two children, and she also enjoys outdoor recreation. Some of her favorite activities are longboarding and fishing with her significant other.
Guest quote: Our tour guide Des was amazing, and so knowledgeable. She gave us a foraging lesson with all of the edible plants she let us try along the way. She was super helpful, and offered to take family pictures at each photo op.