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Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Adventure in Kona, HI

Hawaii Forest & Trail73-5593 Olowalu StreetKailua-Kona, Big Island, HI 96740
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$195.00 $185.00
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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.


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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Elizabeth C
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TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed September 18, 2017 NEW
We did the Volcanoe's National Park tour with Frank as our tour guide. We were on a 12 person tour. Frank was a fount of knowledge about the area and culture. We happened upon another tour group while we were having lunch at the Kau coffee plantation. They commented our lunch was better than theirs..... We also saw three sea turtles at the black sand beach. This tour was very well done and well worth the money spent.
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Jenny L
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Great hike to see lava flowing at the base of Kilauea and spilling into the ocean. Our guide, Melanie was super knowledgeable and know her stuff!. She was able to explain and tailor the hike to the different knowledge level of the group. They prepare all the equipment, food, and water needed for this hike. This hike is strenuous and mostly hiking in the dark on the lava field.
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TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed September 15, 2017 NEW
My boyfriend and I chose the 3 waterfall hike and could not have picked a better tour! It was an absolute unforgettable experience. With Uncle Danny as our tour guide, we got to have an off-roading adventure to our trail through lush green landscapes while catching glimpses of grazing cows. Once the hike began, we were lucky to have such a knowledgeable guide such as Danny who knows every tree, plant and flower in those forests. We even got to pick fresh guava from the trees to eat! The last waterfall of the hike had a gorgeous swimming hole where we got to actually get in and swim right under the fall! When we reached our lunch spot at the end of the tour, it was absolutely breathtaking. I highly recommend paying to do this tour as you will get to learn so much about the forests of Hawaii.
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"A PEAK experience that we will cherish forever!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed September 13, 2017 NEW
We booked the Mauna Kea Summit tour and were impressed beyond belief! It was our great good fortune to have Hank as our guide, a singular gentleman indeed. He was brilliant, kind, patient, funny, and profoundly competent—my husband and I have taken many guided tours over the years, and Hank was one in a million. (Thank you, Hank!) It's hard to imagine shepherding a van full of strangers, day after day, up precariously steep slopes to the summit of this amazing mountain, 14,000 miles above sea level. Yet he did it with aplomb as if it was "all in a day's work." Throughout the tour, which required a lot of strategic, logistical changes (driving, serving food, packing in/out, star-gazing via a powerful telescope), Hank was invariably polite and informative. He has studied the Hawaiian language and cosmology and is deeply immersed in Hawaiian culture, a real boon for us visitors. This was a singular experience that we will never forget; my husband I and both had tears in our eyes as we descended the mountain at sunset, And even though there was cloud cover for the star-gazing portion of the tour, who cares? I got to see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn, woo hoo! We will never forget this, worth every penny. (PLUS we bought an item at the shop that we left behind, and the nice people working there called is up to let us know that we could retrieve it, which we did.) A stellar outfit, well deserving of their excellent reputation. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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We really enjoyed this tour and the fact that we had some options on it. Our tour guide Eric was really knowledgable and we thought he did a great job of accommodating the groups needs and making sure everyone saw what they wanted and had a great time. Would definitely recommend this for anyone wanting to cover a lot of ground while still getting time to stretch your legs and stop and really enjoy some of the sights this beautiful island has to offer.
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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.