Hawaii Forest & Trail - Hakalau Forest Reserve Exclusive
Hakalau was named by Hawaiians long ago. It's name means "many perches." Today it is still 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. 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 on the Saddle Road for a continental breakfast of breads, fresh fruit, pound cake, juice, coffee and an assortment of teas. After breakfast stop we continue to the Pua Akala tract of the refuge. The drive takes 2.5 hours each way. Don't worry about the drive time. The drive is enjoyable and you will be amazed at the constantly changing scenery and fascinated by your naturalist’s guide interpretation of Hawaii’s remarkable cultural, natural and geologic history.
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.
Often, we will encounter researchers or resource managers on our walks who are always willing to share current facts and information. Some of the native plants encountered are Giant koa trees, ohia-lehua trees estimated to be a thousand years old, ferns, and rare lobeliads. Hakalau, because of the history of grazing, has a park like setting. 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.
- 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
- Travel in comfort in brand new Mercedes Sprinters that seat 9 passengers with leather captains chairs and usb ports.
- Continental breakfast including fresh local fruits, baked goods, 100% Kona coffee, tea and hot chocolate
- Deli-style lunch with assorted soft drinks, juices and bottled water
- Walking sticks, binoculars, day packs and rain ponchos are provided
Lunch Menu: Choice of Turkey, Ham, Tuna OR Garden Fresh Veggie Sandwich, Sweet Potato Chips and Dessert.
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)
- All Guests Must:
- Proof that you are not under mandatory quarantine through the Hawaii Safe Travel Program or proof of completed 10 day quarantine (airline generated flight itinerary).
- Complete a Health Questionnaire and temperature check with contactless infrared thermometer completed prior to participation.
- Wear a face mask at all times in the vehicle and wherever social distancing is not possible.
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.