Hawai‘i’s Bio Diversity
- 14 nights, 15 days – Arrival into Līhu‘e Airport on the island of Kaua‘i / Departure from Kona International Airport
- Traditional Hawaiian Lei Greeting
- Ground Transportation and Meals
- Entrance to activities, Cultural Programs, Guided Tours, Recreational Activities & presentations
- Class Instruction
- Field Guides
Day 1: Arrival & Program Orientation
Following your arrival at Lihue on the island of Kauai, you will be greeted by our Hawaii Field Course Staff with a traditional Hawaiian welcome, which always includes a warm aloha and a lei of fresh flowers. You will then be transferred to your hotel for check-in and dinner. This evening, there will be an orientation session.
Day 2: Sugar cane refinery tour
Mount Wai’ale’ale, Waimea Canyon Plant and Bird Identification – Kōke‘e Natural History Museum.
Following an early breakfast, our group will travel through the heart of Kauai’s sugar cane country. Here, we will be able to see the mills and processing facilities in Lihue and Waimea. Our Guides will discuss the history and environmental impacts of Kauai’s sugar industry. Economic importance, cultural impacts and basic botanical information will also be considered. We will then drive to the top of Mount Wai‘ale‘ale, located on the northwest part of the island. Participants will experience a 4,000 ft. (1219 m) change in elevation and be able to examine evidence of Kaua‘i’s geologic past, as we take in breathtaking views of Waimea canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. During the trip up Mount Wai‘ale‘ale, our group will pass through a number of life-zones and this will be evident by dramatic changes in vegetation. Other points that will be considered include the effects of introduced non-native plant and animal species on Kauai and Hurricane Iniki’s impact on this region. There will also be time for local plant and bird identification, incredible views of the rugged Na Pali coastline and a visit to the Koke‘e Natural History Museum. Late this afternoon, we will return to our hotel in Lihue for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Hanalei River Valley
Taro Farm Visit – Rainforest Hike Plant and Bird Identification
Today, we will discover the lush Hanalei River Valley from an overlook, where steep mountain sides trap moisture laden clouds that feed the Hanalei River. Farms on this part of the island with their flooded fields or lo‘i, provide perfect growing conditions for the root crop, taro. Participants will explore the region and learn about the rich agricultural, historical and cultural traditions of taro in Hawaiæi. We will also have an opportunity to taste poi, a paste made from the root of the taro plant. An afternoon hike in the rainforest will give us the chance to see some of Kaua‘i’s many bird species and identify a number of endemic, native and introduced plants. Late this afternoon, we will return to our Lihue hotel for swimming before dinner. Overnight Lihue.
Day 4: O‘ahu – Big Island of Hawai‘i
Evening Hula Demonstration
Following breakfast today, our group will fly from Lihue to Honolulu, on Oahu, and then onto Hilo, and the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Upon arrival, we will check into our bay-front hotel, take some time to relax and orient to these new surroundings. After dinner, participants will enjoy a Hawaiian cultural evening, as we experience chanting and hula with a Kumu Hula or hula teacher. Overnight Hilo.
Day 5: Hilo Town and Farmer’s Market
Pacific Tsunami Museum – lyman Mission House and Museum
After breakfast this morning, we will take a short drive to historic Hilo Town for Market Day. This will include a visit to the Hilo Farmer’s Market, where participants will have the opportunity to see the amazing tropical foods and flowers of multicultural Hawai‘i. On Wednesday and Saturday the Market also features local crafts, clothes, jewelry and other Pacific-wide crafts. The Hilo Farmer’s Market is a thriving enterprise for the locals and the mainstay of conversation, community and the best local grown products in the State. We will come as strangers, but are assured to leave with many friends. After lunch in a local park, our group will visit the Pacific Tsunami Museum for a presentation and time to browse through the wide variety of exhibits found here. Tsunami waves, formerly known as “tidal waves” have their origins on the sea floor and are caused by earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions. We will learn about this amazing natural phenomenon and the impact tsunamis have had upon Hilo, “Tsunami Capitol of the World”. Our group will then visit the Lyman Mission House and Museum. Here, we will learn about missionary influences on Hawaiian culture. The Lyman House Museum is said to have the best shell collection in the U.S. Late this afternoon, we will return to our hotel and have some to swim before dinner. Overnight Hilo.
