Hawaii’s Best Birding Tour: Endemics to Pelagics

Set Departures through 2023

Experience the best of Hawaii and its beautiful birds with local experts! After working for other top birding tour operators and with conservation groups in Hawaii for years, Mandy Talpas, has designed the ultimate all-inclusive Hawaii birding tour! She is ecstatic to get you off the beaten path so you can enjoy the real Hawaii while supporting wildlife conservation initiatives and local businesses. She invites you to enjoy birding in paradise with Hawaii’s premiere local guides in search of Hawaii’s endemic forest birds, majestic seabirds, native water birds, visiting shorebirds, and introduced specialties with scrumptious meals and oceanfront accommodations.

Highlight Target Species

Iiwi, Hawaii Amakihi, Kauai Amakihi, Oahu Amakihi, Apapane, Hawaii Creeper, Akepa, Akiapolaau, Palila, Anianiau, Hawaii Elepaio, Kauai Elepaio, Oahu Elepaio, Omao, Red-billed Leiothrix, Yellow-fonted Canary, Common Waxbill, Chestnut Munia, African Silverbill, Saffron Finch, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Red-crested Cardianl, Eurasian Skylark, Pacific Golden Plover, Wandering Tattler, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Goose, Short-eared Owl, Hawaiian Duck, Hawaiian Hawk, Erckel’s Francolin, Black Francolin, Gray Francolin, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Kalij Pheasant, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Newell’s Shearwater, Bulwer’s Petrel, Hawaiian Petrel, Mottled Petrel, Juan Fernandez Petrel, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby, Masked Booby, White-tailed Tropicbird, Brown Noddy, Hawaiian Noddy

“Mandy is so professional, knowledgeable and friendly! We could not have had a better bird expert on this tour! Thank you for being so passionate about the birds and for your conservation work as well. I will never forget this tour!”

Price

$5,900, double occupancy
+$975 single supplement


Duration

10 days


Dates

2021

February 3-12, 2021
September 12-21, 2021

2022

January 17-26, 2022
February 21-March 2, 2022
April 4-13, 2022
September 12-21, 2022

2023

January 22-31, 2023
February 20-March 1, 2023
April 10-19, 2023
September 18-27, 2023
November 13-22, 2023


Group Size

4-7

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival

Upon arrival in Honolulu (HNL), take a shuttle, or cab, to the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel in Waikiki, where we have already reserved a room in your name. We will gather in the lobby at 6pm to meet new friends before our welcome dinner together. Night in Waikiki.

 

Day 2: Birding Oahu

This morning we start our day in Kapiolani Park, next to our hotel, to admire visiting Pacific Golden Plovers and Honolulu’s city bird, the beautiful White Tern. While exploring the park we are sure to encounter a myriad of introduced species among the banyan and rainbow shower trees, such as Common Myna, Red-crested Cardinal, Red-vented Bulbul, Yellow-fronted Canary, Java Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Spotted Dove, Zebra Dove, and Rose-ringed Parakeet. After breakfast we will leave the city behind and enter the rainforests of the Koolau Mountains in pursuit of Oahu’s endemic honeycreeper, the Oahu Amakihi, before we transcend down into the valleys to search for the endangered Oahu Elepaio. While on our endemic bird adventure we will most likely encounter Whtie-rumped Shama, noisy flocks of Red-billed Leiothrix, an occasional Red-whiskered Bulbul, and chattering Warbling White-eyes. Night in Waikiki.

 

Day 3: Birding Oahu

Today we journey up the picturesque windward side to experience the serenity of Oahu’s North Shore in search of visiting shorebirds, such as the Wandering Tattler and sought-after Bristle-thighed Curlew. While cruising the coastline, famous for world class surf beaches and secluded coves with basking sea turtles, we are sure to find some flashy finches, such as the Saffron Finch and Chestnut Munia. The North Shore is also home to some of the last family farms on Oahu with crops of coffee, cacao, eggplant, papaya, pineapple, apple banana, and even scattered shrimp farms with Black-crowned Night Heron, the endemic Hawaiian Coot, Common Gallinule (endemic subspecies), and Black-necked Stilt (endemic subspecies). Night in Waikiki.

