Hawaii Forest & Trail - Hakalau Forest Reserve Exclusive
Hakalau is recognized as a critical bird habitat. It was the first National Wildlife Refuge in the country established for forest birds. It is home to some of the rarest plants and animals on earth. Hakalau is not open to the public. On this tour, we access the Pua Akala tract by special permit.
From the check-in location, we will head up to Mamalahoa Highway heading north towards Waimea and 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 on Saddle Road. We stop en route for a continental breakfast of breads, fresh fruit, pound cake, juice, coffee and an assortment of teas.
Once we arrive at the forest you will notice that Hakalau is a fascinating example of conservation in action. The forest is recovering from 100 years of grazing by cattle and damage from pigs. The Pua Akala meadow is not open to the public, but our permit allows us to bird watch there. It is amazing to see the native plants sprouting through the old pasture grass. The forest here is filled with the sounds of Hawaii’s rare birds.
Some of the native plants encountered are giant koa trees, ohia-lehua trees estimated to be a thousand years old, ferns and rare lobeliads. Our trail is a 4-wheel drive road that bisects the meadow. The distance we walk is small, but there is some elevation gain and loss of about 650 feet.
- Entry into a restricted-access National Wildlife Refuge
- Birdwatching in the Hakalau forest led by one of their most
experienced bird guides – a critical bird habitat that is home to some
of the rarest plant and animal species on earth
- Special permit to access the Pua Akala tract is included
- Our interpretive guides are expert bird trackers
- Breakfast snack
- Deli-style lunch (choice of turkey, ham, pastrami or veggie sandwich)
- Assorted beverages
- Walking sticks, binoculars, day packs and rain ponchos are provided
Great Photo Opportunities
Small Tour Group
- Where and When:
- Departure time usually at 6:30 am. Sometimes the departure time is slightly different based on the restricted-access permits gained for the tour. Exact time for your tour will be emailed to you.
Departs from Hawaii Forest & Trail Headquarters
73-5593A Olowalu St.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 (View Map)
- Please bring your own water bottle for use on tour. Water bottles are available for purchase at Hawaii Forest and Trail and a jug will be available for refills.
- Guests should be able to hike on uneven or rocky terrain. We sometimes encounter cool, wet, or muddy conditions. Other tour restrictions may apply. Must be 8+ years old.
- Special Notes:
- Operation Days:
- Various days
- Approx. 11-12 hours roundtrip
- Hawaii Forest and Trail
- Walking sticks, binoculars, day packs and rain ponchos are provided.