Rainforest & Dry Forest Birding Adventure in Kailua-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: Rainforest and Dry Forest Birding Adventure gives visitors an up-close look at some of the most exotic birds in Hawaii’s rainforests. Guests (ages 8 and older) can enjoy this 11 to 12-hour adventure and are provided with continental breakfast, a deli-style lunch, walking sticks, binoculars, backpacks, warm wear, and ponchos.

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our Kailua-Kona, Big island Travel Experts
  • Wear sturdy walking shoes, long pants, and a light jacket.
  • Guests are provided with binoculars for optimal viewing.
  • Bring your camera for the endless photo opportunities throughout the tour.
  • A continental breakfast is provided to tour guests.

Description

from Rainforest & Dry Forest Birding Adventure
Rainforest - Our destination is the Puu Oo Trail, a historic cattle drive route, located at the 6,000 foot level of Saddle Road on Mauna Loa's northeastern flank. This is the windward side of the island and is often cloaked in misty clouds. It is enchanting to be serenaded by the forest birds as we make our way over three to four miles of sometimes rough lava trail, crossing over the 1855 and 1881 lava flows.

Some of the avifauna we hope to spot along the way are iiwi, apapane, amakihi, omao, elepaio, and the elusive akiapolaau, with its unique multipurpose beak. Many of these are found in the ohia and koa canopy.

Dry forest - At the Humuula hunter check-in station just off Saddle Road, we go into the Kaohe Game Management Area and four-wheel it to nearly 7000 feet on the western side of Mauna Kea.

The track leads to a locked gate that is the entrance to the Mauna Kea Forest Preserve. There we disembark the van and take in the spectacular views. Then we get down to some serious bird watching, on foot in the mamane-naio forest. Although the terrain is somewhat uneven, the hiking is easy. We are particularly interested in sighting the critically threatened palila, which feeds almost entirely on the green pods of the mamane tree.

On the drive to our two primary locales, we head north along the coastline before starting the climb to the old Mamalahoa Highway, keeping an eye out for open-country birds. From there we'll connect to the Saddle Road and begin car-birding, primarily for game birds as well as for the Pueo, or short-eared owl. Depending on the weather, we'll stop for a bit of breakfast along the Saddle Road, often at Mauna Kea State Park at Pohakuloa.

Schedule: Morning trips departing weekdays only from Hawaii Forest & Trail Headquarters. 11 hours round trip.

Rated: Easy to Moderate; ages 8 and over.

Included in the Tour: Continental breakfast including fresh local fruit, baked goods, 100% Kona coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. 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 10 guests.

Restrictions: Guests should be able to hike on uneven or rocky terrain. We sometimes encounter cool, wet or muddy conditions.

What to Bring & Wear: Sturdy closed-toed shoes

Reserve Hawaii Customer Reviews

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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Navigate40390202672
"A wonderful experience"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed January 16, 2019 NEW
Everything is awesome besides the cold temperature… It's the most romantic thing to meet the light from million years ago! Must go!
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WilliamW519
"Great guided walk in Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed January 16, 2019 NEW
My wife, adult son and I went on a guided walk through the forest in Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge on the slopes of Mauna Kea on a Hawaii Forest and Trail trip. Our guide was Gary and we had a great time. The refuge is working to preserve and restore the native high altitude forest on Mauna Kea and is home to a number of interesting and rare native Hawaiian birds and plants. Many are endemic to Hawaii. As a general matter, you can only enter the refuge with a guide. The birds were amazing, the plants quite interesting and beautiful and there were many beautiful views along the road to the refuge and on the trail. Gary was quite knowledgeable about the birds, plants and geology of the area. We had an interesting discussion. He did a great job spotting birds and plants. 3 of the 8 clients on the trip were birders. Two of us (including me) were hoping to photograph the native birds (lighting in a forest is often challenging for photography, but I got a number of good pictures of birds I had never seen before). And others (my wife and son among them) were out for a beautiful walk in an interesting forest. I think all had a good time. The logistics of the trip went well too. Breakfast and lunch were good and the van we drove in was comfortable. We will definitely go in another HFT trip.
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Navigate66215409594
"Fabulous tour!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed January 16, 2019 NEW
My husband and I went on the sunrise tour and we both agree it was the highlight of our first vacation to Hawaii. We were amazed at how much of the night sky is visible at 4am from halfway up Mauna Kea, and our tour guide pointed out all the major constellations in southern and northern hemisphere. The view from the top is spectacular! Our guide said it was one of his best trips the whole year. The guides really take care of you and are extremely knowledgeable. I was having allergy related ear issues and our guide Jason kept checking to make sure I was Ok. Definitely go with this tour group - they are eco-friendly and people friendly.
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Jim C
Rome, Georgia
"Stunning views"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed January 16, 2019 NEW
A great early am tour! Recommend doing this while you’re still jet lagged (if coming from the mainland) to make the 2 am wake up is easier. Our guide, Matt,was very knowledgeable, having a geology background and previous work experience on the telescopes. He plied us with coffee and hot choclate, and gave us a great tour of the constellations from the North Star to the Southern Cross. He worked hard to keep us comfortable and informed. The summit was truly stunning. Great sunrise and views from almost 14,000 feet. The parka and blankets provided kept us warm enough. (Low 30s with no snow when we went). A tasty breakfast at a deserted 19th century ranch house down in the valley was a great finish.
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Sue B
Bettendorf, Iowa
"Moana Kae trip"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed January 15, 2019 NEW
Amazing tour...amazing food...amazing time! The tour starts at 3. You travel from sea level to 12000 feet with breaks to the amazing Moana Kae summit. After sunset, you are taken to a dark turnoff to look at stars. All food is great! A wonderful tour. Would love to take it again!
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Rainforest & Dry Forest Birding Adventure is located at Hawaii Forest & Trail73-5593 Olowalu StreetKailua-Kona, Big island, HI 96740
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Frequently Asked Questions about Rainforest & Dry Forest Birding Adventure

How long do the adventures last?
From start to finish, the tours are approximately 11 hours long. This can vary due to traffic, group size, and weather conditions.

When are trips available?
Morning trips are available every weekday departing from Hawaii Forest and Trail Headquarters.

Can children participate in the adventure?
Due to the amount of hiking and other outdoor activities involved, children under the age of 8 are not allowed to join the tour.

What is included in the ticket price?
Guests receive walking sticks, binoculars, day backs, warm gear and rain ponchos as part of the adventure. In addition, a continental breakfast including fresh local fruit, baked goods, 100% Kona coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and deli-style lunch, with assorted soft drinks, juices and bottled water is served.

How much hiking will we do?
Guests hike approximately 4 miles throughout the duration of the trip. It is recommended that those who have difficulty walking, hiking, or ascending stairs unassisted or cannot walk/hike on uneven terrain do not participate in the trip.

Will I be able to take photos of the birds throughout the trip?
Absolutely. There are plenty of photo opportunities throughout the trip duration.

How many people are on each tour?
Each adventure hosts 10 people maximum. We keep our group sizes small to ensure our guests enjoy their birding adventure.

What should I wear?
Closed toed shoes are required. It is recommended that guests wear comfortable layered clothing.

Will the tour still operate if it rains?
Yes. Tours operate rain or shine.

I need to cancel my tour. What is your cancellation policy?
Any cancellations made by the listed cancellation date will receive a FULL REFUND with absolutely NO CANCELLATION FEES. Any adventure reservations past the cancellation date cannot be changed or canceled.