 

Day 4: Flight to Kauai and Birding Kauai

After breakfast we fly to Lihue and discover the beauty of Kauai’s North Shore in pursuit of impressive seabirds along Kilauea Lighthouse NWR’s stunning coastline and more endemic water birds amongst Hanalei NWR’s historic loʻi ponds. While scanning the rugged cliffs of Kilauea covered with Red-footed Boobies and surveying the skies for Brown Booby, spectacular Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, and soaring Great Frigatebirds, we will enjoy up close views of Hawaii’s state bird, the Nene (Hawaiian Goose). We will then explore Hanalei valley’s lush important bird area for more of Hawaii’s endangered water birds, like the Hawaiian Duck. Night in Lihue.

 

Day 5: Birding Kauai

We embark on a rainforest adventure with astounding views of Waimea Canyon, the Pacific’s Grand Canyon, on our journey into Kokee State Park to find Kauai’s endemic Kauai Amakihi, Apapane, Anianiau, and Kauai Elepaio with hopes of a glimpse of the rare Akekee and the iconic I’iwi. Other forest birds we should encounter in Kokee State Park include Red Junglefowl, the skulky Japanese Bush Warbler and melodious Hwamei. Night in Lihue.

 

Day 6: Birding Kauai and Flight to Kona

On our last morning on Kauai we will search for the rare Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush and any of Kauai’s specialty species we haven’t already found before our afternoon flight to Kona. Night in Kona.

 

Day 7: Birding Big Island

Experience Hakalau aka Hawaii’s honeycreeper heaven! Hakalau Forest NWR is a publicly restricted cloud forest reserve and is home to many of Hawaii’s endangered plants, native arthropods, and endemic birds. We will search for the unique Hawaii Creeper, the gorgeous day glow orange Akepa, the stunning long billed Akiapolaau, the Hawaiian Hawk, Omao (Hawaii island’s endemic thrush) with beautiful I’iwi, Hawaii Amakihi, and Apapane all over the blossoms of ancient ohia trees enshrouding us. Night in Kona.

 

Day 8: Birding Big Island

We begin our day on a quest for Hawaii Elepaio and the endangered Palila, the last of the finch-like honeycreepers. On our way to the sub-alpine dry forests of mamanae, sandalwood, and naio we will bird Saddle Road for Short-eared Owl (endemic subspecies), Eurasian Skylark, Chukar, California Quail, Wild Turkey, Erckel’s, Black, and Gray francolins and more. From the high elevations of Pu`u La`au along the slopes of Mauna Kea, we will drive to Waikoloa in search of more introduced species, like Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse and African Silverbill, on our way back to Kona. Night in Kona.

 

Day 9: Pelagic Birding Big Island

We embark on a pelagic birding charter out of Honokohau Harbor with an experienced local captain for Black Noddy, Brown Noddy, Sooty Tern, Brown Booby, White-tailed Tropicbird, Great Frigatebird, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, and Bulwer’s Petrel with hopes of finding: Masked Booby, Hawaiian Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Mottled Petrel, Juan Fernandez Petrel, White-necked Petrel, Newell’s Shearwater, Christmas Shearwater, Leach’s Storm Petrel, Long-tailed Jaegar, South Polar Skua, incidental cetacean sightings, and more! Night in Kona.

 

Day 10: Departure from Kona, Hawaii

We depart for home from Kona airport after breakfast.

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Details

This is the only tour of its kind! Other all-inclusive birding tours to Hawaii rush through on a cookie cutter itinerary with guides traveling from the mainland, and don’t get out on the water for pelagic species. Mandy has made Hawaii her permanent home and earns a living off of taking birders out of the city limits to experience the best Hawaii has to offer on a daily basis. She looks forward to sharing Hawaii’s best birds, wildlife, food, scenery, history and culture with new friends.

 

Dates

2021: February 3-12 and September 12-21
2022: January 17-26, February 21-March 2, April 4-13, September 12-21
2023: January 22-31, February 20-March 1, April 10-19, September 18-27, November 13-22

 

Pricing

$5,900 (double occupancy) plus tax
Single supplement: $975

Please contact us directly for availability and pricing on booking this as a private tour. Private tours can accommodate up to 11 participants.

 

Included

The tour fee is $5,900 for one person in double occupancy. It includes all lodging from Day 1 through Day 9, all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 10, all ground transportation (including airport shuttles), both inter island flights, one checked bag per person on inter island flights, and the guide services of the tour leader. Tipping at group meals on pelagic trips are included in your tour fee and will be handled for you. However, if you would like to recognize your guide/ driver/ logistics coordinator for exceptional service, it is entirely appropriate to tip.

