Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Adventure in Kona, HI

Hawaii Forest & Trail73-5593 Olowalu StreetKailua-Kona, Big Island, HI 96740
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Overview

Offered by Hawaii Forest & Trail, the Bird Watching Tour: Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Adventure lets guests enjoy Hawaii’s most beautiful birds and wildlife during an 11- to 12-hour experience. Each tour departs in the mornings and includes a continental breakfast as well as a deli-style lunch. Guests are provided with walking sticks, binoculars, backpacks, warm wear, and ponchos.

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our Kailua-Kona, Big Island Travel Experts
  • Tour duration: approx. 11-12 hours.
  • Continental breakfast and a deli style lunch included in tour.
  • Walking sticks, binoculars, day packs, warm wear, and rain ponchos provided.
  • Approximately 2 to 4 miles of hiking completed throughout the tour.
  • Numerous photography opportunities during the tour.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and a light jacket.

Description

from Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Adventure
Named by Hawaiians long ago, Hakalau means "many perches" and is still considered critical bird habitat today. Once part of a large cattle ranch, it was the first National Wildlife Refuge established in the United States for forest birds. It is home to some of the rarest plants and animal species on earth. Hakalau Forest is a fascinating example of conservation in action. The forest you'll access is recovering from a hundred years of grazing by cattle and damage from pigs. Our permit allows us to bird the Pua Akala meadow. Giant koa trees, ohia-lehua trees estimated to be a thousand years old, ferns, and rare lobeliads are just some of the native plants encountered.

This Tour is great for:
  • Birders

  • Bird Lovers

  • Nature Lovers

  • Hawaii Veterans

Like our Rainforest and Dryforest Birdwatching Adventure the forest here is filled with the sounds of Hawaii's rare birds. Often, we will encounter researchers or resource managers on our walks who are always willing to share up-to-date information. Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, because of the history of grazing, has a park like setting in the higher elevations, and is densely forested below. Our trail is a four-wheel drive road that bisects the meadow, and there is an elevation gain and loss of about 650 feet.

From Hawaii Forest & Trail headquarters, we will head up to Mamalahoa Highway heading north towards Waimea and the Saddle Road. Once on the Saddle Road, there will be an opportunity for some car-birding primarily for game birds and the Pueo or the Hawaiian Short-eared Owl. We stop in route on the Saddle Road for a restroom stop and a continental breakfast of fresh fruit, breads, and pound cake along with juice, Kona coffee, and an assortment of teas. After the breakfast stop, we follow the unpaved Keanakolu Road 11 miles to the Pua Akala tract of the Refuge.

Schedule: Morning trips departing daily. 11 - 12 hours round trip, departs Hawaii Forest & Trail Headquarters.

Rated: Moderate; ages 8 and over.

Included in the Tour: Continental breakfast including fresh local fruit, baked goods, 100% Kona coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Plus, deli style lunch, with assorted soft drinks, juices and bottled water.

Gear Provided: Walking sticks, binoculars, day packs, warm wear and rain ponchos.

Group Size: Tour limited to a maximum of 12 guests. Minimum tour group must be 4 total.

Restrictions: Guests should be able to hike on uneven or rocky terrain.

Reserve Hawaii Customer Reviews

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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nitarich15
Seattle, Washington
"Great Outdoor Tour"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 20, 2017 NEW
We had a great time and Gary was a very engaging and knowledgeable guide. The van, the food and refreshments were all 1st class.
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Alison F
Houston, Texas, United States
"Lava Tour with Melanie"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 18, 2017 NEW
I have visited the big island four times and finally found the tour I was looking for. Our guide Melanie was amazing. We learned a ton and had an amazing hike out to see live lava flow.
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acthibault
"Uncle Danny"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 18, 2017 NEW
Uncle Danny is the greatest guide ever. His knowledge of the island and its inhabitants is unparalleled, and he made the Big Island feel like home for the day. Such an amazing experience!
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Anonymous
"Great Fun on Mauna Kea!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 17, 2017 NEW
The Mauna Kea Summit and Stars tour was outstanding! Our guide Jeff made the tour safe, fun and memorable - he was extremely knowledgeable about geology, Hawaiian culture and astronomy. Jeff's friendly, personable style and willingness to answer any questions made our group of 14 relaxed and happy. We've been all over the world, on many tours, but this was the best!
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Livelife88
"Fantastic "
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 17, 2017 NEW
Did the Mauna Kea sunset summit and stars tour. This tour included going up 14000ft to see the sunset into the clouds and then an hour or so of star gazing following the sunset. Our tour guide, Joe was absolutely amazing and clearly passionate at what he does. He was so informative and knowledgeable on various different topics which kept the tour interesting. I wasn't expecting much from the dinner but was pleasantly surprised by what we received. The brownies and hot chocolate while star gazing was a perfect touch to wrap things up. One thing for future tour goers...bring extra warm clothes.. No amount of warning can truely prepare you for the temperatures up there.
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Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Adventure is located at Hawaii Forest & Trail73-5593 Olowalu StreetKailua-Kona, Big Island, HI 96740
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Frequently Asked Questions about Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Adventure

How much hiking do we do on the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Adventure?
Expect to cover approximately 2 to 4 miles in 4 hours.

Is there elevation gain?
Over the course of the hike we gain approximately 650’.

What is the difference in the birds seen on Hakalau vs. Rainforest & Dryforest?
The Akepa and Hawaii Creeper are found in Hakalau Forest, while the Palila is found on the Rainforest & Dryforest Adventure.

Is it possible to use a spotting scope?
Due to the behavior of Hawaii’s endemic birds, the use of a spotting scope can be challenging. If you feel up to the test, we do encourage you to bring your own birdwatching gear. We do provide binoculars on the tour for guest use.

Is it possible to get photos of the birds?
Typically, there are many opportunities to photograph the birds along the way for the determined photographer.