Day 6: Discuss Hawai‘i’s Marine Environment
Intertidal Environment – Intertidal Lagoon Exploration – Snorkel Richardson’s Beach park
This morning, we will take part in a discussion and slide presentation on “Hawai‘i’s Unique Marine Environment”. Other topics to be considered will include coral reef ecology, endemism and reef species identification. Participants will then depart for a local beach park, where we will have lunch and explore some of the many intertidal lagoons found here. A “hands-on” sea-lab allows for close-up observation of numerous near shore invertebrate species. The remainder of the day will be spent snorkeling and exploring the coral gardens of Wai`uli Bay. This will prove to be an excellent opportunity to observe a growing coral reef community. The endangered Hawaiian green sea turtle are commonly sited here. Late this afternoon, our group will return to Hilo for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Puna District – Lava District
Lava Tree State Park – Rainforest Hiki – Kapoho – Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Following an early breakfast, we will travel to Lava Tree State Park. Here, participants will hike through a lush rainforest and see towering lava tree molds created by lava flows that occurred some 200 years ago. Our group will then take a short drive to Kapoho, located in the Puna District, where in 1959 a 30-day eruption buried the community in lava ash and cinder. The Puna District is the diamond-shaped easternmost point on the Big Island. The term Puna means spring, possibly referring to geothermically heated waters that well up to the surface along the southern coast of the island. We will have lunch and swim in some of the many “hot ponds” found here. Our group will then continue along the coast to Kalapana and Kaimu Bays, now completely filled in by the recent activity of Kīlauea Volcano. Here, participants will visit Hawai‘i’s newest black-sand beach and when active, have a great view of steam plumes and lava flowing downhill to the sea. Our group will also visit Star of the Sea Painted Church of Kalapana, rescued from the Kīlauea lava flows of 1990 and moved to a new site. The village of Kalapana was buried at this time. Late this afternoon, we will return to our hotel for a swim, have dinner and overnight Hilo.
Day 8: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Kīlauea Volcano – Hale Ma‘aum‘au Crater – Nāhuku Lava Tube
Early this morning, we will depart for a drive to the 4,000 ft. (1219 m) level on Kīlauea Volcano in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Our drive will take us through several different life-zones and past three different volcanoes. We will stop at the Visitor’s Center for a short film updating Kīlauea’s recent activity and also visit the Jaggar Museum. This will be followed by a hike to observe the Kīlauea Volcano Caldera, Hale Ma‘uma‘u Crater and the Nahuku Lava Tube. Participants will also hike 400 feet through a 400 year old lava tube, that once fed lava from Kīlauea Iki Crater. While in the Park, we will pass through several climate-zones, including a lush fern rainforest, a dry ohia forest and barren desert.
Day 9: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Mauna ‘Ulu – Pu‘u Huluhulu Cinder Cone Walk
Today, we will drive along Chain of Craters Road, which encircles Kīlauea Crater and then continues down the palisade, or pali along the Southeast Rift Zone in the Park. Our group will stop at Mauna Ulu and take the Pu‘u Huluhulu Cinder Cone walk through recent lava flows, observing many lava tree molds and lava trees along the way. We will also walk through several kipukas, or areas of older lava flows and vegetation left undisturbed by more recent flows. The summit of Pu‘u Hulu‘hulu offers one of the best views in the Park and weather permitting, participants will have an unobstructed view of the active vents of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, as well as Mauna Ulu crater, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea Volcanoes, as well as a high elevation lava pond. Late this afternoon, our group will return to Hilo for dinner. This evening we will have a slide show and talk on the native, endemic and introduced plants of Hawai‘i. Overnight Hilo.
Day 10: Hāmākua Coast Drive
Onomea Bay – Botanical Garden Hike – ‘Akaka Falls – Kalopa State Recreation Area
After breakfast, we will travel along the Hāmākua Coast, via the Ono Mea Scenic Drive. Participants will travel through a lush sea-level tropical rainforest, see beautiful Ono Mea Bay and observe a lava tube with a stream flowing through it. This area provides a good example of a Hawaiian agro-forestry, containing trees and other plants used by early inhabitants of these seaside villages to survive. Leaving Ono Mea, we will drive over bridges spanning lush “gulches” filled with flowering trees, palms, tumbling mountain streams and waterfalls. A hike through a local botanical garden at the 1800 ft. level will bring us to breathtaking ‘Akaka Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in the state and a great opportunity to observe numerous introduced plant species, including epiphytic orchids, ferns and mosses. The next stop along our route will be Laupāhoehoe Point, where the “April Fool’s Day Tsunami” of 1946 erased this close-knit community from the coast. Perched along the edge of the Pacific Ocean, a memorial to the students, teachers and families of Laupāhoehoe stands as a silent reminder of that tragic day. Late this afternoon, our group will settle into cabins, high up in the mesic rainforest of Kalopa State Recreation Area. Dinner and overnight Kalopa State Recreation Area.
