Hawaii Ecotourism Association, a 100-member nonprofit group,
recently released a set of visitor’s guides to Oahu’s Windward
Coast. The seven brochures, titled Ke Ala Moae The Tradewind Trail,
profile the people, history and culture of the area, with maps,
local legends, eateries, shops, sites to visit and places to stay.
“We see this as a good, community-based economic development
project, and a fun trip for the leisure traveler,” said Annette
Kaohelaulii, the association’s president. “The guides are perfect
for visitors who choose to explore Oahu in their rental cars.”
Available at participating Windward businesses or online at
www.hawaii ecotourism.org, the guides demonstrate how nature,
history and culture are playing a role in the Oahu visitor
experience, said Kaohelaulii.
“Ecotourism in Hawaii has been increasing, slowly but steadily,”
Case in point is Oahu Nature Tours, which pays 30 percent
commission. It recently responded to growing visitor interest by
adding the four-hour Valley of the Rainbows Adventure, taking
clients into a rainforest surrounded by seven waterfalls and
Participants spend time at Lyon Arboretum, a 200-acre botanical
garden with 5,000 species of plants ($37 per person). Clients
wanting to explore Oahu’s Windward Coast on a tour can book the
firm’s new five-hour Lost Coastof Oahu Adventure. Stops include
Lanikai Beach, known for its views of the offshore Moku Lua Islands
($42). 808-924-2473; www.oahunaturetours.com.
Bike Hawaii recently introduced the Oahu Explorer program,
commissionable at 15 percent. The two-night adventure gives active
clients a chance to pedal through historic Kaaawa Valley, located
in 4,000-acre Kualoa Ranch in Windward Oahu.
As participants ride along dirt roads, they see sites of such
movies as “Jurassic Park,” “Godzilla” and “Windtalkers”; and they
visit a reconstructed ancient Hawaiian village. There’s time for
hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and swimming as well.
The rate of $295 per person includes meals and transportation
from the airport or Waikiki. Use of bikes and camping gear costs
extra. 877-682-7433; www. bikehawaii.com.
The Real Hawaii now has three eco-excursions on Oahu. Its Real
Wet tour takes clients into bamboo groves and across streams a few
miles from Waikiki as guides talk about the plant life and culture
of the area ($44 per person).
The Real Tropical excursion, a nine-mile hike for serious
adventurers, heads into the forests of the Koolau Mountains ($69
with lunch). The Real Sacred trip takes visitors to sites that are
treated with respect by Hawaiians, including heiau (outdoor
shrines), fields of petroglyphs (rock drawings) and cliffs ($69).
Wild Side Specialty Tours, operating out of Waianae Harbor,
recently upgraded from a six-passenger monohull to a 36-passenger
catamaran; but to maintain intimacy, it limits its sailing charters
to 15 people.
Clients pay $95 per person, whether they go on a dolphin, turtle
or whale encounter, snorkel cruise or sunset sail. 808-306-7273;
Mauka Makai Excursions is introducing clients to the sacred and
legendary side of Oahu on archaeological field trips and hiking
eco-tours. During half- and full-day trips, guides recount legends
and myths of the area. Customized activities range from evening
torchlight fishing to full-day hikes to remote areas. 808-593-3525;