Mandy just dropped us off after a wonderful day of birding in Hakalau on the Big Island. She is a superb birder and guide. Our group was not a high level birding group but she patiently lead us to all but one of the target rare native Hawaiian birds. Her knowledge is extensive about all things Hawaiian – geology, native species, and history. She has traveled extensively to bird watch and brings much knowledge of many bird species into our discussions. Mandy is more than a great guide for bird watching – she covers all the unappreciated things – patience with needed stops, food, any request – all with good humor. She is passionate about Hakalau – a rare corner of Hawaii most people never see. Hurry if you want to see the few remaining beautiful birds on the island
Endemic Forest Birds
Experience Hawaiian Honeycreeper Heaven on this Exclusive Big Island Birding Tour
Join our expert guides for a tour that takes you to Hawaiian Honeycreeper heaven in the only area of Hawaii where native forest bird populations are actually increasing! We’ll be spending the day in Hakalau Forest NWR, home to many of Hawaii’s endangered plants, native arthropods, and endemic forest birds. This is the only place you can still encounter 10 endemic Hawaiian bird species with 6 of those being Hawaiian honeycreepers and our guides are experts at locating them! Birding this publicly restricted native forest with one of Hawaii’s premier birding guides is sure to be the highlight of your Hawaii vacation.
Why Choose This Tour?
See more birds! Our tours are led by birding experts with a sharp sense of where birds will be gained from years of experience in the field in Hawaii and beyond. Bird watching Big Island in one day doesn’t come better than this!
Learn more about birds! Our guides are passionate about birding and love to share their knowledge and educate everyone who wants to know more about endemic forest birds and more!
Take advantage of our exclusive access - Hakalau Forest NWR is a publicly restricted area and visitor access is limited to vetted and experienced naturalists such as our guides!
Click the tabs below to find out more...
Group tour: $275 per person plus tax
Private tour: $1,955 plus HI tax for up to 10 people
Safeway in Kona, Queens’ Marketplace in Waikoloa, or Puu Huluhulu for guests coming from the Hilo side.
- 6:15 am in the parking lot of the Kona Safeway: 75-971 Henry St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Safeway is open 24 hours and the Starbucks inside opens at 6am.
(For guests staying in Kailua-Kona and Captain Cook)
- 7:00 am in the parking lot by Starbucks at Queens’ Marketplace: 69-201 Waikōloa Beach Dr 1001 K-1, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 This Starbucks opens at 5am but the Island Gourmet Markets at The Queens’ Marketplace don’t open until 7am, when we need to leave by. (For guests staying in Waikoloa and Waimea)
- 8:00 am in the Pu’u Huluhulu Cinder cone parking lot for guests staying on the Hilo side. The parking lot is on the South side of Hawaii Route 200 aka Saddle Road, directly across from the highway’s intersection with the Mauna Kea Access Road. (For guests staying in Hilo, Pāhoa and Volcano)
Daily, 6:30am to 4:30pm, late August through June
Minimum 4, maximum 8
- Transportation to and from meeting points in Kona, Waikoloa, and,
- Pu’u Huluhulu
- Online checklists
- Local picnic lunch
- Transportation to and from Kona and Waikoloa
- The use of binoculars if needed
- The use of a walking stick if needed
Scopes generally don’t work well, as small endemic forest birds tend to move quickly throughout the canopy.
What to bring
- Lightweight long pants
- Waterproof hiking shoes
- Lightweight sweater/ fleece
- Sun protection
- Quick dry layered clothing
- A daypack for carrying your lunch and water into the field
- Rain gear
- Comfortable lightweight
- Quick dry clothing
- Closed-toed, waterproof shoes with good grip and support
- Sun protection
- A refillable water bottle
- This tour involves a 1 -2 mile walk on uneven and often wet terrain in search of Hawaiian endemic birds with a slight incline. Walking sticks and foldable stools are recommended for those with difficulty standing and walking for several hours at a time. Please note that the refuge access road requires four wheel drive and the ride in our 4×4 12 passenger van will be bumpy.
- The trail difficulty is not challenging but conditions may be cool, wet and slippery with an incline. We will be birding between 6,000′and 6,500′above sea level on Mauna Kea with temperatures between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, in an area that receives 80 -100″ of rainfall per year (misty afternoon rain is typical).
About your guide
1 expert guide
Target Species List
Participation Requirement: This tour involves a 1 -2 mile walk on uneven and often wet terrain in search of Hawaiian endemic birds with a slight incline. Walking sticks and foldable stools are recommended for those with difficulty standing and walking for several hours at a time. Please note that the refuge access road requires four wheel drive and the ride in our 4x4 12 passenger van will be bumpy.
Cancellation for group trips: All daily tours have a 48-hour cancellation policy. If you cancel prior to 48 hours of the start of the tour, you will receive a full refund. If you cancel within 48 hours of your scheduled trip departure, no refund fees will be provided. No-shows are responsible for 100% of trip fees.
Cancellation for private tours: There is a 7-day cancellation policy for all private tours. Credit cards will be taken at the time of booking. If you cancel outside of 7 days, you will receive a full refund. If you cancel within 7 days of the tour no refund fees will be provided. No-shows are responsible for 100% of trip fees.
Read Why People Love Us
I spent two fantastic days on the Big Island birding with Mandy Talpas. It was an excellent experience all around! Mandy is very knowledgable about the birds, has a great ear, and knows where to find those elusive endemics. Not only that, but she is so personable, energetic, and fun to be with that you’ll be sorry when the day ends. We spent a day in the Hakalau Forest and a second day on a pelagic off the Kona coast, and both days were extremely productive, well-organized and a lot of fun. I HIGHLY recommend Mandy for any serious birding adventure.