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NATURE
General | Tours

BIRD AND WILDLIFE VIEWING ON THE BIG ISLAND
(Courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife)

The following areas are accessible to the general public by car or foot travel. Before you travel to a particular area, check with the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources to see if special permission is needed to enter. Drive with caution and heed posted speed limits. If you park on road shoulders, be sure to pull off the road as far as possible. If visiting an area along the Saddle Road (Highway 200), check with the U-Drive Company - the Saddle Road is the only road to Mauna Kea and is off limits to most rental cars. When hiking, take care not to step on any plants. Terrain varies and drinking water is not available.

HAKALAU FOREST NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
The refuge can be reached from Hilo via the Saddle Road (Highway 200), the Mauna Kea Summit Road, and Keanakolu Road. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is required for the 40-mile trip, which takes almost 2 hours each way.
Hakalau Forest is a haven for Hawaii's endangered birds. Four of the seven endangered forest birds - the akiapolaau, the Hawaii akepa, the Hawaii creeper, and the io - found on Hawaii Island (Big Island) are commonly seen or heard within the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. A fifth endangered forest bird, the ou, may also inhabit the lower portions of the refuge, though it has not been seen there for many years. Public access is restricted. Please contact the refuge office at the following address for more information: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 32 Kinoole Street, Suite 101, Hilo, Hawaii 96720, Tel. (808) 933-6915.

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
P. O. Box 52
Hawaii National Park, HI 96718-0052
(Volcano District)
Tel. (808) 985-6000 (open 24 hours per day, all year)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park encompasses 333,000 acres from sea level to the 13,677-foot summit of Mauna Loa, the world's largest and most active volcano. It is home to Kilauea Volcano, Mauna Loa's dynamic smaller sibling which provides frequent opportunities for lava viewing. For your safety, upon arrival talk to the ranger in the Kilauea Visitor Center about current lava flow conditions. The following information applies to some of the best locations for bird & wildlife viewing in the park. For more information, please visit the Park's Website. (The 7-day park entry fee is $10 per vehicle; $5 per bicyclist or pedestrian; free for Golden Age/Eagle Passport holders.)

  • NENE (HAWAII STATE BIRD)
    Currently, some 200 endangered nene (Hawaiian geese) fly free in the park, the result of intensive conservation efforts including predator control, reduction of human impacts, and enhancement of their food resources. Watch for Nene on the roadsides, and also in the drier areas around the Kipuka Nene on the Chain of Craters Road.
  • BIRD PARK (KIPUKA PUAULU)
    The 1-mile loop trail in the Bird Park features native plants found nowhere else. Native birds are uncommon but exotic birds such as the house finch, northern cardinal, Japanese white-eye, kalij pheasant, melodious laughing-thrush, and red-billed leiothrix are often observed.
  • MAUNA LOA ROAD (STRIP ROAD)
    Take Highway 11 to Mauna Loa Road (Strip Road) and continue 10 miles to the Mauna Loa summit trailhead. All the common native forest birds are found in the area, although densities are low.
  • THURSTON LAVA TUBE / KILAUEA IKI TRAIL
    Trails lead through both of these interesting areas that are home to native forest birds. Apapane are usually abundant.
  • KILAUEA CRATER LOOKOUT
    One of the best locations to see the common forest birds. (Located near the Kilauea Visitor Center.)
KALOKO-HONOKOHAU NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
73-4786 Kanalani Street, #14
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
(North Kona District)
Tel. (808) 329-6881
Kaloko-Honokohau is located at the base of Hualalai Volcano, along the Kona coast . It is 3 miles north of Kailua-Kona and 3 miles south of Keahole-Kona International Airport, along Queen Kaahumanu Highway (Hwy 19).
The Aimakapa and Kaloko Ponds are home to many water birds, including the Hawaiian coot, Hawaiian stilt, and migrants such as shovelers, pintails, and scaup. Check with the park office for viewing tips and access rules. Shorebirds, including ruddy turnstones, wandering tattlers, and golden plovers, may be seen from the beach-walk trail.

KIPUKA 21
This small, beautiful island of rain forest vegetation amid lava flows is easily accessible along the Saddle Road (Highway 200). Pull off the north side of the roadway between mile posts 21 and 22. Walk across the lava flow to the edge of the forest and search the mid canopy for omao and elepaio. Look for red blossoms in the ohia trees and watch carefully for nectar feeding birds such as apapane, iiwi, and amakihi. The akepa and Hawaii creeper are also occasionally seen here.

LOKOAKA POND, KEAUKAHA, HILO
Take Kalanianaole Avenue past Hilo Harbor and watch for the large pond on the right. Migrant water birds and shorebirds are frequently seen in this area.

POWERLINE ROAD AND PUU OO TRAIL
The Power Line Road (PLR) intersects with the Saddle Road between mile posts 22 and 23. Park just past the PLR sign marking the entrance to a primitive road heading south across the jumbled lava. Forested kipukas, islands of vegetation, dot the barren landscape. One to three miles down the road, walk across the pahoehoe lava and into the kipuka to see common native forest birds as well as four endangered forest birds - akepa, akiapolaau, Hawaii creeper, and io. Nene also nest in the area and are sometimes seen flying overhead. About a half mile west of Power Line Road, the Puu Oo Trail works its way 3 to 4 miles through kipukas of various sizes. Most of the common native forest birds can be seen along this trail.

PUU LAAU
Approximately 40 miles from Hilo on the Saddle Road, the Puu Laau Road heads up Mauna Kea to the north. This gravel and dirt road is only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles or by foot. The road eventually climbs to 11,000 feet on the southwest side of Mauna Kea. The dry forest habitat is part of the mamane-naio forest community. Watch for pueo gliding low over the slopes and for the endangered palila and the Mauna Kea elepaio amongst the native vegetation. Permission from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources must be acquired prior to entering the area. For information, call (808) 974-4221 on weekdays.

WAIAKEA POND, HILO
Inland from Hilo Bay is a large pond where migrant water birds and shorebirds are frequently seen. Picnic sites and large grassy areas are available for public enjoyment.

If you would like information about other national wildlife refuges in the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific, please contact:

Hawaiian and Pacific Islands NWR Complex
Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 5302
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Tel. (808) 792-9540

PUUHONUA O HONAUNAU
National Historical Park
P. O. Box 129
Honaunau, HI 96726
(South Kona District)
Tel. (808) 328-2326 (Administration); (808) 328-2288 (Visitor Center)
A 181.8-acre park. Until 1819, vanquished Hawaiian warriors, noncombatants, and kapu breakers could escape death by reaching this sacred ground. Prehistoric house sites, royal fishponds, coconut groves, and spectacular shore scenery comprise the park. Green sea turtles can often be spotted in Keone Ele cove . Humpback whales can be seen during the winter months. Handouts on the local plants and birds are available. A 1871 historic trail (approx. 1 mile) has many archeological sites including temple sites (heiau), some sledding tracks (holua), and old house sites. There is also an open lava tube cave that ends at the face of a sea cliff. Watch your head as the ceiling is low and flashlights are recommended. Ask at the visitor center for a backcountry trail guide. The park celebrates its annual Hawaiian Cultural Festival on the weekend that falls closest to July 1. Note: The Green Sea Turtle is a Federally protected endangered species - please do not touch them and keep 10 feet away. For your own safety, please do not jump from the cliff or opening of the lava tube cave.


TOURS

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