Trip Report – January 2010
Day 1: Arrive in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii – there are several choices of accommodation but we really enjoyed Kulaniapia Falls Bed & Breakfast. The old part of the town is very sweet and worth a wander around. You can start birding as you leave the airport but a definite stop should be Klonakapalu Pond only a couple of miles from the airport itself, en route to the B&B.
Day 2: After birding the grounds of the B&B before breakfast, head over to Volcano Park, stopping first at Volcano House (opposite the visitors center). then onto the Lava Plug which has some great birds, finishing your morning down at the water at the end of Chain of Craters Road.
You can get lunch in the town of Volcano and then spend the afternoon back in the park but on the other side of the highway up Mauna Loa Road. Couple of great spots here are the Bird Walk, also known as Kipukapuaulu and then driving on up the road to an area just passed the 2nd cattle grid. The very end of the road is quite a long way up and doesn’t offer much more – other than a good view! Back to the Inn for a second night.
Day 3: Working up the east side of the island stop at Kalopa Recreational Area which is an interesting spot and offers a reasonable opportunity to bird. Keep heading north and then west along the top of the island to Waimea.. Not a great deal to see along the way but lunch at the Hawaiian Cafe is interesting, You can then keep going towards Ha wi, birding en route. After passing through Ha wi (which is a lovely little place) go to the the Mo’okini Luakini Heiau, which is quite difficult to find but offers a great piece of Hawaiian history. Depending on the time of year, this drive can provide great views of whales.
Driving back through Waimea and on down to Paniola keep an eye out for birds crossing the roads. We stayed at the Paniola Greens Resort, Waikoloa which was great.
Day 4: Take an organized trip with Hawaii Forest & Trail up to the Hake lau Forest off Saddle Road. This is the best way to get the Big Island endemics, and while expensive, is probably a good idea. Stay again tonight at the Paniola Greens resort.
Day 5: Today could offer a good opportunity to combine birding and sightseeing. First a stop on the side of the road at Pu’uanahulu for some finches and a drive through Holualoa onto the Buddhist Temple in Honalo. This route takes you through some nice villages and offers great views.
A trip to Kealakekua Bay offers some good birding with the opportunity to go to see Pu’uhonua o Honaunau and the Painted Church. Back on the highway towards Kona, a stop at the Cafe Shack on the left is a good spot.
A drive back through Kailua-Kona allows you to say you’ve seen it but not much worth stopping for. You can then stop at Amikapali Pond just north of town (a bit of a walk) which is a great spot. You can then have dinner at the Waikoloa Beach resort before staying for the 3rd night at the Paniola Greens.
Day 6: This could offer an opportunity to retrace your steps and find species you missed or have a lazy morning before heading over to Kauai. When you land, head north and stay in the Princeville area. We stayed at the Hanalei Bay Resort, which is tired to say the least but is well located.
Days 7: Start fairly early by driving over to Haena State Park and Ke’e Beach. On the way stop briefly at the view point overlooking the Hanalei Reserve. Good birding from Ke’e beach and in the woods nearby .Driving back, go into the Hanalei Reserve. Once passed the ponds on the right (goof birding), take the right hand turn to the Japanese Cemetery. Walk along the road for several hundred yards before working your way back and into Hanalei for lunch.
The afternoon can be spent at the lighthouse and, if you are there at the right time of year, drive into the housing area between the lighthouse and Princeville and check out the nesting albatross in the driveways near the cliff.
Day 8: Good day for a hike in Haena State Park – lots of choices but go prepared. Then drive back down the east of the island to Lawaii for the next 3 nights. Great B&B at Marjorie’s Inn. Not an awful lot to see en route – either sightseeing or birding but, depending on the time of year, some of the beach areas could be worth checking.
Days 9: Waimea Canyon should be your destination today – the Ak alai Swamp is a great hike and can provide the endemics but its a large area. We found the same species in the trees at the very end of the road itself, just before the viewpoint. The Canyon is stunning – make sure you stop on the way down!! Try drinks at sunset on the deck of the Sheraton in Poipu and dinner at Paradise restaurant.
Day 10: Nice lazy day to check out the Poipu area or go back to find species you missed yesterday. Depending on the time of year, a boat trip over to Nihau Island could be worthwhile.
General notes: Hawaii is quite easy to get around – roads are good and accommodation is plentiful. Guides are expensive though and many of the birds don’t really require a guide.
We were there in January. The time of year doesn’t make any difference in terms of passerines but pelagic birds will be different depending on the time of year.
Guides & Resources
Guides: We thought guides were very expensive!
On Hawaii we just used a group tour – which was good for the Hawaii Forest and Trail
On Kauai we used 2 guides – both were overpriced and the second guide, to Ak alai Swamp was really bad value – he hardly spoke to us the entire time and once we had seen a bird he never bothered to even stop for us to see it a second time. The first guide was very nice but we could have seen pretty much everything without him,
BirdingPals is always a great resource for free and professional guides.
Field Guide – Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical South Pacific – Pratt et al
Where to find birds – Enjoying Birds in Hawaii by Doug Pratt. This is really hard to find – and seems to be out of print but if you can’t get it a great website is Birding Hawaii
Lonely Planet Guide for points of interest.