Day 11: Kalopa State Recreation Area
Rainforest Hiki – Kohala and Mauna Kea Volcanoes – Parker Ranch – Hāpuna Beach – Kailua Kona
Located on the flanks of Mauna Kea, Hawai‘i’s tallest mountain at 13,796 ft. (4205 m), Kalopa State Recreation Area is a 100 acre native rainforest that was spared from sugar plantation bulldozers. It contains native trees, shrubs, ferns and wildlife rarely seen in Hawaii today. Kalopa also features several trails with labeled Hawaiian native plants and trees. In this setting, giant ‘Ōhi‘a trees, some the largest found in Hawai‘i, surround our cabins in the dense rainforest habitat. This area is also known for its’ excellent birding. Following a morning rainforest hike and exploration, participants will travel north between Kohala and Mauna Kea Volcanoes. Our group will then pass through the Parker Ranch, the largest privately owned ranch in the U.S. Presently the Parker Ranch is 225,000 acres in total area, has 55,000 head of cattle. During the drive, we will experience weather typical of a “fog belt” including fog, rain and wind. As our group continues farther west, participants will encounter a “rain-shadow” effect – as if a line had been drawn across the landscape. One side is a lush, green, wet environment and within feet, a dry, cactus strewn, windswept expanse down to the sea. Enroute we will swim at Hapuna Beach, famous for its sugar-sand beach and beautiful turquoise water. Late in the afternoon, participants will proceed south to Kailua-Kona and check in at our seaside hotel. Following dinner, we will visit Kailua-Kona for an evening of shopping, galleries and local treats like ice shave! Overnight Kailua-Kona.
Day 12: South Kona
Hualālai Volcano – Amy B. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Gardens – Uchida Coffee Farm Living History Project
Following a breakfast buffet on the beach, we will depart for south Kona, traveling on the side of massive Hualālai Volcano, through the richest coffee country in the world. Our first stop will be the Amy B. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Gardens, where we will see examples of ancient farming systems used in Hawaii, native plants, many of which are endangered or nearly extinct and learn about their local uses. One example would be paper mulberry, used to make Tapa cloth. Participants will then travel back in time with a visit to the Uchida Coffee Farm Living History Project. Through hands-on experiences, we will learn about the history of Japanese culture in Hawaii. Our group will explore the family coffee mill, walk among coffee trees and tour the family home. We will also learn first-hand about the growing and processing of coffee and how this local family lived and made a living on the steep slopes of Hualālai Volcano. Late this afternoon, our group will return to Kailua-Kona for a relaxing swim, have dinner and overnight.
Day 13: Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historic Park
Rainforest Hike – Forest Management – Impact of Cattle on Hawaii – Kona Outdoor Circle’s Garden
Early this morning, we will drive north of Kona to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. Here, participants will hike at the 4,000 ft.(1219 m) level in a montane rainforest, where we will discuss forest management and the effect of cattle on the fragile ecosystems of Hawai‘i. Following lunch, our group will visit the Kona Outdoor Circle’s Garden. One of the best in the state, it features tropical plants from around the world, as well as many native to Hawai‘i. All of this is found in an incredible garden setting. This afternoon, we will return to Kailua-Kona for dinner and overnight.
Day 14: Place of Refuge at Hōnaunau
Catamaran Cruise – Kealakekua Bay Marine Conservation Area – Captain James Cook – Farewell Dinner
After breakfast, our group will travel south to Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau, also known as the Place of Refuge at Hōnaunau. Here, surrounded by a great wall, temples, or heiau are clustered around a beautiful, turtle-filled bay with an ancient royal canoe landing. A place of deep respect and sacredness, the history of Pu‘uhonua will be shared with us through a lei offering, or ho‘okupu, and a Hawaiian chant. After a picnic lunch, we will board the Fair Wind, a sailing catamaran for a trip down the coast to Kealakekua Bay Marine Conservation Area and site of the memorial to Captain James Cook. In this unbelievably beautiful clear-water bay, participants can dive from a 15′ (4.5 m) platform, use the water slide and snorkel in the warm lagoon, teeming with brightly colored tropical fish. A farewell barbeque buffet on-board ship with all the fixings and a relaxing cruise back to Kona completes this perfect day in paradise. Overnight Kailua-Kona.
Day 15: Departure
After an early breakfast and farewells to our Hawaii Field Course Staff, you will be transferred to the KONA International Airport for your return flight home.