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.


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

Tripster Customer Reviews

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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Edmonds, Washington
"Check off birds on your list"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 14, 2019 NEW
It was a long day but we saw just about everything on our list including some that were not. Our guide did his best to accommodate the slower pace necessary for some in our group including my husband who probably shouldn’t have been on this outing. I would not recommend this activity for anyone considering a knee replacement surgery or anything like that. The food provided is delicious and there is plenty. Should you forget your rain gear, they have you covered but I recommend you bring your own. In their effort to do their part for the environment, they provide nalgene water bottles (filled with ice cold water) for use while on the tour.
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Fuchu, Japan
"A tour full of highlights"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 11, 2019 NEW
Guide was very knowledgeble about histroy and culture about Hawai island and tour visiting points. With detail taking care for us (weather, food, rest timing) , tour group enjoyed very much with comfortness.
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"Informative and fun!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 11, 2019 NEW
I love tours where you have fun and learn! Never thought I'd eat a cacao seed right out of the pod and certainly didn't know about the process. I'd recommend this tour service and triple recommend our guide!
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TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 11, 2019 NEW
Taj was a greet guide and very informative! The 6-wheeler was a lot of fun and the lunch spot was amazing!
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"Stargazing tour as advertised!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 07, 2019 NEW
The company is very professional. the tour guide - whose name escapes me unfortunately - was very friendly, funny and very knowledgeable and very well prepared. One could think he just started working at because of his passion when he spoke. totally recommend this experience. To allow the company to recognize the tour guide, we were in one of the vans on 11/25/2019 scheduled at 1.25 pm. Two vans left that day. We were with the guide who is a little shorter.
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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.