The single supplement for the tour is $975. If you do not have a roommate but wish to share, we will try to pair you with a roommate from the tour; but if none is available, you will be billed for the single supplement. Tour fees are based on double occupancy; one-half the cost of a double room is priced into the tour fee. The single supplement is calculated by taking the actual cost of a single room and subtracting one-half the cost of a double room (plus any applicable taxes).

 

Not Included

The above fee does not include your airfare to Honolulu and from Kona, airport taxes, transfers, visa, any checked or carry-on baggage charges imposed by the airlines, any alcoholic beverages, phone calls, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.

 

Activity Level and Recommendations

To reach the highland forests where the native birds are found and search for pelagic birds by boat, we will have to start our days early, as we’ll want to be near our destinations close to dawn. Much of our birding will be easy walking on roads, wide trails, and boats. Most trails will be uneven, wet and can be muddy. Shoes with good grip and ankle support are recommended. You should be able to easily get in and out of a van (sometimes repeatedly), and able to walk at least three miles, where traction may not be the best and where footing is uneven. You should be prepared to bird in hot, humid, and cool environments, expect some rain. Sea conditions on the pelagic trip can range from calm seas to moderately rough, so you must have decent balance and an ability to steady yourself on a moving boat if you plan to take that trip. Those with balance and stability issues should bring a collapsible walking stick with a wrist loop, and those who find it difficult to stand for long periods should bring a small travel stool. If you’re uncertain as to whether this tour is a good match for your abilities, please don’t hesitate to contact Mandy.

 

Cancellation

Full payment is due 90 days before all-inclusive set departure date tours. Credit cards will be taken at the time of booking and charged a $500 per person non-refundable deposit. If you cancel outside of 90 days, you will receive a full refund minus your $500 deposit. If you cancel outside of 60 days, you will receive a 50% refund minus your $500 deposit. If you cancel within less than 60 days of the tour no refund fees will be provided. No shows are responsible for 100% of trip fees.

Birds You May See

Iiwi, Hawaii Amakihi, Kauai Amakihi, Oahu Amakihi, Apapane, Hawaii Creeper, Akepa, Akiapolaau, Palila, Anianiau, Hawaii Elepaio, Kauai Elepaio, Oahu Elepaio, Omao, Red-billed Leiothrix, Yellow-fonted Canary, Common Waxbill, Chestnut Munia, African Silverbill, Saffron Finch, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Red-crested Cardianl, Eurasian Skylark, Pacific Golden Plover, Wandering Tattler, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Hawaiian Coot, Hawaiian Stilt, Hawaiian Goose, Short-eared Owl, Hawaiian Duck, Hawaiian Hawk, Erckel’s Francolin, Black Francolin, Gray Francolin, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Kalij Pheasant, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Newell’s Shearwater, Bulwer’s Petrel, Hawaiian Petrel, Mottled Petrel, Juan Fernandez Petrel, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby, Masked Booby, White-tailed Tropicbird, Brown Noddy, Hawaiian Noddy

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Coming soon:

A Comprehensive Checklist of the Birds of Hawaii

A free, downloadable guide with information on the best time of year to see each every expected species in Hawaii, complete with emphasis on endemic, threatened, and endangered species.

 

Get Notified When this Guide is Released:

Meet Your Guide

Mandy Talpas

My goal with every birding trip is to help you view, learn about, and enjoy more birds! Whether you envision casually cruising the coastline in search of seabirds, chasing after endemic forest birds, exploring local hot spots, or all of the above. I am dedicated to providing customized excursions to create your ultimate Hawaii birding experience.

My promise on every eco-tour is to ensure that each guest is having a great time while learning about Hawaii’s alluring flora and fauna. When I’m not guiding I am proud to be involved in local avian conservation initiatives. I look forward to sharing Hawaii’s beautiful birds, unique wildlife, and the projects in place to help save them, with you.

Learn more about Mandy »

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Need another reason to book this tour?

This is the only tour of its kind! Other all-inclusive birding tours to Hawaii rush through on a cookie-cutter itinerary with guides traveling from the mainland, and don’t get out on the water for pelagic species. Mandy has made Hawaii her permanent home and earns a living off of taking birders out of the city limits to experience the best Hawaii has to offer on a daily basis. She looks forward to sharing Big Island’s best birds, wildlife, food, scenery, history and culture with new friends.

Learn more »