Bird Watching Tour: Rainforest & Dryforest
Get a one-of-a-kind experience with Hawaii’s incredible nature
Departing from Kona, Hawaii. Nature lovers and birdwatchers delight in exploring two exceptional habitats revealing the evolutionary epic of Hawaiian biology and observing native flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth.
Rainforest -The Big Island of Hawai’i is a hotspot for biodiversity with one of the largest populations of native flora and fauna on the planet! Nature lovers and birdwatchers can revel at the opportunity to view endemic bird populations in the unique habitats of the Hawaiian rainforest and dry forest. Departing from Kona, travel to the misty cloud forests located on Mauna Loa’s northeastern flank and over the lava flows of the Pu’u O’o Trail (about 4 miles). Listen for the songs of elusive forest birds like the i’iwi, apapane, and endangered akiapolaau as you pass by. The sub-alpine dry forest on Mauna Kea is the next stop, where you will search for the critically-threatened palila, Hawaiian amakihi, and Hawaiian elepaio amongst the mamane trees. This trail is easy and is less than one mile. This exciting eco-tour includes a fresh island breakfast, deli-style lunch, transportation, walking gear, binoculars, and expert guidance on the birds and natural environment of Hawai’i’s Big Island.
Exploration of a cloud-mist forest on Mauna Loa and a sub-alpine dry forest on Maunakea
Visit the last wild Palila habitat in search of this rare & endangered bird
Hike in the native forest amongst unique endangered plants, animals, and insects
Discover the jewels of our forest, including Amakihi, Iiwi, Elepaio, Apapane, and our endangered Akiapolaau
12-Hour Hakalau Forest Reserve Hike With Lunch From Waikoloa And Kailua-Kona Town
What to Bring & Wear: Sturdy closed-toed shoes or boots, long pants, and a light rain jacket
Gear provided: Walking sticks, binoculars, day packs, warm wear, and rain ponchos
Lunch & Snacks Included: 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.
|How much hiking do we do?||Expect to hike approximately 4 miles in the Rainforest portion of this adventure, and less than one mile in the Dryforest portion.|
|Is there elevation gain?||Elevation gain is minimal: 500’ in the Rainforest, and 350’ in the Dryforest.|
|What is the difference in the birds seen on Hakalau vs. Rainforest & Dryforest?||The Akepa and Hawaii Creeper are found in Hakalau, 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 for the determined photographer to photograph the birds along the way.|
|Do you do birding on other islands?||No, but we’d be happy to refer you to a reputable outfit upon request|
Small pockets of koa and ohia spring up along the trail, but our destination is kipuka #34 and #35, which are some of the most productive birding areas in the state. 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.
Native Hawaiian dryforests are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. The sandalwood trees which once dominated these slopes are all but gone, and the remaining mamane trees are at the top of the menu for feral ungulates which frequent the area. Although the terrain is somewhat uneven, 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. There are two other endemics of note to be found here: the Hawaii amakihi, and the local species of the Hawaii elepaio (noted for the white feathering on its head)
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.
Dryforest – 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 7,500 feet on the western side of Mauna Kea to an area known as Puu Laau. The area is mostly park-like and typically commands stunning views of the leeward coast below.