Rainforest & Dry Forest Birding Adventure in Kailua-Kona, HI

Hawaii Forest & Trail73-5593 Olowalu StreetKailua-Kona, Big island, HI 96740
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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.


from Rainforest & Dry Forest Birding Adventure
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.

This tour is great for:
Nature lovers, bird enthusiasts, couples, and adventure seekers

Morning trips departing weekdays from Hawaii Forest & Trail Headquarters and select resort locations. 11 hours round trip.

Easy to Moderate; ages 8 and over.

Included in the Tour:
Continental breakfast, Deli-style lunch, walking staffs, rain-gear, warm wear, day-packs, water bottle, and binoculars

Breakfast:Egg burrito, potatoes, croissants, oatmeal, fresh island fruit and banana bread, 100% pure Kona coffee, teas, hot chocolate, and juices.

Lunch: Deli style sandwich (turkey, ham, tuna or veggie), chips, cookie, sodas, and juice drinks. Gluten-free options are available.

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. Must be able to do short hikes of 1.5 to 4 miles

What to Bring & Wear: Sturdy closed-toed shoes

Big Island Hawaii Customer Reviews

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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New York City, New York
"I saw planets!!!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed July 23, 2019 NEW
Great trip very informative. The dinner was nice but I wish I brought my own food, but then again the focus is the summit and the star gazing. Wear warm clothes, I don’t care how hot it is at the resort, it is freezing at the summit and while stargazing. I got to see a globular star cluster, Jupiter, Saturn and binary stars! Mataeo was extremely knowledgeable and the trip was enjoyable. Also, the oxygen deprivation is real so take it easy at the top.
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Leslie C
Maui, Hawaii
"A taste of the Big Island"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed July 19, 2019 NEW
We have enjoyed other tours with Hawai’i Forest and Trail in the past and knew they would make this tour of the Big Island interesting and memorable for our grandkids and adults. Our guide Mateo was so knowledgeable and made so many Hawai’i facts come to life. Thanks Mateo and thanks Hawai’i Forest and Trail!
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Jane W
Pickerington, Ohio
"Awesome tour!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed July 19, 2019 NEW
We took the Mauna Kea Sunrise Tour and had a great time. Our guide, Matt was extremely informative and personable. The sights were unforgettable. If I had one complaint, it would be that the van was older and the seats were uncomfortable. Other than that, I highly recommend this tour and tour company!
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"Great Tour!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed July 18, 2019 NEW
My husband and I wanted to find tours to really see the beautiful island of Hawaii and this one really hit home! Gorgeous scenery, fantastic locations thanks to their relationship with the locals, sights we wouldn’t have seen otherwise! Our tour guide Amanda was so friendly and VERY knowledgeable, it was like having a friend showing you around the island. I would highly recommend this if you are looking to see what the land has to offer, very easy as well!!
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"Mauna Kea Sunrise"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed July 17, 2019 NEW
Overall awesome experience. Our guide was nice, knowledgeable and onetime. The vehicle and cold weather clothing were excellent, and the tour fantastic. Watching the full moon set, then stargaze for an hour was amazing. Other than being out at sea, it was by far the best star gazing on land I've experienced. Followed by an incredible sunrise.
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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.