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
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.

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.

Schedule: Morning trips departing weekdays only from Hawaii Forest & Trail Headquarters. 11 hours round trip.

Rated: Easy to Moderate; ages 8 and over.

Included in the Tour: 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.

Gear Provided: Walking sticks, binoculars, day packs, warm wear and rain ponchos.

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.

What to Bring & Wear: Sturdy closed-toed shoes

Big Island Hawaii Customer Reviews

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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Avon Park, Florida
"Star gazing adventure"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed June 18, 2019 NEW
I took a star gazing tour with Justin on 6/15. There were 4 of us in our group. I have ALS and brought my wheel chair along to sit in. From the minute he picked us up, Justin took special care of me. He gave me the extra assistance I required throughout the entire evening, never once letting it interfere with the quality of attention he showed the other guests. He addressed each of us by name and was a fun and knowledgeable tour guide. He was super safe and professional, while being loads of fun. We all had a great experience and I recommend this compAny 100%. It is because of people like Justin who are happy to help, even if it require extra effort, that I am able to continue to travel and experience these awesome adventures
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Garrettsville, Ohio
"Mauna Kea Star Gazing Summit"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed June 17, 2019 NEW
Our guide was Hiraldo, he was full of knowledge of the Island and the history of the land. He had a telescope on tour we got to see, Jupiter and some of its moons, the moon, and Saturn. Very knowledgeable about the night sky, planets and answered all of our questions. They picked us up at our resort and dropped us off again! Just a perfect evening
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"Great Tour!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed June 17, 2019 NEW
Amanda was a great guide and the whole tour was right on schedule. A big highlight of the trip was being able to swim with the waterfall.
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Calgary, Canada
"Epic Island volcano journey"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed June 16, 2019 NEW
We had an amazing time with our guide Ashley. She was very knowledgeable and personable. All the stops we had were interesting and the volcano park trail was breathtaking.
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"Maura Kea Summit Tour...to infinity and beyond💫"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed June 16, 2019 NEW
I went on this tour at the end of May and it was the highlight of my trip. Our guide Heraldo was exceptional. From the get-go you felt that you were in safe hands and his attentiveness to everyone’s wellbeing on the trip was remarkable. Heraldo shared his knowledge of Hawaii culture and astronomy and was very patient with everyone during the stargazing making sure everyone had the chance use the telescope. You could hear everyone’s audible gasp and ‘wow’ when they looked through the telescope and saw Jupiter and it’s four moons so clearly. While waiting your turn to look through the telescope you can shelter in the van or look up at the vastness of the sky seeing the constellations and Southern cross while sipping your hot chocolate and eating a brownie...pretty perfect way to spend an evening I think. It is cold so do wear layers and bringing some hand warmers wouldn’t be a bad idea. I also liked the way that, as with many trips tourists can do, companies may try to sell extra gimmicks to you e.g. photos at the summit etc but there was none of that. Safety was the priority (kuleana) then making sure everyone was having fun. The food provided was great also. I cannot recommend this trip and tour company highly enough and when I get back to the Big Island (from Ireland) I will definitely be back on the bus. Even after a long nights tour Heraldo dropped my friend and I off at out hotel in Kona as well. Thanks to everyone for making this a great trip. I’ll be looking out for more stargazing trips around the globe now.
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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.