The Big Island’s bounty of hiking trails and off-the-beaten-path
adventures is arguably the most varied in Hawaii. Those clients up
for adventure will discover craters, newly formed beaches and even
a trail named after the founder of the Douglas fir tree.
A growing number of operators are sharing this diversity along
guided tours that travel to terrain as remote as it is enriching.
Other outings are self-guided, with the Na Ala Hele web site
(www.hawaiitrails.org) providing directions and featuring
individual guides for select treks (see below). So suggest that
your Big Island-bound clients pack their hiking boots along with
their beach gear to get a taste of these big adventures.
Hawaii Forest & Trail’s New Hualalai Volcano Adventure
While Hawaii Forest & Trails features a selection of hiking
adventures, its newest offering is packed with diversity. The
Hualalai Volcano Adventure travels from coastal Kona, through a
dense tropical rainforest and into the cool, volcanic terrain of
Hualalai’s last eruption site. On the short two-mile walk, hikers
encounter indigenous birds and learn about the native forest in
this realm Hawaiians called the wao akua (the land of the gods).
The highlight for many comes with exploring a stalactite decorated
What makes this hike so special, according to Hawaii Forest
& Trails owner, Rob Pacheco, is that the area is not open to
the general public. “The only way to take this hike legitimately is
to go with us,” he explained.
Pacheco pointed out that while some hikers prefer to head off on
their own and travel at their own pace, they may miss much of the
culture, history and geography of the area.
“There’s an incredible story laid out in the landscape,” Pacheco
said. “And if you’re not up there with someone who knows how to
interpret the story, you’ll miss the inherent meaning. You might
spot holes in the ground but not understand why they are there. We
tie it all together and bring more to it. We share a compelling
Commissionable to agents at 15%, the Hualalai Volcano Adventure
is priced at $95 for adults and $75 for children 8 - 12.
www.hawaii-forest.com or call . Kalapana (New Black Sand Beach)
and Papakolea (Green Sand Beach) Hikes Kalani Honua, a lush
oceanside retreat located on the island’s southeastern shore,
offers two unique options. Hikers can explore famous Kalapana,
where a lava flow blanketed the area in black only ten years ago.
They’ll also be able to view any ongoing activity as Kilauea
Volcano continues to add new lava to the island. Longtime Kalapana
resident, Uncle Robert Keliihoomalu, shares his aloha in music and
storytelling, helping the area retain its old Hawaiian feeling.
Those preferring shades of green can head to Papakolea, where
the sand is actually fine grains of olivine - just like what was
recently discovered on Mars. This adventure also includes a stop at
Ka Lae (South Point), the southernmost point in the United States,
before taking a 4WD ride to the beach.
Rates and commissions vary.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park brims with geological wonders
along more than 150 miles of trails that include Crater Rim,
Waldron Ledge, Iliahi, Halemaumau, Kilauea Iki, Devastation, Kipuka
Puaulu and Puu Loa Petroglyphs. Trails range from easy walks like
Bird Park/Kipuka Puaulu and Thurston Lava Tube, to longer hikes
such as Kilauea Iki and Mauna Iki trails. Other routes providing
access through wilderness areas are suitable only for those in top
physical condition and properly outfitted. Two park trails are
paved and accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
Park Rangers are on duty in the Kilauea Visitor Center from 7:45
a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily to assist hikers with trail information,
maps and permits. The park also posts Ranger-led walks at 9:00 a.m.
daily. Visit www.www.nps.gov/havo or call 808-985-6000.
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
Puuhonua o Honaunau, Hawaii’s last place of refuge, has been
restored to its early 1700’s appearance. Hikers get a glimpse into
ancient Hawaiian culture along the historic 1871 trail that follows
the Kona coastline for about a mile to the park boundary. Along the
self-guided trail, visitors come across a variety of archeological
sites including heiau (temple sites), holua (sledding tracks) and
kahua (old house sites) that are reminders of Hawaii’s rich
www.nps.gov/puho or call .
Na Ala Hele “Trails To Go On”
Na Ala Hele posts a comprehensive web site of Hawaii hiking
trails, broken down by island. Established in response to concerns
about public access to trails, Na Ala Hele is administered by the
Department of Land and Natural Resources, under the Division of
Forestry and Wildlife.
One of the newest additions to the National Trail System, the
Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is also the most ancient of any
designated historic trail in the U.S. This route covers some 175
miles of Big Island shoreline, stretching from Upolu Point in the
North Kohala district and following the western shoreline to what
was once Hahaula Heiau in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Another self-guided tour featured on the site is the Kaluakauka
Trail at Mauna Kea. Rising from its base on the ocean floor, Mauna
Kea is the highest volcano on the Earth. Perhaps best known for its
world-class observatories, it’s also popular for its challenging
hikes. The Kaluakauka Trail takes trekkers across forested pasture
land and through a native Hawaiian forest reserve. The trail
continues on to the Dr. David Douglas monument, erected in 1934 to
honor the Scottish botanist for whom the Douglas Fir is named.
The Na Ala Hele site also lists several commercial trail guides
and operators permitted access to areas for guided hikes: Betsy
Morrigan Hawaii Pack and Paddle (gokayak@Kona.net; 808-328-8911);
Kumiko Hasegawa (firstname.lastname@example.org); Rob Pacheco Hawaii Forest
& Trail (rob@hawaii-forest & trail.com, 808-331-8505); and
Hugh Montgomery Hawaiian Walkways, Inc. (email@example.com;